Health Effects of Teen Smoking and Vaping
Teen smoking and vaping is a growing problem and can lead to oral health issues such as periodontal disease, tooth loss, and oral cancers.
The tobacco industry is influencing a new generation of tobacco users by marketing flavored vape products such as mint and cotton candy that appeal to teens. Vape pens are disguised as writing pens, highlighters, and data sticks, allowing young people to use tobacco products under the radar of parental supervision.
Smoking and Vaping Oral Health Issues
Effects of Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking negatively impacts every organ in the body and is a risk factor for many chronic illnesses. In addition to lung cancer, it can lead to oral cancer and periodontal disease. In extreme cases, smoking can cause tooth loss and jawbone deterioration. Nicotine can also cause heart and lung disease, whether it’s inhaled through a mist or burnt tobacco leaves.
Unfortunately, up to 75% of teenagers who smoke will be unable to kick the habit and risk becoming adult smokers.
Effects of Using a Vape Pen
Vaping can be a gateway to smoking because many teens don’t realize they’re still ingesting addictive amounts of nicotine when they inhale the mist.
Tobacco flavorings marketed to teens also contain unknown chemicals. Initial findings indicate that some of them are cytotoxins that can damage cells. Damage to the mouth, heart, and lungs can result from vaping just as it can from smoking.
More Oral Health Issues
It can take just days or weeks for a young person to become addicted to nicotine through smoking cigarettes or using a vape pen. Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth can indicate poor oral health in users. Swollen, puffy, or red gums and loose teeth are other warning signs. Spaces sometimes form between teeth, and ulcers may appear in the mouth. A visit to the dentist is needed if any of these problems occur. Poor oral health issues caused by smoking and vaping also increase the risk of illness and chronic health problems.
Studies about the benefits of flossing illustrate that the health of the teeth and gums directly affects overall health. Flossing removes harmful bacteria from the mouth, preventing them from entering the bloodstream and causing an inflammatory reaction that harms the lungs and cardiovascular system. Introducing toxic chemicals through the mouth by smoking can also lead to many more poor health effects.
Kicking the Habit
Your dentist can help your teen make the right decisions regarding smoking and vaping by educating them on the detrimental effects of both. If your teen smokes, you can help them fight nicotine cravings by suggesting strategies for getting through withdrawal:
- Substitute sugarless gum, fruit, and crunchy snacks for smoking
- Use nicotine gum or patches
- Exercise or take a walk each time a craving kicks in
- Talk to a friend for support
- Hang out in a place that prohibits smoking
Nicotine withdrawal can cause insomnia, anxiety, increased hunger, and weight gain. Besides discussing the risks of smoking and vaping and strategies for quitting, you and your teen’s dentist can emphasize that these withdrawal symptoms are temporary and well worth the rewards of having better health for a lifetime.
If your teen has been smoking or vaping, schedule an appointment with our dentist today to go over the oral health problems caused by this habit.