Touted as a ‘safer’ alternative to smoking paper cigarettes, a recent study by the University of Rochester Medical Center has revealed that "vaping," with electronic cigarettes is just as bad for the teeth and gums as smoking paper cigarettes. Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, TX discusses these surprising findings – and what they mean for your mouth.

 

Initially developed in 2003, electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes), were created by a Chinese pharmacist as a healthier alternative for smokers of traditional paper cigarettes. The theory was that vaping is safer because instead of inhaling dangerous smoke, e-cigarettes use a flavored liquid made of nicotine, glycerin, and propylene glycol to create an aerosol vapor, which is then inhaled.

In recent years, vaping has soared in popularity, with stores dedicated to selling supplies and vaporizing liquid popping up in strip malls across the US. So what happened? How did this product that was supposed to be so much healthier turn out to be just as bad for our teeth as cigarettes? According to Hill, "nicotine happened."

It all started when researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center took cells inflamed with periodontal disease and some healthy cells and exposed both groups to e-cigarette vapors for 24 hours. What they found was that when each set of cells was exposed to these vapors, the cells released "inflammatory proteins" which stress the cells, damaging them and increasing their risk of developing numerous oral diseases. These findings came as a surprise to scientists who have long thought that the most dangerous part of smoking was the actual smoke. As it turns out, the nicotine found in both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes is actually the culprit- and it’s apparently more harmful than the smoke itself. Even more surprising, those trendy flavors you can add to your e-cigarette? Depending on which flavor you choose, they all exacerbate the damage caused by vaping- and some flavors are more dangerous than others!

So what’s a smoker to do? "Quit." Hill. "There is no such thing as ‘safe’ smoking. Even e-cigarettes are still cigarettes. They still contain nicotine, which is a drug, and which has been found to cause oral cancer."