Aug 02, 2023

‘Vape tongue’ is a common issue with potentially disturbing aftereffects

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The list of health problems linked to vaping just got a little longer.

Dentists are noticing a disturbing uptick in patients who have “vaper’s tongue,” a loss of most or all of the taste in their mouth as a result of vaping flavored electronic cigarettes.

“This is really on the rise because of the popularity of these disposable vapes, which have all these ridiculous flavors,” Dr. Stewart Beggs, a cosmetic dentist in the UK, explained on TikTok. “It causes such a massive increase in nicotine and a really, really dry mouth that you lose your sense of taste completely sometimes.

“It’s really, really, really not good for your health,” added Beggs, as excessive dry mouth can also lead to tooth decay and fungal infections, per the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Vaper’s tongue happens because vaping leads to dehydration and dries the mouth, which can diminish the sensitivity of taste buds, writes

E-cigarette vapor can also contain ingredients such as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin that can coat the tongue and make taste buds less sensitive, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Moreover, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco cigarettes, so vaping itself becomes an addiction.

Medical experts have been warning about the impact of vaping for years, especially for young people — even though e-cigarettes are supposed to be illegal to sell to people under the age of 21 in most US states.

In 2022, more than 2.5 million middle and high school students in the US had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, including 3.3% of middle school students and 14.1% of high school students.

That doesn’t compare favorably to adults: The CDC reports that only 4.5% of US adults use e-cigarettes.

As of 2020, more than 2,800 e-cigarette users needed hospital admission due to vaping-related lung injuries, and 68 of these people died, according to the CDC. Most of these cases were among teens and young adults.

A number of cases of lung collapse caused by vaping have been reported, including some in teenagers. Some research has also linked vaping to an increased risk of high blood sugar and diabetes.

Vaping has, according to proponents, been effective as a steppingstone for people who are trying to quit smoking tobacco, but they are not a safe option for everyone, notes Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Additionally, some experts have found that the reverse is in fact true, and using vapes that contain nicotine often leads to an addiction to tobacco products like cigarettes.

And in a recent study in the journal of Frontiers in Oral Health that compared e-cigarette smokers to cigarette and nonsmokers, “the percentage of severe periodontal disease was much higher in the e-cigarette group than among the non-smokers.”

Earlier this month, the American Heart Association declared that e-cigarettes may be as dangerous to human health as traditional tobacco-filled cigarettes.

“E-cigarettes deliver numerous substances into the body that are potentially harmful, including chemicals and other compounds that are likely not known to or understood by the user,” Dr. Jason Rose, a professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, said in an AHA news release.

“[E]ven when nicotine is not present, ingredients in e-cigarettes, particularly flavoring agents, independently carry risks associated with heart and lung diseases in animals,” Rose added.

E-cigarette companies insist that their products are a way to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, but there is no strong evidence to support this beyond any short-term benefit, according to the AHA statement.

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