There is little doubt, even amongst sceptics, that smoking is bad for your health. It is true that we do see people who have smoked all their lives living to a ripe old age but these are exceptions and certainly not the rule. Long gone are the days when cigarettes advertised a relaxed and luxurious lifestyle; these days they are far more likely to appear in adverts relating to health and cancers.
Although a lot of people have managed to quit their smoking habit, it doesn’t usually take long for them to admit that they miss a cigarette, especially at certain times such as after a meal or with a drink. This has left a huge market ready made for anyone who came up with a suitable replacement for a cigarette.
Welcome the e-cigarette! Although this seems like a natural replacement for the cigarette, it has only really seen the light of day in any commercial aspect in the last ten years or so. The e-cigarette, or e-cig, works by releasing a vapour, often tobacco flavoured but also comes in a variety of flavours, when the person inhales. On the surface of it, this seems a vastly safer option that smoking a real cigarette. However, there are chemicals which help to create the vapour and some of these are claimed not to be safe by the medical profession.
Whilst this debate is likely to be ongoing for some time, there are aspects of an e-cigarette which we know to be detrimental to good dental health. It is a well known fact that smoking greatly increases the risk of oral and mouth cancers and these are most often detected at an early stage when visiting the dentist. It seems likely that switching to an e-cigarette will reduce the risk, if not eliminate it entirely, of cancers of the mouth, but what of other aspects of dental health? Most e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, and whilst there are no nicotine versions available, the reality is that most people switch to e-cigs rather than stop altogether because of the addictive qualities of nicotine. So, although not getting the chemical irritants from the smoke of normal cigarettes, most people are still intaking nicotine and possibly in increased quantities.
Nicotine and Saliva
This nicotine intake contributes to the bodies inability to provide sufficient saliva to the mouth and leaves the user with a dry mouth. The effect of this is that bacterial build up is increased as it isn’t washed away. This will cause halitosis, or bad breath, which is bad enough in itself, but also dramatically increases the risk of gum disease. This often ignored aspect of dental health care is responsible for a number of problems, from sore and bleeding gums to loss of teeth unless treated. Thankfully, if caught early on, gum disease is easily treatable by a number of methods depending on which stage the disease is at. This dryness and increase in bacteria, along with the restriction of blood flow can also significantly increase the risk of failure in those who choose to have dental implants placed.
If you are a smoker then and are considering switching to e-cigarettes, you may be better to look at other alternatives even if more difficult and not take the easy option and risk your dental health.
John Ridance was a long term smoker until warned by his Burton dentist about the increased risk of gum disease. Thankfully, mine was detected in the early stages and was easily treatable. Changing to e-cigarettes does seem to have helped the general state of my dental health.