Wednesday, May 11, 2016

New E-Cigarette rules and how do they affect oral health?

            The FDA recently announced that it will regulate electronic cigarettes and their sales in a way that is similar to other tobacco products. USA Today reported this past week that the “FDA would have to approve all tobacco products not currently regulated that hit stores after February 2007.” Even though it has taken the FDA a little longer to get involved, it is important that everyone be aware of the potential risks (known and unknown) of electronic cigarettes.
            Many people assume that because e-cigarettes do not smell as strongly as traditional cigarettes, they are much healthier. The FDA is now requiring that all of the ingredients are reported and listed as harmful or potentially harmful if their long term affects are unknown. There is definitely some debate among experts on the harmful affects of e-cigarettes. But until we know more about the long term ramifications, many physicians will likely warn about their harmful potential.
            We know from years of clinical research that smoking or smokeless tobacco can negatively affect the health of your gums and contribute to irreversible gum disease. We also know that they increase your risk of oral cancer. However, we don’t know as much about how electronic cigarettes can or will affect your teeth or oral cavity. But I would definitely recommend reducing or eliminating your use of electronic cigarettes until more research is finalized. This is the same advice we would give to anyone using more traditional tobacco products.
            Finally, there is a debate to whether the e-cigarette can be an effective tool to help with smoking cessation. This may be true, but there is also an argument that these devices can be a gateway to the traditional tar-laden and chemical filled cigarettes. Is it possible both sides are correct? I’m sure we will learn more as time goes on.

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Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

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