In place of regular cigarettes, people have substituted them for an electronic approach, more commonly known as “vaping.” While many consider this a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking, according to University of Southern California (USC), these aren’t harmless. Also, more adolescents have adopted this, which may lead to nicotine addiction and future smoking. Ahmad Besaratinia, PhD, an associate professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC states, “Although the concentrations of most carcinogenic compounds in e-cig products are much lower than those in cigarette smoke, there is no safe level of exposure to carcinogens.” Here are some details about why this is such an ordeal.

Besaratinia says that the molecular changes aren’t necessarily cancer or pre-cancer, but overtime it can lead to those conditions if oral care is unchecked. According to researchers at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center, e-cigs still can change the DNA code of oral cells, which may increase cancer risks. Romel Dator, PhD, a postdoctoral at this center states, “E-cigarettes are a popular trend, but the long-term health effects are unknown.” “We want to characterize the chemicals that vapors are exposed to as well as any DNA damage they may cause.”

It was found that more carcinogens arise from the combustion of tobacco cigarettes than in the vapor of e-cigarettes. Silvia Balbo, PhD, lead investigator and a member of the center, makes a valid point by stating, “However, we don’t really know the impact of inhaling the combination of compounds produced by this device. Just because the threats are different doesn’t mean that e-cigarettes are completely safe.” How does this affect your oral care? We’ll talk about that in the next section.

The interesting thing is 44% of individuals surveyed didn’t believe that e-cigarettes were harmful. However, dentists have personally said that e-cigarettes still create a profound effect on your overall oral health. When it comes to getting oral surgery, you should consult with your dentist about your usage and any risks associated with your procedure. Regardless of vaping, it still holds nicotine, which is the addictive agent.

Nicotine makes it harder for the body to repair. It damages the tissue in the body but also impedes the healing process. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, vaping is no better than smoking when it comes to dental surgery. It furthers the risk with anesthesia and can lead to more complications for patients. Nicotine actually decreases the amount of oxygen the body receives. When there’s a lack of oxygen for vital organs and tissues, this actually increases the chance of infection. This has a long-term effect with recovering from any surgery, which makes it a nightmare for a periodontist to operate on a patient. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the risks of using e-cigarettes. Any health care provider wants to take the proper precautions to ensure your safety during surgery.

Also, there are different ingredients in e-cigarettes that prove harmful. One of the main substances in vapes is proplyene gycol. There’s a process of carrying the nicotine from the vape into the mouth. When this is inhaled, it becomes acidic. This actually damages the teeth, enamel, and soft tissue in the mouth. Additionally, the vegetable glycerin ingredient is mixed with different flavorings in e-cigarettes. Studies show that this combination “produces a fourfold increase in microbial adhesion to enamel and a twofold increase in biofilm formation.” As a result, the e-liquid can create more cavity-causing bacteria and eventually lead to severe decay.

Not only do the chemicals in e-cigarettes pose a health risk, but the batteries as well. There have been instances where the batteries have overheated and exploded. Also, “Given the explosion of e-cigarette use, especially among kids — it increased 78% among high school students and 49% among middle school students between 2017 and 2018, according to the CDC— the FDA asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) to report on the potential public health consequence.

While a dentist would be great to help you take preventative measures for keeping your oral health in good condition, it’s important to note that a specialist may be optimal in worst case scenarios. However, the best thing to do may be to abstain from vaping all together. There are certain long-term damages that may not be avoidable. At the end of the day, your oral care is important to keep your overall well-being intact.