While much attention has been paid to the risks to lung health posed by vaping products, many dentists are concerned about the risks vapes pose to oral health. Many people view vaping products and e-cigarettes as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes, which have known oral cancer risks. But users of vaping products aren’t consuming just steam; they’re inhaling a hot aerosol full of dangerous chemicals – including nicotine. Dental experts say vaping products and e-cigarettes leave the mouth and teeth very vulnerable to infection and tooth decay in several ways:
- When nicotine is consumed, it restricts the blood flow to the gums.
- E-cigarettes stress the good bacteria that lives in the mouth, encasing them in slime and causing an inflammatory response.
- Vaping aerosols can fill the mouth with sugar-rich vapor – giving the mouth’s bacteria food to continue to produce acid that wears on teeth.
- Hot vapor can dry out the mouth. Without the good bacteria in saliva, this leaves the teeth vulnerable to decay.
Research by the American Dental Association Science & Research Institute found high-heat settings on e-cigarettes can change the physical and chemical properties of the aerosol that’s inhaled by the user, potentially causing oral health risks. Additional research is needed to fully understand the exact impacts of e-cigarettes on oral health – but dental experts have seen enough early studies to warn of the potential dangers. The American Dental Association supports bans on the sale of e-cigarette and vaping products – with exceptions only for FDA-approved, prescription-only tobacco cessation products. The American Dental Association also advocates for warning labels about oral health risks on all nicotine products, including vaping devices. Maintaining the health of teeth and gums is an important part of preventing bigger physical health conditions and issues. A recent Blue Cross Blue Shield Association survey found members diagnosed with dental and gum conditions are:
- 25% more likely to suffer heart disease
- Twice as likely to visit the emergency room or have a hospital stay
- More likely to suffer from autoimmune disorders, anemia and gastrointestinal disorders
This connection between dental health and overall health is part of the advantage Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan offers to employers as a multi-line carrier. By offering both medical and dental health plans, Blue Cross has transparency into both medical and dental claims to observe the impact of dental care on a member’s whole health. Blue Cross is able to understand which members are most at-risk for serious health complications and support them in addressing their gaps in care. This fosters better health and ultimately, lowers health care costs. More from MIBluesPerspectives:
- How to Help Your Employees Quit Smoking
- Why Health Experts Want to Crack Down on Menthol Cigarettes, Flavored Cigars
- Good Dental Habits in Children Lead to Good Overall Health
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