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A Dental Expert's Urgent Call For Smokers To Switch To E-Cigs

A renowned and respected dental expert has come out in support of vaping, urging smokers who are unable to quit to switch to vaping products or, where vaping products are unavailable, heated tobacco products (HTP). Fernando Fernandez, president of the Philippine College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (PCOMS) is urging smokers to do this “as a harm reduction measure,” as he reportedly believes that they mitigate the risk of oral cancer.

Encouraging Smokers to Use Vaping Products

“We warn our patients who are smokers that smoking is the leading cause of oral cancer and strongly advise them to quit smoking. For those who cannot or do not want to quit smoking by themselves or with currently approved methods, we convince them to switch to non-combustible alternatives,” said Fernandez.

Fernandez, who was once the president of the Philippine Dental Association, also said that encouraging patients to switch to the “safer” alternatives is a much better and more efficient strategy “than watching our patients who smoke, die of oral cancer.” He went on to speak about information from several studies, including that of Public Health England in the UK that found vaping to likely be at least “95% less harmful” than smoking. He also cited the UK Parliament Science and Technology group which has indicated that vaping presents an “opportunity to significantly accelerate already declining smoking rates.”

One of PCOMS’ largest goals is to promote awareness of oral cancer among Filipino dentists. “The dentist is the first line of defence against oral cancer. He or she will almost always be the first healthcare professional to notice potentially cancerous lesions in the patient’s mouth and other early symptoms of oral cancer,” Fernandez added.

Vaping’s Oral Health Benefits

Fernandez’s comments do not represent the first time that vaping’s oral health benefits have been discussed. In 2017, an Italian study looked at the oral condition of real-world vapers who had just switched to e-cigarettes from smoking. The clinical observation study took place at the Unit of Periodontology at the Calabrodental Clinic in Crotone and published in December of the same year.

The clinical observation study involved 110 participants and indicated that the shift from smoking to e-cigarettes and vaping devices “greatly improved” their oral health. Oral examinations took place at the start of the study then twice more every 60 days.

At the beginning of the study, 61% of participants in Group 1 (who had smoked for less than 10 years) and 65% of participants in Group 2 (who had smoked for longer than 10 years) experienced bleeding gums. At the end of the study, 92% in Group 1 and 98% in Group 2 no longer had any signs of this dental problem.

Another problem associated with smoking is the presence of plaque. At the start of the study, 85% from Group 1 had a ‘plaque index score’ of one out of three, with only 15 of them having zero plaque. In Group 2, three-quarters of participants had a plaque index score of two and none of them had zero. At the end of the study, 92% from Group 1 and 87% from Group 2 had a plaque index score of zero.

In a report published on their study, the researchers concluded that e-cigarettes can be “considered as a valuable alternative to tobacco cigarettes, but with a positive impact on periodontal and general health status.”

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