“We showed that when the vapors from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases,” explained Rahman, who last year published a study about the damaging effects of e-cigarette vapors and flavorings on lung cells and an earlier study on the pollution effects. “How much and how often someone is smoking e-cigarettes will determine the extent of damage to the gums and oral cavity.”
“We learned that the flavorings–some more than others--made the damage to the cells even worse,” added Fawad Javed, a post-doctoral student at Eastman Institute for Oral Health, part of the UR Medical Center, who contributed to the study. “It’s important to remember that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is known to contribute to gum disease.”
Most e-cigarettes contain a battery, a heating device, and a cartridge to hold liquid, which typically contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. The battery-powered device heats the liquid in the cartridge into an aerosol that the user inhales.
“More research, including long term and comparative studies, are needed to better understand the health effects of e-cigarettes,” added Rahman, who would like to see manufacturers disclose all the materials and chemicals used, so consumers can become more educated about potential dangers.
This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Study collaborators include first author Isaac K. Sundar, UR Department of Environmental Medicine, Fawad Javed, Department of General Dentistry, Eastman Institute for Oral Health at UR, Georgios E. Romanos, Department of Periodontology, School of Dental Medicine, Stony Brook University and Irfan Rahman, Department of Environmental Medicine at UR.