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Electronic Cigarettes from a Dental Perspective

The e-cigarette is becoming increasingly popular. More and more smokers are discovering steaming and switching from tobacco cigarettes to vaporizers. A controversial debate has now emerged regarding whether the electronic cigarette is dangerous compared to conventional smoking, and if so, what are those dangers? Governments and experts seem to be at a loss and cannot form a common opinion on the subject, so we’ll try to get to the bottom of things in this article.
The pros and cons of the cigarette are also discussed with regards to the field of dentistry.

The Electronic Cigarette Introduces Itself

Many people still do not know exactly what an e-cigarette is. In simple terms, it is a device which produces vapor. The liquid in the container of the vaporizer is heated to 200 degrees Celsius. This vapor is then inhaled by the user, thus simulating the consumption of a conventional tobacco cigarette.
This fact makes vaping attractive to smokers who see it as a chance to get rid of their habit, which is usually very difficult. These types of cigarettes are by no means a new thing. The first product was patented in 1965 in the USA. The modern e-cigarette, as we know it today, was developed by Hon Lik of China. It was supposed to help his father, a heavy smoker, to overcome his vice. In 2005 he patented his invention, an electronic evaporator with a container for the liquid.

The Different Models

The first generation of e-cigarettes looked like conventional cigarettes. They are still available today and are often bought by newcomers due to their low price.
The second generation looks more like a pen and has a refillable cartridge. The third generation of modern evaporators has several additional features. For example, the voltage can be adjusted to allow steamers to customize the unit. Today, nearly 500 different models with several thousand liquids and different flavors are available on the market.

Who Uses E-cigarettes?

The electronic cigarette is used primarily for smoking cessation. As a general rule, steamers are former smokers and people generally do not become steamers from the beginning.
However, there is also some criticism, because it is assumed that young people are attracted to steaming. The devices often look stylish and the liquids are available with tasty flavours. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that these consumers will switch from steaming to smoking.
Another problem of the e-cigarette is the lack of regulation. There are no worldwide standards. In Europe, the following rules apply:
  • Containers containing nicotine must have child resistant closures.
  • The packaging has to clearly indicate the content of nicotine.
  • Manufacturers are not allowed to promote positive health benefits.
  • Labels from the tobacco industry must not be used.

E-cigarettes from a Dental Perspective

Although long-term studies still need to be carried out, it has been found that e-cigarettes can be effective in smoking cessation. After all, 22.5% of smokers have managed to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes completely while another 32.5% have been able to reduce their consumption considerably.
So far, there are no studies stating whether the short-term use of liquids causes damage to health. Also, little attention has been paid to dental aspects. This is quite a surprise because it has been proven that tobacco consumption causes damage to the mouth and teeth.
There are some studies showing that vaping probands have been surveyed, with dryness and irritation in the oral cavity stated most often. It can be safely assumed that the damage can be widely reduced and that the risks of diseases such as oral cancer and periodontitis can also be reduced.
Clinical studies could not show any significant negative effects of nicotine itself. Damage is usually caused by tar and other toxic substances released during the burning of the tobacco.
In fact, e-liquids contain far fewer toxic substances than tobacco cigarettes. Another positive aspect is that no yellowish plaque will form, which is a contributing factor for periodontitis.

What Does the Future of the E-cigarette Look Like?

The coming years could become interesting for the development of the electronic cigarette. Following this trend, the tobacco industry will also be involved in the production and research, due to the increasing market share of the e-cigarette.
When medics are asked for their opinion, they are usually reluctant, as long-term studies are still pending. In addition, the legal status of this product is still uncertain. The answers given by the doctors also depend on their country of residence. For instance, while no regulations have been made in Germany, it is a different story in Great Britain, where the e-cigarette is legal.
In summary, the electronic cigarette has many positive features, and only a few negative ones. The e-cigarette could therefore play a crucial role in the battle against tobacco consumption.

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