Dental Health Week draws attention to the dangers of vaping | Port Stephens Examiner

EXPERT HELP: Dr. Sue-Ching Yeoh says the role of oral health professionals is important in highlighting the long-term consequences of vaping. Photo: Supplied

A series of headline-grabbing incidents have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The five-year-old boy was hospitalized with severe breathing difficulties after having a vape containing chemicals in the schoolyard.

The 71-year-old died from what the emergency department doctor directly attributed to his 10-year vaping habit.

However, a surprising line of defense is arming itself to fight against the rise of e-cigarettes: dentists.

Dr Sue-Ching Yeoh said the role of oral health professionals was important in highlighting the long-term consequences of this dangerous habit.

As an oral medicine specialist and spokesperson for the Australian Dental Association on vaping, Dr Yeoh said, “Vaping is undoubtedly very dangerous”.

“In many cases, dentists will be the first line of defense in spotting harm from vaping,” she said.

“They have an important role to play in slowing or stopping the vaping trend by asking questions about smoking and vaping habits, offering patients advice on the health risks of vaping and helping them quit. smoking and vaping.”

Dentists could refer patients to an oral health specialist for further treatment and investigation if necessary.

Get the facts

Poison Information Centers have recorded more than 300 cases of nicotine poisoning and vaping-related hospitalizations.

In many cases, dentists will be the first line of defense in this detection of vaping harm, and they have an important role to play in slowing or stopping the vaping trend.

– Dr. Sue-Ching Yeoh

Some schools have resorted to installing steam detectors in bathrooms to try to control their use.

Australia’s latest National Drug Household Survey showed vaping is on the rise, doubling in popularity among 14 to 17 year olds and quadrupling among 25 to 29 year olds in the three years to 2019.

Nearly two in three smokers and one in five non-smokers aged 18 to 24 said they had tried e-cigarettes, those who had used them at least once a month.

The health consequences have been researched, with information describing harmful substances in e-cig liquids may increase the risk of lung disease, heart disease and cancer.

A 2021 study by Curtin University found that e-cigs contain harmful chemicals linked to bladder, lung and gastrointestinal cancers.

Respiratory medicine experts claim that higher levels of nicotine exposure cause neurophysical damage as well as coughing, wheezing and asthma in users.

Any long-term effects, however, may not be known for years.

Front line fight

The mouth is the first part of the human body to encounter harmful elements when vaping.

A 2021 study published in the Australian Dental Journal describes common side effects reported by patients.

They included dry mouth, burning, irritation, bad taste, bad breath, pain, lesions of the oral mucosa, black tongue and burning. Throat symptoms included tonsillitis, tonsil stones, inflammation of the uvula, swelling of the trachea, and laryngitis.

The cloud created by vaping occurs when glycerol, glycol and nicotine are heated to very high temperatures.

This process produces extremely toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. The mouth absorbs 45% of these toxins. What remains travels to the rest of the body, such as the lungs.

Other research shows that the saliva of e-cigarette users may contain carcinogens commonly associated with conventional smoking.

Yet the common public perception is that vaping is just flavored water, so users think it’s safer than smoking cigarettes.

But many vaping products contain high and often dangerous levels of nicotine, and little research indicates that e-cigarettes help smokers quit.

“Studies show that e-cigarette use is expected to have adverse health effects in the oral cavity, including an increased risk of precancerous lesions and the development of cancers,” Dr Yeoh said. “In addition, there is a high risk of developing dry mouth, gum disease, and oral fungal infections.”

Vaping Laws

Under 2021 federal laws, anyone wanting a quit smoking vaping product needs a doctor’s prescription to allow users a three-month supply.

Yet young people have been able to purchase “over the counter” vaping products at newsagents, convenience stores, or find and purchase them online.

The NSW and Victorian governments have banned vaping in public places.

The Federal Department of Health is to review current vaping restrictions in the second half of 2022.

Information published with the kind permission of the Australian Dental Association. Visit teeth.org.au for more information.