Letter: Vaping contributes to oral health problems

From: Colleen Sullivan, licensed dental hygienist


Many are aware of Children’s Dental Health Month in February, but March 20 marks World Oral Health Day. The theme this year is "Live Mouth Smart" by practicing good oral hygiene habits and avoiding harmful habits that negatively affect oral and total body health.

In the last 25 years, there has been an increase in tooth decay, particularly in our youth. Sipping acidic drinks such as sodas, sport drinks and energy drinks is destroying teeth. Now a phenomenal increase in vaping in teens is addicting a new generation to nicotine, which further threatens their oral and total body health.

Nicotine is highly addictive and a vasoconstrictor. Constricting the blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. Dry mouth, receding gums, halitosis, stomatitis and tissue changes are associated with vaping. Dry mouth is also a risk factor for tooth decay. Nicotine alters DNA and is associated with promoting tumor growth in some cancers. It also interferes with brain development of the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. The vapors contain additional toxins associated with oral irritation, lung problems and cancer as well.

The decline in oral health in young people will only get worse with the use of e-cigarettes. Vaping has not been shown to be an effective means to stop smoking.

We can reverse the trend we now see in some young people and "Live Mouth Smart!" Find help: 1-800- QUIT-NOW and DrinksDestroyTeeth.com.