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What are electronic cigarettes

  • Invented in China by pharmacist Hon Lik, who patented it in 2003.
  • A mechanism that heats up liquid nicotine, turning it into vapor that the “smoker” inhales and exhales.
  • Re-usable
  • Nicotine-free options
  • Users coined themselves “vapers” instead of “smokers”

How do they work

  • User inhales through a mouthpiece
  • Air flow triggers a sensor that switches on a small, battery-powered heater
  • Heater vaporizes liquid nicotine in a small cartridge – light is activated
  • Heater also vaporizes propylene glycol (PEG) in the cartridge
  • User gets a puff of hot gas that feels like tobacco smoke
  • User exhales a cloud of PEG vapor that looks like smoke.

Concerns for our oral and overall health

  • Pros of E-Cigs
    • regular cigs have 10 X higher the amount of nicotine than e-cigs.
    • Main difference between e-cigs and regular cigs is that e-cigs don’t contain tobacco.
    • doesn’t cause Halitosis,; bad breath.
    • no extrinsic stains, no yellow teeth
    • no “smokers breath”
    • No tar and ash, so less residue and plaque on tooth surfaces, which means less calculus.


  • Cons of E-Cigs
    • Currently, there is no regulation by the FDA, so we don’t know exactly what we are ingesting and what potential harmful affects they might lead to.
    • can be purchased online, it can be a stepping stone to regular cigs, especially teens.
    • Researchers at NYU, say that due to deeper inhalation and more frequency when puffing, e-cigs smokers may absorb more chemicals than those who smoke traditional cigarettes.
    • Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, so it allows less blood to flow through the veins, which would in fact lower the amount of oxygen and nutrients the gums need in order to stay healthy.

Role of the Dental Hygienist

  • Dental Hygienist play an important role to help patients recognize E-Cigs
    • Find out the reason why your patients are using E-Cigs.
    • Educating patients If E-Cigs contain nicotine, it raises the risk of gum diseases by increasing the pockets along the gum line.
    • Explain to patients the question ingredients in E-Cigs. (E.g. Diethyl Glycol, Nitrosomine)
    • Helping patients to chose and select the appriate and safe E-Cigs:
    • Nicotine level
    • Quality batteries
    • Ease of use
    • Multiple charging options
    • Customer service

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