The Oral Health Effects of E-Cigarettes
In the recent years, electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes for short), have become increasingly popular due to their look and feel that match that of real cigarettes. They are even being endorsed as the safer alternative to your conventional smoking, as these e-cigarettes can give smokers their nicotine fix without the adverse effects associated with tobacco use.
Nonetheless, studies have found that this supposedly safer alternative is actually posing more dangers to its users, particularly in their oral health.
Listed below are some surprising adverse reactions of e-cigarettes that you should watch out for:
Decreased Salivary Flow:
One of the most common side effects of e-cigarettes is decreased salivary flow, which occurs as a result of nicotine constricting or narrowing the blood vessels. Without enough saliva, there will be other problems like mouth and throat dryness which, in turn, can lead to tooth decay and bad breath.
The nicotine in the e-cigarettes, or even tobacco smoking for that matter, gets absorbed by the oral mucosa. This, in turn, may cause irritation particularly of the mucosa of the cheeks and pharynx. Such irritation may manifest as redness, mouth sores and blisters.
Nicotine, being a vasoconstrictor, can also reduce the amount of blood flow to the gum tissues. Without enough blood, the gums do not receive the right amount of oxygen and nutrients needed for them to survive and stay healthy; hence, they shrink or recede.
Gum recession, in turn, exposes tooth roots and thus cause sensitivity.
Hides Symptoms of Gum Disease:
This effect is also related to the vasoconstrictive effects of nicotine. Bleeding is the main symptom of gum disease, which dentists use to determine the severity of gum inflammation.
Since nicotine can cause decreased blood flow to the gums, bleeding will be minimal to none, thus giving that false impression that the gum tissue is healthy even when you actually have gum disease. This makes it hard to diagnose the disease and by the time it is detected, the disease has progressed and is in a worse state already. More severe gum disease means more complicated treatment required.
Furthermore, the constriction caused by nicotine does not go away upon cessation of smoking – it lasts long after you quit.
Nicotine can also fire up the muscles, especially during sleep. The increased muscle activity may cause you to start grinding your teeth, or if you already are a grinder, then the grinding habit will be more intense than before.
Studies say that those who are exposed to nicotine, whether through electronic or conventional cigarettes, are five times more likely to develop teeth grinding habits that those who aren’t.
There are many other possible impact of e-cigarettes not only on oral health, but on overall health as well.
Although manufacturers claim that e-cigarettes are healthier than traditional cigarettes, more studies must be conducted to provide more solid evidences for such claim. Until then, the best thing to do is to stay away from both e-cigarettes and cigarettes.