Kids and Vaping

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS, FAGD

An article in the May/June issue of General Dentistry addressed some of the issues with electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), vaping, and oral health. Considering that it took decades of research to make the correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, one pressing concern with ENDS is the unknown. According to the article, a recent National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that more than 5 million children and teens are vaping in the U.S. The public should be aware of some simple facts and considerations. ENDS products provide nicotine just like smoked cigarettes but with fruity flavors and smells which makes it more attractive. Because of this, children are being exposed to the addiction of nicotine. Research suggest vaporized nicotine can harm brain development in adolescents and is toxic to developing fetuses. Clinically, we can see gingival inflammation and patients reporting associated pain due to vaping. One study found that 80% of study participants who used e-cigarettes had an oral mucosal lesion. Because of the high sugar concentration in the flavoring liquids, an increase in bacterial attraction/adhesion to tooth enamel was found. Despite what is publicized, what we know is that vaping is tobacco use and there is no safe form of tobacco use.