Around 8% of people living in the U.S. use e-cigarettes, one major poll shows. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now has the authority to regulate all forms of nicotine, including the nicotine cartridges used in e-cigarettes, we still don’t have all the facts about vaping and dental health.
Could vaping be dangerous for your mouth?
E-cigarettes (also called vape pens) use a battery to heat up the liquid inside a special cartridge, creating a kind of aerosol “smoke” that users inhale. But as the American Lung Association warns, this isn’t just harmless water vapor.
The liquid (or e-juice) inside vaping cartridges usually contains nicotine made from tobacco, along with flavorings and other chemicals. (Even cartridges that claim to be nicotine-free have been shown to contain some nicotine.)
When the liquid in the cartridge heats up, more chemical compounds are formed. Researchers have found harmful substances in vape cartridges, including carcinogens (chemicals known to cause cancer) and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead.
The lithium-ion batteries in vape pens provide enough current to heat the liquid inside vape cartridges to 400° F in seconds, a CDC report shows. News reports have documented cases where people have been hurt when e-cigarettes have exploded or caused fires inside their mouths.
The American Dental Association’s stance on tobacco and nicotine products
Decades of research show that smoking and smokeless tobacco products are harmful to dental health. This is true whether people smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookahs (water pipes) or use chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco products. All of these products contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and known to affect brain development in children, teens and young adults.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has adopted policies relating to products that contain nicotine, including e-cigarettes. Our policies call for dentists to be fully aware of the health risks that come with tobacco use, including higher rates of tooth decay, gum disease, bone damage, tooth loss and more. Dentists are encouraged to screen patients for nicotine use — including tobacco and non-tobacco products — and provide counseling to help people quit.
The ADA is also concerned that marketing some nicotine delivery methods (such as vaping) as if they were less harmful than others is not a viable strategy for preventing deaths and disease caused by tobacco use.
View current ADA policies relating to nicotine and tobacco use here.