E-cigarettes use a battery powered heating element to deliver nicotine and flavorings to the user. It is also commonly known as ‘vaping’. They refer to these as vaping instead of smoking because they produce a vapor instead of burning. They are continuing to gain popularity, especially among the millennial generation. Part of their rise in popularity is because E-cigarettes have been touted as a safer option than traditional cigarettes, and there is some truth to that. However, the long term affects are still mostly unknown.
One advantage e-cigarettes have over traditional cigarettes is they contain much less nicotine than traditional cigarettes. While that is an obvious advantage, nicotine is still a highly addictive substance in that amount. The side affects that are associated with nicotine use include depression, anxiety, and irritability.
Traditional cigarettes can stain your teeth, cause gum disease, and even lead to oral cancer. E-cigarettes are less likely to cause staining, but the nicotine still has the ability to interfere with your saliva. This can lead to dry mouth, increased bacteria, and increased risk of tooth decay.
There is also concern that e-cigarettes can serve as a gateway drug to using traditional cigarettes. Many young people perceive e-cigarettes to be much milder and less addictive. However, once they are addicted to the nicotine the potential risk of cigarette use greatly increases.
While e-cigarettes are likely healthier than traditional cigarettes, I am in no way advocating for their use. There may be some advantages in using them to assist in quitting smoking, but I would recommend talking with your medical doctor before trying anything on your own.
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Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS