April is Dental Cancer Awareness Month and today oral cancer and periodontal disease are trending in the form of vaping, hookah, and e-cigarettes. These new fads have become the hip and “fun” alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. It’s amazing to me that my teenager is able to buy these items before he can even legally purchase alcohol. These e-cigarettes and USBs (juuls) have become the new threat against the dental health of our youth.
On one hand, we have made enormous strides in preventative oral health. Insurance covers 100% of all six-month cleanings and sealants for most children. And while we have come such a long way in preventing cavities by using sealants and fluoride, we should think about the “threats” we can’t see right away. Trendy e-cigarettes, hookah, and USB vaping are causing negative effects on our oral tissue, beneath the surface.
When vaping first arrived on the scene a few years ago, it was touted as a safer and healthier alternative to smoking. But is it, really? From the perspective of your dental health, the answer is clear – and it is “No!”
Does using an E-Cigarette, USB, or Hookah differ from cigarette smoking?
Instead of conventional cigarettes that produce smoke, vaping uses an electronic charge to heat vape juice and create vapor. The juice houses nicotine and tasty flavor elements, making it incredibly addictive. And because vaping has no lingering smell, it can be hard to detect who is smoking the e-cigarette or USB.
Hookah is a much bulkier instrument used for vaporizing flavored tobacco. It has become very popular, due to the increase of Hookah bars in our community. The vapor or smoke passes through a water basin before being inhaled. Smoke from hookah contains the same cancer-causing chemicals as cigars and cigarettes. In addition, hookah smokers also inhale carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and other toxic compounds given off by the burning charcoal. Even if you aren’t smoking the hookah directly, you can still be at risk from the secondhand smoke.
What’s even more alarming is that a typical one-hour hookah smoking session with friends is the same as smoking 150-200 cigarettes (and just as addictive). If you are a regular hookah user, it’s important to be screened for oral cancer at every dental exam. Ask us about a Velscope oral cancer screening at your next cleaning.
Your teeth and gums after vaping an e-cigarette, USB, or Hookah
Using any form of smoking whether it be traditional cigarettes or vaping an e-cigarette, USB, or hookah, can have detrimental effects on your oral health. Here are some of the oral risks of using such methods:
- Vaping exposes your oral tissues to nicotine. As we all know, nicotine significantly reduces blood flow, restricting oxygenation and nutrient-flow to the soft tissue of the mouth.
- With the exposure of nicotine, our blood vessels are restricted which causes a decrease in blood flow to the gums. Inflammatory proteins are released as a result of the burning of the e-cigarette vape juice, which can onset periodontal disease.
- When nicotine causes a decrease in blood flow, it increases the chance of infection, decay, and other oral problems, which can result in tooth loss and periodontitis.
Below are a list of dental symptoms to look out for if you regularly vape:
- Ongoing bad breath (halitosis)
- Red, irritated, or bleeding gums
- Tenderness or swelling of gums
- Wobbly teeth or loss of teeth
- Recession of gum tissue
The more often you vape and the longer you do so, the more likely you are to encounter health and dental complications that include periodontitis and oral cancer.
If you’re going to vape, be sure to visit your dentist
Vaping is a personal choice, but people who vape should be aware of the oral risks. Regular check-ups and teeth-cleanings will help you protect your teeth and gums. We offer VelScope oral cancer screenings to help detect the effects of vaping early. We, at Lowes Island Dentistry, understand that many people choose to vape, especially in an effort to quit smoking tobacco. We also want our patients to understand that vaping, like traditional smoking; can be detrimental to oral health. To learn more, schedule your complimentary consultation at Lowes Island Dentistry, with Dr Uzma Ansari, online or by calling the office at 703-495-2671.