A cartoon image of a box of cigarettes.

Cigarettes & E-Cigs vs. Your Teeth, Gums, & Body

In our recent “Tobacco and Your Dental Health” blog, we discussed how tobacco harms your teeth. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine reveals new development about cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is the cause of at least 29 percent, or one in three (more than 167,000), of all U.S. cancer deaths in 2014. Find why you should stop smoking to protect your teeth.

The Danger of Cigarettes and E-Cigs

Oral cancer was identified as one of a dozen smoking-linked malignancies. This includes throat, lung, stomach, liver, colorectal, pancreatic, kidney, bladder and uterine cancers, as well as leukemia. The rates of cancer were higher in southern states, where there are fewer smoking restrictions. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now ranks smoking as the number-one cause of preventable deaths in America.

Smokers have recently turned to electronic or e-cigarettes, whose sales have skyrocketed since their introduction a few years ago. They’re smokeless, emitting a vapor instead. Some believe that e-cigs are safer than tobacco-burning products.

While no long-term studies have been done yet, the American Association of Dental Research (ADA) recently updated its policy to stipulate that oral disease related to tobacco use should be considered “inclusive of e-cigarettes.” This past summer, a law was passed requiring e-cig buyers to prove they are over age 18, and pregnant women are advised to avoid them.

Most e-cigs contain nicotine, which is addictive. Formaldehyde, which is potentially carcinogenic, can also be found in these devices. So far, reported health effects include pneumonia and other lung problems, tachycardia, congestive heart failure, artery damage, and seizures.

A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) found that regular use may be responsible for periodontal disease. It contributes to microbial biofilm buildup causing increased gum inflammation, tooth discoloration, and bad breath. If you are a tobacco user, you should be under the regular care of a general dentist and periodontist to help you to prevent damage. Regular checkups in 3-4 month intervals are necessary to evaluate the health of your gums and soft tissues.


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