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The list of harmful effects of using e-cigarettes and other vaping devices continues to grow each year. A new dangerous side-effect of using e-cigarettes is that the liquid inside can damage the teeth, much like sticky candies and sodas. That means in addition to damaging the lungs and heart, electronic cigarette smoking increases the risk of cavities.
E-cigarette smokers can pick from thousands of flavors of “e-liquid” available on the market to vaporize and inhale. These include gummy bear, cotton candy, and peach iced tea. These flavors may be one of the main reasons young people start to vape in the first place according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. And children are already at a higher risk of developing cavities.
What was intended to help adults quit smoking is now attracting a growing number of kids who were not smoking before. In South Dakota, e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among middle school students, with 16% reporting they had tried e-cigarettes. Use among students increases as they get older, with 62% of South Dakota high school seniors reporting they’d tried an electronic vaping product.
Researchers found 2 reasons for the cavity-causing nature of e-liquids. According to the lead on the study, Jeffrey Kim, D.D.S., Ph.D., the “viscosity,” or gumminess, of the e-liquid, and the chemicals that make up the flavor both can cause cavities. It seems only natural that inhaling flavors like cotton candy and gummy bear would impact your teeth just like eating them would. But e-cigarettes come with a host of other problems that sweets don’t.
The American Dental Association (ADA) states that “e-cigarettes [impact] on human health goes beyond respiratory and cardiac systems and may have significant implications on oral health.” Researchers found that the aerosol in e-liquid increased bacteria on the enamel by 4 times!
There are also oral health dangers beyond tooth decay. The combination of heat and aerosol liquid can have disastrous outcomes, including exploding in your mouth, causing orofacial trauma. The explosions result in burns and lacerations in the mouth and face, damage to the palate and nasal septum, and dislocation of teeth.
If you’re a concerned individual looking to improve the health of your family, community, or yourself when it comes to e-cigarettes, review this resource guide about e-cigarettes from the South Dakota Dept. of Health.
If you or someone you love needs help quitting smoking, whether traditional tobacco or e-cigarettes, FREE help is available from the SD QuitLine.
*Updated May 2022