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Electronic Cigarettes are not Harmless

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I’ve seen more than my share of “suspicious tissue change” in my dental career. I promptly refer these patients to an oral surgeon for evaluation, but some don’t take it seriously. Tobacco use creates much of it. It is too early to predict, but early lab studies on electronic cigarettes demonstrate that normal cells take on the characteristics of cancer cells, when people substitute them for cigarettes. ( from 4/25/2017).

Perhaps the most disconcerting information I’ve learned from a recent U.S. News article was that the U.S. Surgeon General reports that the flavorings in electronic cigarettes are one of the main reasons that teens are attracted to them. It certainly doesn’t hurt that e-cigs also lack the characteristic smell of cigarette use, so parents are less likely to suspect that their kid uses tobacco. The same article states that half the students who report that they use e-cigs also report that they use two or more tobacco products, such as a hookah or smokeless tobacco. That statement got to me.

Smokeless tobacco leaves its mark in the mouth, with irritation and sloughing cells in the area where it is stashed. When I received the oral surgeon’s report after my referral, my heart sank when I read some of them. Removing tumors can be disfiguring. Moreover, smokeless tobacco can make the gums recede – and they can’t grow back. Sometimes a periodontist can correct these defects, but they refuse until the referred patient stops using all tobacco products.

Finally, I urge my patients to proactively check the “stash areas” in the mouth of their teens and, if requested, I teach them the best method. Yes, it makes everyone uncomfortable. But isn’t it worth it?

Contact Winterset Dental today to find out which treatment is right for you.