E-Cigarettes are growing in popularity nationwide, but that increased popularity may come at a serious cost to dental health. A recent story of a man in Idaho who lost nine teeth to an exploding e-cigarette highlights the types of injuries that can occur with these devices.

And evidence suggests that these incidents may be a lot more common than we previously believed.

Man with E-cigarette, vapes

Is This an Epidemic?

Some may object to our use of the term “epidemic” to describe e-cigarette explosions. After all, it had previously been thought that these kinds of injuries were relatively rare. In fact, a 2014 report from the US Fire Administration only cited 25 injury reports over the five years from 2009-2014. But a lot has happened in the last two years, possibly leading to a major spike in explosions and injuries.

The evidence that we may be facing an epidemic comes from a publication in the highly respected New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). In this article, a group of doctors provided a comprehensive tally of the e-cigarette-related injuries at their hospital over a period of nine months from October 2015 to June 2016. They had a total of 15 cases of e-cigarette related injury over these nine months at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC).

This is a huge jump in injuries. Instead of 5 injuries a year in the entire country, there were 15 injuries in nine months at one hospital. If this population is typical, that translates into about 15,000 injuries a year in the US. That sounds like an epidemic.

Why the Rise in Injuries?

There are many reasons for the potential spike in injuries. One is that many more people are using vaporizers now than in the past. There are about nine million adult regular vape users in the US. This is a huge increase for a device that had few users in 2009.

Along with the growth of sales we have seen a growth of manufacturers entering the industry. Regulation of these devices is lax and has significant gaps in standards and certification of these devices. As a result, some devices may not be well constructed to avoid the explosions and fires that can come with the rechargeable batteries built into the devices. Combine this with a casual attitude toward maintenance and charging and you have a dangerous environment where injuries are likely.

It’s also possible that the UWMC population is not representative. This could be a local spike in injuries not reflected on a national level. But even if we saw half the level of injuries around the country, this is still a serious issue that will need to be addressed.

Restoring Smiles after E-Cigarette Injury

When people do experience injuries as a result of e-cigarette fires and explosions, reconstructive dentistry may be required to give a person a healthy, whole smile again. Most people experienced burn injuries (80% had flame burns and 33% had chemical burns), with only a minority of blast injuries (27%).

Because injuries often occur during charging and storage, the face was actually a less likely place to be injured. Only 20% had facial injuries, as opposed to the 33% that had hand injuries and the 53% that had thigh or groin injuries.

When a vape explodes in the mouth, as in the case of the Idaho man, it can lead to the loss of teeth. Lost teeth can be replaced with dental implants. Other teeth may also be damaged. The Idaho man had seven teeth lost at first, but two others were deemed beyond saving and were extracted. If damaged teeth can be saved, they may require a dental crown to repair them.

Whether your teeth have been damaged by an e-cigarette injury or other cause, reconstructive dentistry can put your smile right again. Please call (201) 343-4044 today for an appointment with a reconstructive dentist at River Edge Dental, New Jersey’s center for TMJ, sleep apnea, & reconstructive dentistry.