Electronic cigarettes have gained great popularity since arriving on the U.S. market in 2007.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 250 e-cigarette brands are currently on the market. So what’s the appeal? E-cigarettes have been marketed as a safe alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. They do not produce noxious smoke or contain tobacco and many of the chemicals associated with the growing and processing of tobacco. However, it’s important to understand that smoking e-cigarettes can still affect your health in a number of ways.

1. Blood Flow Restriction

While e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, their primary ingredient is still nicotine. Nicotine is considered a “vasoconstrictor” and restricts blood flow to the body. This reduction in blood flow can inhibit the mouth’s natural cleaning functions and slow down disease-fighting mechanisms.

2. Slower Healing

The nicotine found in e-cigarettes limits the body’s ability to heal and create new, healthy cells and tissues. Cuts and bruises, both inside and outside the body, take longer to heal and pain problems can become more chronic. This is caused when blood vessels tighten, reducing the delivery of nutrition and oxygen to the skin.

3. Addictive Qualities

The nicotine found in e-cigarette cartridges is highly addictive. When you stop smoking your e-cigarettes for an extended period of time, you can get the same withdrawal symptoms associated with conventional tobacco cigarettes. Irritability, depression, anxiousness, and restlessness are just a few of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Just like tobacco cigarettes, smoking e-cigs can become a hard habit to break.

4. Poison Risk

As nicotine is considered a toxin, individuals who use liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes are at risk, as well as children and pets in the household. Even in tiny amounts, these “e-liquids” can cause vomiting and seizures and can even be lethal when consumed or absorbed through the skin. According to the NY Times, a reported 1,351 cases linked to e-liquids were reported to the National Poison Data System in 2013.

5. Unknown Ingredients

E-cigarettes are new to the market and not yet heavily regulated. Most e-smokers do not know what they are actually inhaling into their bodies in the form of vapor. According to Scripps TV Station Group, when the FDA tested a small sample, they found several dangerous toxic chemicals. One chemical found was diethylene glycol, an ingredient usually found in antifreeze.

6. Cardiovascular Effects

Many smokers switch to e-cigarettes to gradually wean themselves off of traditional tobacco cigarettes. Unlike nicotine patches and other products that enter the system slowly, the chemicals in e-cigarettes are inhaled rapidly. The nicotine can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, as well as unpleasant symptoms like nausea, diarrhea and sweating.

7. Youth Marketing

E-liquids are currently being marketed in a wide variety of flavors, from watermelon to cotton candy. These appealing flavors are enticing younger and younger individuals and encouraging teens to smoke. Although e-cigarettes are being marketed as a way to try and kick the cigarette habit, e-cig marketing is actually getting more young people to smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of U.S. middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes has doubled from 2011 to 2012.

Manufacturers claim that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional tobacco cigarettes. However, research has shown that e-cigarettes share many of the health risks associated with regular cigarettes, including cardiovascular damage and addiction. Just like tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs can also harm your oral health, which can lead to consequences such as tooth decay, gum disease and other oral problems. For more information on how smoking e-cigarettes can damage your oral health, contact dentists in your area.