E-Cigarettes and Oral Health

E-cigarettes have become an increasingly popular product for those who are wishing to give up smoking. E-cigarettes mimic many of the properties of traditional cigarettes, but they contain fewer toxic substances.

Are e-cigarettes better for you than normal cigarettes?

In many ways, e-cigarettes are a much better choice than traditional cigarettes, as they contain a fraction of the toxic substances found in normal cigarettes; however, dentists still have concerns.

Dentists are worried about e-cigarettes because they contain nicotine, the addictive ingredient present in cigarettes. Nicotine can help to prevent people from overcoming their addiction to smoking completely, but it can also be very damaging for the gums and soft tissues in the mouth.

What effect does nicotine have on oral health?

One major problem associated with nicotine is dry mouth; this occurs when there is a lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva is a moist substance, which is secreted by the salivary glands, which are found in the throat. Saliva is very important for oral health because it keeps the gums moist and washes away plaque and food debris; it also enables you to chew and swallow food properly.

Dry mouth increases the risk of dental decay and gum disease because it reduces the ability to clear the mouth of harmful bacteria and food deposit. If plaque is allowed to collect in the mouth, this increases the risk of cavities and gum disease, which can be very serious.

Another issue dentists are concerned about is healing; nicotine affects the gums and the soft tissues and may slow the natural healing process following dental treatments, such as dental implants or tooth extraction. Nicotine has an adverse effect on the body’s healing process because it restricts blood flow to the soft tissues; it also reduces the body’s ability to fight off infections.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

E-cigarettes are considered to be safe; however, they are not regulated and there are many different products on the market so it is not possible to make sweeping statements on the efficacy of treatment. E-cigarettes are marketed as a cheaper and healthier alternative to normal cigarettes but studies have indicated that there is still a risk of impaired lung function. At present there is a lack of research associated with the benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes; one small study, which was presented in at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Conference in Vienna in 2012 indicated that their airways became obstructed as a result of using e-cigarettes but other studies are few and far between. One project found that e-cigarettes did not affect heart function, but research is very much ongoing in this area.

Tips for giving up smoking

Most people are aware of the dangers of smoking; smoking increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes and cancer and it is a major cause of premature death in the UK. Smoking is also associated with oral health issues, respiratory diseases and premature ageing.

Giving up smoking is not easy, especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time or it acts as a form of emotional support; however, it is possible and you will start to notice changes almost immediately. Giving up smoking will dramatically reduce your risk of developing several illnesses and it will also save you a lot of money.

If you want to give up smoking, you should see your dentist or doctor; they will be able to give you useful information and advice and put you in touch with local services, such as support groups. Many people find that joining a group helps them to give up because they are surrounded by like-minded people with the same goal. Switching up your routine and taking up new interests and hobbies can also be beneficial, especially if you find that you smoke with the same people at the same times.

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