Vaping May Lead To Bad Oral Health, Including Cancer, Study Shows

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A new study adds bad oral health to vaping’s list of negative health effects, while also adding evidence to the potential for e-cigarettes to cause cancer.

Vaping And Oral Health

E-cigarettes, or vapes, were first introduced in the United States in 2007 and exploded in popularity around 2010.

They have been touted as a method for people to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, to avoid cigarettes’ well-known serious health risks.

However, as vapes grow in popularity, so does the need to spread awareness about their own potential negative health effects, as well as the health risks associated with using vapes and cigarettes together.

Bad oral health is the latest health risk found to be associated with e-cigarette use. The same study also revealed a connection between vaping and cancer.

How Does Vaping Disrupt Oral Health?

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine, found that vaping can destroy “good” bacteria in the mouth, leaving room for diseases to spread.

Healthy bacteria in the mouth’s microbiome protect from tooth decay and periodontitis (gum disease). Destroying these bacteria can also lead to an increased risk for cancer.

The healthy bacteria in the mouth are damaged by the high heat and chemicals associated with vaping, which do not harm the “bad” bacteria that contribute to disease.

Other research has also demonstrated that vaping weakens the immune system, making it harder for the body to heal from infections caused by harmful bacteria.

Currently Known Side Effects And Health Risks Of Vaping

There is still limited research on the long-term health effects of vaping, but initial studies reveal several health risks.

Vapes and e-cigarettes can contain many harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde, acrolein (a common herbicide), and heavy metals like lead or nickel.

Many of the chemicals found in vapes have been attributed to causing cancer, heart disease, lung disease, COPD, asthma, and cell toxicity.

Short-term side effects of vaping include:

  • coughing
  • eye and throat irritation
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches
  • nausea

What Exactly Is Vaping?

Vapes and e-cigarettes are electronic devices that use heated coils to combust liquids with different amounts of nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals for smoking purposes.

There are many different vaping devices on the market, and they can vary widely from disposables to permanent personal vaporizers with refillable tanks.

Many vapes resemble everyday devices like USB drives, cigarettes, or pens, while others are much larger.

Common nicknames for vapes include:

  • e-cigs
  • mods
  • vape pens
  • tanks
  • e-hookahs

Vaping is commonly believed to be a safer alternative to cigarettes, so people often start using them in an attempt to quit traditional tobacco products.

Is Vaping As Addictive As Smoking Cigarettes?

Nicotine products are very addictive. In fact, some studies have found them to be just as addictive as cocaine and heroin, if not more so.

Some people can become addicted to the effects of nicotine after just one cigarette. Between 30% and 50% of smokers attempt to quit each year, but only around 8% succeed.

Despite people’s use of e-cigarettes to quit traditional cigarette use, studies show that people who vape are significantly more likely to also smoke cigarettes.

This can be particularly risky, as studies show that even though both products have similar cardiovascular health risks, using both can actually increase these risks.

Additionally, numerous e-cigarette products contain larger amounts of nicotine than traditional cigarettes. For example, one JUUL pod can contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

Vaping And Adolescents

Vaping among adolescents and teenagers has become particularly concerning over the last decade.

Vape use is often much easier to hide than cigarette smoking due to the lack of lingering smell. They are also cheaper, and the different fruity or menthol flavorings often appeal to teenagers.

More than 2 million teens admitted to e-cigarette use in 2021. Large portions of this group believed that vaping was less harmful than cigarettes, and many thought their vape devices contained no nicotine.

Vaping can lead to worsened mental illness symptoms in children and may even affect normal brain development.

Although adults may turn to vaping to quit cigarettes, teens often start vaping without ever having tried tobacco. Vaping makes them much more likely to eventually smoke cigarettes.

Ways To Quit Vaping

Despite their promotion as a tool for smoking cessation, e-cigarettes have not been found to be helpful for quitting nicotine use.

Quitting vaping can be challenging, but people report lower levels of anxiety, stress, irritability, and other negative effects after stopping.

Some people prefer to go cold turkey, while others taper off slowly. Both methods of quitting can be effective.

The following tips can help you stop vaping:

  • try nicotine replacement therapy with nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges
  • have a strategy in place to help distract yourself from cravings
  • seek out professional support
  • identify your triggers to vape
  • focus on exercising, drinking water, and eating healthier foods
  • try holistic therapies like meditation or journaling
  • find a peer support mentor to help you on your journey

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