Talk to Your Teen About the Harmful Effects of Vaping

Talk to Your Teen About the Harmful Effects of Vaping
Posted on 01/03/2018

As kids transition from grade school to middle or high school, they're tempted to try grownup activities that aren't necessarily good for them. One of these newest temptations is the use of an electronic, or e-cigarette.

This habit, called vaping, is intended to replace tobacco smoke with a vaporized form of the drug. Many believe that vaping is a harmless habit because you’re not inhaling smoke. However, vape pens aren’t any better for your oral health than regular cigarettes.

Here’s how you can discuss vaping and its effect on teeth with your kids.

Understand the Facts

Learn all that you can about vaping and its effects on oral health, and use the information to motivate your child in a way that works on a personal level.

If your child enjoys science, math, and other fact-based pursuits, then they might respond to peer-reviewed research and statistics. Other kids may be more swayed by images of the harmful effects of vaping. Your goal shouldn’t be to use fear or intimidation but to introduce your child to the truth.

Vaping Causes Inflammation

E-cigarette vapors cause inflammation — called stomatitis — in the cell lining of the mouth. Oral cells that are exposed to flavored e-vapors become more inflamed than cells that are exposed to flavorless e-cigarette vapors. 

Over time, inflammation leads to diseases of the gums, teeth, and mouth. Some people develop bloody sores in their mouths and very sore throats after vaping. Some dentists have even reported lesions in the mouth that appear to be caused by burns from e-cigarettes. 

E-Cigarette Vapor Carries Chemicals

E-cigarettes vaporize nicotine in a base liquid that's loaded with other chemicals. Some of these chemicals include:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Acetaldehyde
  • Benzene
  • Acrolein

E-cigarette vapor has also been reported to contain some trace amounts of metal like manganese.

Toxic Chemicals Increase as Coils Get Hotter

As a high-voltage vape device heats up, the percentage of aldehydes in the vapor increases. Aldehydes are formed by the oxidation of alcohol and include formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, which are known toxins.

The reason that levels of toxic aldehydes are so much higher after many uses is simple: a gunky deposit left on the coil after many puffs of the device does not burn off as fresh liquid would do. As a result, different, more toxic chemicals are formed and inhaled.

Scientists are still researching the effects that vaping has on our overall health. As more studies are concluded, their findings help dentists know more about the true cost of using an e-cigarette or vaporizer. Your dentist is also a good source for literature on the effects that vaping has on teeth. You should also check out resources online to learn the latest research findings and recommendations. 

Set a Good Example

Even when they're going through phases of believing that their parents are un-cool, most kids imitate their parents. If you act as if smoking a vape or an e-cigarette is okay for you but not your child, they might not take your warning seriously and begin using a vape — their rationale being that their parent does it, so it can't hurt them.

More importantly, vaping isn’t only harmful to teens. All of the dangers associated with vaping and e-cigarettes can affect adults as well. The best way to show your kids that vaping is dangerous is to stop doing it yourself. While you might try to hide your habit by vaping only when your kids are around, smoking is a hard habit to hide, and your kids could likely still find out.

Discuss the Risks

If you suspect that your child is using a vape, discuss the issue in the context of other unhealthy behaviors. If you focus on vaping alone, a defiant or sensitive teen might shut down or overreact. Instead, find a moment when you can discuss vaping along with other health risks and issues, like:

  • Oral piercings 
  • Smoking
  • Excessive energy-drink consumption
  • Illicit drug use 
  • Alcohol use

Like vaping, these behaviors cause gum disease and tooth decay. As you approach each subject, remember to stress the effects that each one of these activities has on your teen's teeth. Many teens are proud of their healthy teeth. They'll avoid unhealthy behaviors out of sheer vanity, even if they don’t understand — or don’t care about — the long-term consequences.

Your dentist is also qualified to explain the risks of e-cigarette and vaporizer use to your teen. Better still, the dentist can show your child images of the harm that is caused by vaping. Sometimes, another adult's wisdom reaches a child who refuses to listen to their parents.

At Treasured Smiles Dentistry, we help parents and kids have healthy, bright smiles. We specialize in working with kids and teens, as well as adults. Call today to schedule a checkup or other dental appointment for you and your kids.