Vaping’s Not So Cheap And Not So Cool When You’re Paying For Cavities
Vaping’s Not So Cheap And Not So Cool When You’re Paying For Cavities
It’s a word that came about when Phil Ray, a co-founder of CTC (Computer Terminal Corporation), worked with his personal physician Norman Jacobson to create the first commercialised version of the e-cigarette.
It wasn’t electronic and it relied on evaporating the nicotine.
There had already been a prototype designed in 1965 by one Herbert A. Gilbert and it took until 1979 for Ray and Jacobson took up the mantel. What they had developed was inherently faulty; but it instigated numerous nicotine inhaler patents to be filed throughout the 1990s and early 2000s by both individual inventors, and tobacco companies.
Smoking tobacco lost its cool long after it should have, and put a synthetic replica in its place.
Indeed, smoking represents a passionate waywardness and that will always be cool. It’s a language, an exposition; the allegory of not-caring-too-much about living because fate holds out a stronger, sexier hand.
Like methadone replacing heroin, vaping is not so much an anti-smoking magic bullet but a game of Russian roulette without an empty chamber. The idea of it being some kind of ‘plant-powered peace of mind’ is a furphy.
Seductive cigarette drags on the silver screen may no longer exist, but changes in smoking laws mean that tobacco smoking in movies and television series apparently portray more of it than is happening in real life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use in top-grossing movies jumped 57% from 2010 to 2018, while in reality, smoking rates in the US decreased from 19.3% to 13.7% over that same period.
All of it was without explanation by the CDC, but to think that Big Tobacco had disappeared from the big screen in a puff of smoke is trusting the untrustworthy. The production industry has been busted, made promises to give it up, and it’s still lighting up around the back near the bin.
Once the embodiment of style, cigarettes were all but butted out in Hollywood films and TV shows by the year 2000. Whether it’s something more sinister or just popular plots and themes it’s making a comeback. What’s certain is that nothing in Hollywood happens by chance. These are not indiscriminate creative decisions. The Netflix series The Umbrella Academy has plenty of smoking, as do Orange is the New Black, Law & Order: SVU and Modern Family. The 2021 return of Sex And The City dressed as And Just Like That had the Carrie Bradshaw character smoking again after quitting for decades.
Kate Winslet vapes in Mare of Easttown. A 2021-2022 study to determine the extent of e-cigarette-related imagery and dialogue in Netflix content aimed at young adults. Of 125 titles, 13% had e-cigarette-related content. Thirteen titles showed at least one character holding an e-cigarette. Three other shows mentioned vaping without the device on camera with the average e-cigarette screen time at 31 seconds.
Almost a hundred percent of the time a vape appeared on screen it was in the hand of a character.
According to the US Surgeon General, youngsters and teens exposed to onscreen smoking are between two-and-three times more likely to take it up. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that the specific areas of the brain responsible for nicotine addiction are activated by simply watching someone smoke on screen.
Ostensibly that’s a nail in the coffin of trying to give up coffin nails unless you watch blindfolded.
There is also recent evidence that the effect of nicotine on developing brains creates a greater vulnerability for other addictions.
In that way it a gateway drug. How interesting that it’s not in the way many would have previously thought.
Tobacco companies once paid big bucks for brand recognition which was subsequently banned in Australia in 1992, followed by the US in 1998. Legislation prevented cigarette product placement on the big screen in 1998, and it’s been almost two decades since Disney banned smoking in all its movies.
All major studios have policies for the restriction of smoking on screen. Disney is certainly the most stringent, but it too makes allowances for historical accuracy and creative licence.
Films that include smoking affect the age rating. Fantastic Mr Fox was deemed PG because each time farmer Frank Bean appears he’s sucking on a cigarette. (That he brews and drinks cider seems a rather moot point.)
The Screen Actor’s Guild has very strict rules about smoking with guidelines preventing the use of tobacco in the workplace. Most cigarettes on screen are herbal, made of corn silk, rose petals and clover leaves – a much more pleasant thought than synthetic flavouring, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine.
Yet somehow, smoking has phoenixed.
Every year tobacco companies have to certify to the US Federal Trade Commission that there has been no money exchanged for product placement in any film, TV show or video game. But the agreement doesn’t cover streaming – and there’s the loophole. The enormous quantity of content makes it all but impossible to monitor. Despite undertaking a guarantee to limit on-screen smoking, and knowing the results of the targeted study, Netflix happily lingers as the worst offender.
The Lionsgate production Mad Men is set in an advertising agency in the 1960s when mostly everybody smoked.
Everywhere and anywhere. At work, in restaurants, on planes, trains and automobiles, by teachers in classrooms, patients in hospital wards, at the cinema, post-coitally under a polyester bedspread … wherever someone found themself, they could spark up. As a symbol of the lifestyle portrayed, actor Jon Hamm smoked 74 cigarettes just shooting the pilot.
From mounting research and in-patient evidence, vape users can do that on a regular basis.
There are no recorded deaths from smoking a few packets of cigarettes, but a few ‘cloud chasers’ have died after just a month of the habit.
Not a recommended method for giving it up.
When heated at the recommended standard temperature of 3 volts, tests done on the vapour of seven cannibis (THC) cartridges purchased from licensed dispensaries, there was no indication of dangerous chemicals being produced.
However, many vaping pens allow the heat to be cranked up to twice that with harmful consequences and making it much more dangerous than smoking a cigarette.
According to available data, a pioneering test found a toxic stew of dangerous chemicals in the vapour produced by some illicit THC vape cartridges. Although US federal health officials and a number of private companies have previously published results on cannabis oils in vapes, a new report is believed to be the first to comprehensively analyse the vapour people are taking into their lungs.
