Explaining the Dangers of E-Cigarettes to Your Patients

In the last ten years, the use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.

One argument against these devices is that although they were created with the intention of weaning smokers off cigarettes, they may now have the adverse effect of introducing teenagers to smoking, acting as a kind of ‘gateway drug.’

Various studies have recently emerged to suggest that e-cigarettes may have negative impacts on our dental health too.

As a dentist, you need to offer your patients value. This means providing them advice on how to maintain dental hygiene both inside and outside of the office.

E-cigarettes may be better than traditional cigarettes if you compare overall dental health outcomes, however, educating your patients as to the real risks of e-cigarettes is a responsibility that you have as a dentist.

Here are some of the findings that you need to know.

  1. They cause damage to gum tissue

A study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center found that e-cigarettes can damage gum tissue just like conventional cigarettes.

“We showed that when the vapor from an e-cigarette is burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases,” said Irfan Rahman, lead author of the study.

  1. They inhibit the body’s ability to produce saliva

One symptom that e-cigarettes appear to share with traditional cigarettes is that the nicotine inhibits the body’s ability to produce saliva. The result is that you can become susceptible to bacteria and build up, as well as other negative outcomes such as dry mouth and tooth decay.

  1. They lower immune defense and alter gene expression

One study out of the University of North Carolina found that e-cigarette use altered hundreds of genes, some of which were the same ones that are suppressed by smoking.

“We honestly do no yet know what long-term effects e-cigarettes might have on health,” said Ilona Jaspers, lead author of the study. “I suspect that the effects of e-cigarettes will not be the same as the effects of cigarette smoking,” she continued.

  1. They may be harmful to lung health

Research out of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) found that e-cigarette use was related to a range of respiratory symptoms. Included among these was the exacerbation of asthma.

Whether you are looking to hold on to your practice for a while or sell in the near future, educating your patients on dangers of e-cigarettes adds value to your practice and is always worth the extra effort.


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