Some food for thought for our Purley patients who still smoke tobacco products.
A report out recently, discovered that the number of people who use vaping products is on the rise in the UK.
The biggest increase in this number comes from middle aged people, with around 20% in their mid forties to mid fifties using a vaping device last year. The largest group though, is still the 18-24 year olds, of whom around 30% ‘vape’.
Although there have been concerns expressed about the safety of this practise, and also perhaps, about the sweet sickly smell from some of them, it seems that vaping is here to stay, for the time being at least. Unless further research throws up some unexpected results, this would appear to be good news for those interested in promoting better oral health for smokers.
Why do people vape?
There seems to be two main reasons why people are turning to vaping instead of smoking more traditional cigarettes. One of these is that it is seen, by some, to be fashionable. For many though, it is a chance for them to kick the smoking habit more easily and effectively. These reasons may have a mixed effect on these vaper’s oral health.
For anyone who sees vaping as a fashionable thing to do, and who hasn’t smoked previously, this may not be a good thing. Although, at the Confidental Clinic, we would prefer people to vape rather than smoke, there is a real risk that ‘first timers’ may eventually be tempted to smoke ‘the real thing’.
There is an argument that vaping could be a gateway to smoking tobacco products. To this end, our advice would be, if you don’t smoke already, it is probably best not to vape as this could lead you to tobacco products, and there is also a risk that harmful effects may be discovered in the longer term.
Changing from cigarettes
For those who have switched from smoking to vaping, it is almost all good news. Whilst, as mentioned previously, there is a chance that harmful effects may be discovered later, the general consensus at the moment is that vaping is far less harmful than smoking cigarettes or cigars etc. From an oral health perspective, patients who switched to vaping from smoking can expect to see an improvement in their long term oral health, providing that they manage to refrain from reverting to smoking.
Amongst the oral health improvements you are likely to see are:
Less teeth staining – The tar in cigarettes can cause severe discolouration of the teeth. In cases of long term smokers, this may well be too significant to be improved by a teeth whitening procedure alone and replacing the damaged enamel with veneers may be the only way to achieve a desirable level of whiteness.
Fresher breath/gum health improvement – Smoking has long been known to be harmful to our gums, and smokers are at a significantly higher risk of gum disease than non smokers, or vapers. Although vaping products do not contain tar or some of the chemicals that cigarettes do, and may cause less irritation, it is worth pointing out that most do contain nicotine which can restrict the flow of blood to the gums which helps to fight infection. If you can avoid smoking AND vaping, your gum health will be much better.
Oral cancers – This is the big one. Oral, or mouth, cancers can, and do, kill. Around 2,500 people die, each year, in the UK from mouth cancer. In addition to this, thousands more will suffer from facial disfigurements that can create problems with swallowing etc. Although other factors can contribute to this serious disease, smoking is considered to be one of the leading causes. We always ask our Purley patients to see us for a check up every six months, but this is especially important for those who smoke. Early detection of mouth cancers may play an important part in the process of treating any issues that are found.
Ultimately, the choice of what you do with your body is the responsibility of the individual. With all the information and guidance now available surrounding smoking though, it would be widely considered to be reckless to actually start smoking now. Long term smokers may find it difficult to stop, but the general feedback from those who switch from cigarettes to vaping devices is that this method has been found, by and large, to be the easiest way to do so.
If you currently smoke and would like to see a dentist to discuss your oral health, and how to improve it, we are always happy to see you at the Confidental Clinic. You can arrange an appointment to see one of our dental team by calling us on 020 8660 8923.