Debates are raging about the health benefits and the risk of fumes, but one thing seems clear: fumes do not make teeth yellow – at least not in the short term.
New research shows that vapor from e-cigarettes and tobacco products that are not burned (HNB) causes "minimal" discoloration compared to the known effects of cigarette smoking. The findings are interesting, not least because no one seems to have thought to study the problem before.
The study was conducted by scientists from British American Tobacco (BAT) and published in the American Journal of Dentistry. The researchers compared the steam of an e-cigarette, the Glo-HNB device from BAT and a combustible cigarette.
"The data generated from this study clearly show that the [e-cigarette and HNB] products studied caused minimal discoloration – very promising for the consumers of our [Next Generation Products]," said Annette Dalrymple, senior researcher at BAT R & D. "However, further studies are needed to understand the long-term effects on tooth discoloration and oral health when smokers switch to NGPs."
The tests were carried out on enamel blocks cut from the teeth of cattle. The blocks were "incubated" with saliva for 14 days to form a layer of protective protein film called a pellicle, which is normally built up on teeth. The "teeth" were then exposed to steam (or smoke) equivalent to one pack of cigarettes per day for five days.
The enamel color was evaluated before, during and after the test. Color measurements were performed by trained scientists in an independent laboratory using a spectrophotometer. The blocks exposed to cigarette smoke were noticeably stained after one day, and the stain increased with daily exposure.
However, the enamel exposed to steam from an e-cigarette or HNB product showed little or no staining, comparable to control enamel exposed to neither steam nor smoke.
"Many studies have postulated that it's the tar in cigarette smoke that stains teeth," Dalrymple said. "We now have a method to quickly determine in the lab how much enamel has been discolored by cigarette smoke and vapor from our [e-cigarettes and HNB products]."