Electronic cigarettes have become a very popular alternative to the traditional cigarette. A lot of smokers have resorted to the e-cig for several reasons. For example, e-cigs don’t have the traditional cigarette smell, it’s cheaper, and it’s safer amongst other things. But one question lingers: do e-cigarettes pose a risk to your oral health?
First we need to know why cigarettes pose a risk to our oral health. Smoking a cigarette can cause teeth discoloration (yellow), plaque buildup, bad breath, and cancer. There are several factors that cause these unwanted effects: the smoke itself causes discoloration. Chemicals, like ammonia, carbon monoxide, and acetone, are inside of that smoke and leave behind a residue. The residue sticks to your teeth and eventually stains them. So the chemicals inside of the smoke are the sources of dental health problems. There are several other harmful chemicals inside cigarettes that not only cause dental health problems, but overall health problems such as lung cancer.
The first thing you need to know about e-cigarettes is that they do not produce smoke, they produce vapor. The vapor that you inhale when smoking an e-cig does not contain any of the harmful chemicals contained in a traditional cigarette. E-cigs use a liquid mix of nicotine, distilled water, flavoring ingredients, and a few other chemicals that turn into vapor when inhaled. These liquid ingredients will not cause any teeth discoloration, plaque buildup, or bad breath. One harmful effect is that nicotine inhalation inhibits your ability to produce saliva, which can leave you susceptible to bacteria buildup, dry mouth, and tooth decay. However, you can choose how much nicotine you want in your e-cig, so lower levels are better for oral health.
Bottom line: e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. There have not been a sufficient amount of studies on the effects of e-cigs to make a solid conclusion on whether or not the additional chemicals in the e-cig liquid cause other dental health problems.