All six bootleg THC cartridges tested produced vapours of high-level pesticides and other injurious substances.
One Hawaiian product (Maui Wowie) reportedly contained 1,500 times the legally accepted level of pesticides that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would consider fatal.
Hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid; HCN) was found in each mix.
As a colourless liquid or gas, HCN is used in cigarettes as well as in synthetic fibre, plastics and dye production, fumigants, iron and steel hardening, electroplating, mining, paper, rubber, wool and silk as an illustration of its reach. There are many more instances, but you get the gist.
Even as a systemic asphyxiant it can be metabolised in small doses. Greater exposure than the body can deal with completely interferes with the capacity to properly utilise oxygen. It affects every organ, with the greatest effects on the brain, the heart, and the respiratory system.
Hydrogen cyanide spills into streams and rivers are responsible for massive fish kills and the decimation of aquatic biota. Any body of water containing cyanide is hazardous to wildlife; particularly for bats, microbats and migratory waterfowl because why keep all this toxicity to ourselves.
Formaldehyde is another of the identified chemicals in some vape liquids.
When cigarettes burn, the cellulose fibres, sorbitol, guar gum, and sugars create formaldehyde – so although it’s not an additive, it’s certainly there. Mostly recognised for its use in embalming, formaldehyde does occur naturally as part of the normal metabollic process of most living things, but as usual, as human beings we push it.
Commercially, the short-list of formaldehyde use is in laboratories, furniture and furnishings production, paper and glue products, permanent-press fabrics, cosmetics, medicines, scented candles, and as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant.
Taking it directly into your lungs is a whole other ball game.
Vaping continues to be a threat to the health of the global adolescent population. Worldwide in 2021, 35% of high school students admitted to vaping daily; most notably across the US, UK, France and Japan.
In the US alone, as of February 2020, 2,807 patients of all ages have been hospitalised with EVALI (E-Vape Associated Lung Injury) with 68 reported deaths.
15% of those were less than 18 years of age.
Vaping every day for three years left a Utah teen with a rare lung disease that needed an induced com and left her on steroids with nightly oxygen.
All from inhaling the moisture from e-liquids into the lungs – a perfect environment for bacteria.
In Israel a 15-year-old died in hospital after seemingly disconnecting himself from an ECMO machine for respiratory and cardiac assistance after being admitted with collapsed lungs from vaping.
In Russia a 12-year-old boy died after a night of vaping with his 18-year-old sister and her 17-year-old friend. His sister ended up in intensive care; her friend in a coma. They’d all been found unconscious in the morning by the friend’s grandmother.
It could have been the opening scene of a horror movie.
The stickiness of the aerosol seems the major culprit.
Separate research published in 2020 found that e-cigarette usage completely and rapidly changes a person’s oral microbiome.
Within six months of use, oral health profiles had been altered at the molecular level: changes that would have been seen after five years of cigarette smoking.
What’s even more alarming is that vape users have different types of oral bacteria.
They have ones that thrive on heated e-liquid ingredients, such as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine. With bacteria constantly looking for food sources, it can feed off vape residue for more than 10 hours.
There are a number of reasons the Darth Vapor journey will end with a mouth full of fillings.
The vapourised fluid coats the teeth because of its viscosity. Common compounds found in these liquids become acidic when they convert to a fine spray. Without a hint of la surprise, fruity and creamy flavours contain an array of different sugars that erode tooth enamel with consistent contact.
One of these artificial sweeteners, sucralose – often used as a nil-calorie sugar replacement – poses minimal risk when ingested; high temperature heating breaks it down into damaging chemicals.
As well as just that one, there are other sugars providing sustenance for the acid-producing bacteria that live on and around our teeth; with still other, different sugars affecting how microbes behave.
Which is very, very badly, according to the research.
It’s important to understand that it’s preliminary data, but there needs to be an acknowledgement of what dentists are observing and treating. Further studies are planned for the affects e-cigarettes have on the microbiology of saliva.
Tufts researchers recommend that dentists routinely ask their patients about vaping as part of their medical history. And that includes pediatric dentists who see adolescents.
It also suggested that patients using e-cigarettes be considered for a “more rigorous caries management protocol,” which would include in-office fluoride applications, check-ups more often than twice a year, and prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste and fluoride rinses as well.
US health officials are cracking down on a brand of fruity disposable vapes popular with teenagers, saying the company never received permission to sell them.
They include flavours like strawberry, mango, pink lemonade, Twinkies and Cinnamon Toast Crunch – part of the reason for the concerning tooth decay, because the sweetness has young people vaping 24/7: they’ll keep their devices under their pillow and use them during the night.
And that’s just the kids.
Who knows what the 68 million to 82 million adult vapers in the world get up to. Maybe trying to catch up to the 1.25 billion tobacco smokers who are trying to get down to the millions.
Certainly, based on factors like diet or other oral health issues, both these groups are considered at high risk for tooth decay with e-cigarette users at a significantly higher risk compared with those who don’t vape.
Previous research found that decay associated with e-cigarettes forms on the ends of the front teeth – areas rarely affected because they’re easier see, access and brush. But of course it’s the area that cops the brunt of every single inhalation and exhalation.
The management of cavities takes time and money. As well as discomfort and pain. Exactly how much depends on how bad it gets.
Once you’ve started a vaping habit, even keeping up with the required fillings and extra dental visits there’s still the constant risk of secondary caries – lesions associated with the initial treatment for the cavity.
Vape. It’s a four-letter word and a very long sentence.
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