E-Cigarettes Damage Oral Tissue Just Like Regular Cigarettes

vapingEveryone knows cigarette smoking is a short cut down the path to health issues affecting your lungs, your skin, your blood vessels, and even your heart. But of more concern to Dr. Miller is what cigarette smoke does to the health of your mouth. Smoking has a direct correlation with gum disease and mouth cancer.

When e-cigarettes first made their appearance around 2010, it was assumed that these would be somewhat healthier options for those who already smoked and were trying to quit. New research, however, suggests vaping may be just as harmful as smoking for your oral health.


When e-cigarettes first started showing up in Portland stores around 2010 people didn’t know what to make of them. After all, they don’t contain tobacco. It was assumed e-cigarettes would be a viable way for smokers to quit tobacco. How bad could water vapor be for you?

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices about the size of a cigar or large pen. They contain a heating device and a cartridge that holds a liquid solution. When used, the heating device vaporizes the liquid, and the user inhales the vapor.

Despite not being made with actual tobacco, e-cigarettes still pack a punch of nicotine and other chemicals and flavoring agents. While assumed to be safer than inhaling actual tobacco, e-cigarettes have been on the market for such a short period that there isn’t any long-term research on the effects of “vaping” on human health.

Study shows equal or more damage

In an attempt to gain some research knowledge, this study was conducted at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York. The goal was to gauge the effect of e-cigarette vapor on oral health. Results of the study were recently published in the journal Oncotarget.

For the study, the research team exposed the gum tissue of nonsmokers to either tobacco- or menthol-flavored e-cigarette vapor. The tobacco-flavored vapor contained 16 milligrams of nicotine, while the menthol flavor contained 13-16 milligrams of nicotine or no nicotine.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that all e-cigarette vapor damaged gum tissue cells in levels comparable or even above the damage caused by actual tobacco smoke.

This is how the study’s lead researcher, Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., described the findings, “We showed that when the vapors from an e-cigarette are 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.”

Nicotine is a known contributor to gum disease, but it appears e-cigarette flavoring actual exacerbates the cell damage, particularly with the menthol-flavored vapor. While the water vapor is harmless, the chemicals added into the vapor are anything but.

These oral health findings are particularly relevant to young people, as their use of e-cigarettes has increased in recent years. In 2011, just 1.5 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes, but that number climbed to 16 percent in 2015.

The point of all this? E-cigarettes may head off some of the lung problems associated with cigarettes, but in the area that concerns, Dr. Miller — your oral health — vaping appears to be bad or even worse than cigarettes. It looks like this newest fad should be one to be avoided for good oral health.

If you have questions about your oral health or need to make your next appointment for a cleaning and exam, call Dr. Miller at 503-640-9310.






Posted in: Oral Cancer, Oral Health

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