News + Issues

How e-cigarettes and hookah pens impact our oral health

E cig

With the recent popularity of the recreational use of e-cigarettes, vapes, RDA products and hookah pens as a “healthier” decision to traditional cigarettes, consumers are falsely convinced there are no harmful effects to these water vapor alternatives. The notion that these products pose no threat (or a lesser threat than the accompanying two) has encouraged smokers, nonsmokers and young people to consume them. Some consumers have bypassed any further research on these water vapor products and have already allowed it to become a replacement to cigarettes.

If we allow ourselves to think back to the introduction of cigarettes, we might remember their impact on society and popular culture. At one time, it was hard to find someone who did not smoke (Mad Men, anyone?) and the possibility that these addictive trends would endanger our oral health was far from anyone’s mind. Smoking was glorified, but also underestimated, which is why people are now either looking to quit, looking for alternatives, or simply not looking to change despite the dangers smoking does to an individual’s oral hygiene.

Researchers have conducted experiments on e-cigarettes and found that e-cigarette consumers acquired higher levels of chemicals toxins contrary to being advertised as harm reducing. E-cigarettes, contrary to popular belief, do contain formaldehyde, propylene glycol , acetaldehyde, as well as carcinogenic chemicals that can lead to oral cancer. Unfortunately, the e-cigarette consumers unknowingly have a higher risk of consuming toxins and nicotine then the traditional cigarette consumer. The nicotine absorbency is high in e-cigarettes due to the higher concentrations in the cartridges which varies depending on brand. A recent survey conducted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 6.8 percent of youth in grades 6-12 and six percent of adults consume e-cigarettes. That accounts for 14.5 million adults and approximately 5 million youth (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). I have witnessed that it is becoming a frequent trend to use e-cigarettes and hookah pens at social events and many young adults are not educated on these products.

This poses the question: will these products dwindle the number of nicotine consumers or hinder the movement to make smoking unappealing? The answer, well, more time and research will tell.

It is difficult to ignore how these water vapor alternatives effect our oral health. Authentic cigarettes are forced to adhere to certain regulations unlike e-cigarettes and hookah pens which are sold over the counter and contain no labels. E-cigarette still contain nicotine which can be severely harmful and cause damage to the mouth, gums, and the tongue. The nicotine in these products can still cause gingivitis, periodontal disease, tooth decay, loss of teeth and dry mouth among other effects yet to be discovered. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spoke out on e-cigarettes stating they contain a toxic found in antifreeze which can lead to cancer. People do not know that e-cigarettes contain many cancer-causing chemicals, one of them being nitrosamines.

These modern smoking crazes have been advertised as an alternative to the harmful ingredients in hookah and cigarettes, however, we cannot simply abide by these new alternatives and cease to question their impact on our oral health. The best alternative to maintaining oral health and the blueprint of our smiles is to avoid tobacco products entirely.

What other social myths do you wish were snuffed out? Tell us in the comments below?

Ahlam Shaabneh, University of Illinois at Chicago ’15, predental

Ahlam Shaab

My name is Ahlam Shaabneh and I am a second semester Junior at UIC. I am majoring in Biology and am a part of the Pre-dental Club in my University. I have been involved in many organizations as well as planned and hosted events on my own at UIC. I have recently joined SAB in its mission to create great events and experiences for students to enjoy. A big reason why you are reading this is because you have some of the same interests I do. I love learning about the amazing world we live in, and I find much of my time researching through the many things life introduces to a person. I not only plan to spread the knowledge of what I discover, but also hope that you will join me in spreading it to. After all, college and all its after school activities are learning experiences, and experiences are pretty awesome when we do them together!

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  1. Thanks Ahlam for this really good post. I found it very useful. Keep up the good work !

  2. Hey ASDA,

    Just wanted to give you a heads up that ASDA has been featured in the 2014 Top Dental Sites awards from under our “Top Dental Resources and Advice” section:

    Congratulations and keep up the awesome work with ASDA!

    Ashley @

    1. Thanks, Ashley! That’s great news. We appreciate the shout out.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Informative article thanks for sharing!

  4. I was not aware of the side-effects before reading this article. thanks for sharing …

  5. it’s very useful, thanks for sharing the article.

  6. Hi

    So what’s worse? E-cigs or traditional cigarettes? The writer states the obvious that we should not be consuming tobacco at all but fails to mention that this may or may not be a better option than traditional smoking.

    From someone who is trying to quit, I hear good things about e-cigs helping people cut down and eventually quit altogether from smoking anything.

  7. Hi there! Any suggestions where can I buy ecigs that are safe? Thanks!

  8. The impact is unevitable, that’s a fact! Although it has been proven scientifically that smoking natural tobacco leaves is a healthier alternative. You can buy them here and make your own cigarretes or fill your pipes. Cheers from Spain! And thanks for the information

  9. I think lots of people are well-versed about e-cigs. The electronic cigarette has no smell, no second hand smoke and none of the chemicals you find in a traditional cigarette. It won’t stain your teeth; the cost after initial purchase can be much lower than traditional cigarettes.

  10. Hookah pen is a term which is generally used to describe a disposable flavored e cigarette. After the explosion in popularity of electronic cigarettes, many shisha manufacturing companies have started producing hookah pens which mimic the taste of their most popular shisha tobacco flavors.

  11. I think that still have very clearly that cause this disease vapor cigarette.

    I imagine that eventually would have banned in many countries for something, they must be harmful to health but good few things are bad and we all.

  12. Today e-cigarettes are used by many people. E-cigarette helps to quit the smoking. Nicotine is highly addictive. Whether it’s delivered through a regular cigarette or an e-cigarette. Please quit all the drugs in your life. E-cigarettes are less harmful as compare to regular cigarette due to the presence of large amount of nicotine

  13. Actually, e-cigarettes only generate high levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in so called “dry hits”. There’s no e-cig user in this world who would enjoy dry hits and that’s why we adjust our “equipment” accordingly. The nicotine absorbency is also lower in e-cigarettes compared to traditional cigarettes. You might want to update this article.

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