In Canada, 9 per cent of people aged fifteen and over have smoked an e-cigarette. Since they were invented in the early 2000s, e-cigarettes have rapidly grown in popularity amongst smokers, non-smokers, and those trying to quit smoking. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine or flavour in a vapour-like form. They are an alternative to smoking cigarettes that doesna��t involve tobacco, tar, or combustion, which is why many believe them to be harmless.
E-cigarette use is significantly prevalent amongst younger generations, with one in five Canadian youth aged 15 to 19 having smoked an e-cigarette at some point. As a student in dental hygienist studies, ita��s important to understand the impact of e-cigarette use on oral health, especially since you may have teenaged patients during your future career.
Read on to discover if e-cigarettes are really healthier than smoking.
Students in Dental Hygiene Courses Should Know E-Cigarette Smoke Is Less Toxic
Traditional tobacco smoke is estimated to contain anywhere between 10,000 to 100,000 chemicals. Seventy of these chemicals are substances like arsenic and formaldehyde, which are known carcinogens and can cause cancer. Therea��s no doubt that these chemicals make cigarette smoking extremely dangerous and harmful.
As far as e-cigarettes go, a study that analyzed 23 e-cigarette aerosols found toxins present, but in much fewer amounts than traditional cigarettes. The study showed that e-cigarettes emit nine to 450 times fewer levels of toxins than tobacco smoke.
Does this make e-cigarettes healthy? To say so would be overly simplistic. At this point there are limited studies available in regard to the effect of e-cigarettes on oral health. However, ita��s estimated that for every one million smokers who switch to e-cigarettes, about 6,000 lives could be saved every single year.
The general consensus in the medical and dental community is that e-cigarettes may not be as bad as cigarettes, but they are still harmful. When you become a dental hygienist, ita��ll be best to encourage patients to use caution and avoid e-cigarettes if possible.
Students in Dental Hygiene Courses Should Know E-Cigarettes May Cause Dry Mouth
E-cigarettes are known to cause mouth and throat dryness, because they inhibit the bodya��s ability to produce saliva. As graduates of dental hygiene courses likely know, a dry mouth can lead to a range of oral health issues. Being able to salivate properly helps the body wash away harmful bacteria that can eat away at teeth. Without functioning saliva, e-cigarette smokers are at a higher risk of developing bad breath, bacteria build-up, and eventually even tooth decay.
Students in Dental Hygiene Courses Should Know E-Cigarettes Cause Damage to Cells
A study published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology examined the effects of e-cigarette vapour on the oral cavity. The study involved exposing mouth cells to e-cigarette vapour over several days and observing the results. In just three days, 53 per cent of exposed mouth cells were damaged or killed. Compared to the natural rate of 2 per cent, the number is quite shocking.
Dr. Rouabhia, member of the Oral Ecology Research Group at UniversitA� Laval, states that, a�?Damage to the defensive barrier in the mouth can increase the risk of infection, inflammation, and gum disease. Over the longer term, it may also increase the risk of cancer.a�?
Although more studies still need to be conducted on the issues surrounding e-cigarettes, ita��s safe to say that e-cigarettes are certainly not a healthy choice, even if they may be a slightly better alternative to cigarettes.
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Contact the Canadian Academy of Dental Hygiene to learn how!