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Article: Volume 41 Number 8 Page 667 - October 2014

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  Dent Update 2014; 41: 667-676

General Dentistry:  Electronic Cigarettes: Harm Reduction or Another Addiction?; the Dental Perspective

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Abstract: The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has grown rapidly over recent years with an estimated 2.1 million people ‘vaping’ in the UK. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices which simulate smoking. A heated element vaporizes chemicals, usually nicotine plus diluents like propylene glycol and glycerine as well as flavourings, which are then inhaled. Only limited research exists on the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes and opinions are divided in the health profession as to whether they should be endorsed or not. Similarly, at a regulatory level and among the general public, an intense debate is taking place as to how they should be considered. In this paper we will review the available research with regards to e-cigarette contents, safety and health effects. As the mouth will take the initial insult from the vapour, we consider the potential effects on oral health as well as discussing the current regulatory and political position, so that we can be in a more informed position to advise our patients.

Clinical relevance: As dental health professionals it is already our duty of care to educate patients about the impact of smoking on their oral health. So if patients look to alternatives in the form of e-cigarettes, it is important that we are informed about this new technology and its potential effects on oral health to be able to advise in discussions on the subject.

Author notes: Richard Holliday, BDS(Hons), MFDS RCS(Ed), NIHR, Academic Clinical Fellow/Specialty Registrar in Restorative Dentistry, Catherine Horridge, BDS, General Professional Trainee, Margaret Corson, BDS, MSc FDS(Rest Dent), Consultant in Restorative Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry Department, Newcastle Dental Hospital, Richardson Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE4 2AZ, UK.

Objective: To discuss the issues around electronic cigarette use and potential implications on general and oral health.