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Since its market launch in 2007, the popularity and use of vape pens or electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has risen dramatically. Using an e-cigarette is called” vaping” or “JUULing.” E-cigarettes are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” “mods,” “JUUL’s,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).” Sometimes an e-cigarettes can look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. But most of the youth are using e-cigarettes that look like USB flash drives, pens, highlighters, credit cards, remote controls and other everyday items. This can make it difficult to know whether your child is using these products.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the use of vape pens has increased 78% with high school students from 2017-2018 and 48% with middle schoolers. Kids, teens and young adults are at risk for addiction. Vapor lounges, houses and stores, are appearing in our cities, usually in centrally located areas like shopping malls. Ads and the variety of tasty flavors, including flavors like cotton candy are geared to appeal to the youth. A Significant Health Alert! At the office of Brent J. Porter, D.D.S., your Santa Cruz Children’s Dentist, we have information posted in our teenage wing indicating the harmful effects of vaping. In addition, Dr. Porter makes an effort to talk with the teens about the dangers of the addiction associated with its use.
E-cigarettes produce an aerosol to be inhaled by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. The liquid used in e-cigarettes is sometimes called “e-juice,” “e-liquid,” “vape juice,” or “vape liquid.” These liquids are usually made up of propylene glycol, glycerin, flavorings, water, and may contain nicotine or marijuana. It is difficult for consumers to know what ingredients are contained in e-cigarette products. Some e-cigarettes marketed as containing zero nicotine have been found to contain nicotine. E-cigarettes contain carcinogenic chemicals and one flavor pod can contain as much nicotine as two packs of actual cigarettes!
A user inhales e-cigarette aerosol into their lungs. This is NOT a harmless water vapor as it contains harmful and potentially harmful substances. Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales it into the air. The aerosol vapor creates a thick plume surrounding the device and user, but quickly evaporates into the air leaving no sign behind. For this reason, young users find it easy to use these products in their rooms, bathrooms or hang out spots with no trace left behind.
E-cigarettes, like its traditional predecessor, can cause periodontal disease as a result of nicotine ingestion. 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. The mouth’s natural ability to fight damaging bacteria is limited. Another effect of vaping with nicotine is that it can cause the gums to recede. It causes the blood vessels to restrict and decreases blood flow to the gums. With continued use, nicotine or heat from the vapor increases the risk of gum recession and exposure to the underlying root structure. In addition, the acid byproducts of propylene glycol in the e-liquids are toxic to tooth enamel and soft tissue. Lastly, the glycerin and added flavors giving e-liquids their tasty flavors, create a film on the teeth while causing the enamel to soften. With a weakened tooth, cavity causing bacteria have their chance to decay the teeth.
Studies have also shown that vaping can cause an array of dental problems, such as:
“Vaper's Tongue” is a condition that causes taste to be dramatically reduced or diminished. It can come on unexpectedly and without warning.
Liquid Nicotine might be the most dangerous part of an e-cigarette. It’s highly addictive and toxic. Even small amounts of this liquid absorbed through the skin or swallowed can cause vomiting, seizures and could be fatal for a child. The refillable containers are not child proof and “e-juice” comes in candy flavors and bright colors that kids love.
Nicotine acts as a stimulant that fires up the muscles. If you already grind your teeth (bruxism), it can make it worse. If you are not a teeth grinder, you may start. Bruxism is a condition in which you regularly grind, gnash, or clench your teeth. When left untreated, bruxism can lead to tooth damage and other oral health complications.
Due to the rising epidemic of vaping in school age children, its important as a parent to be aware that it is difficult to know if your child is participating. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself. This might be a way to at least start a conversation with your child regarding vaping. As the popularity of vaping continues to rise, early intervention is the key.
Please contact our friendly team today if you have any questions or would like to schedule a visit with Brent J. Porter D.D.S., Santa Cruz Children’s Dentist (831) 459-9802. We look forward to hearing from you.