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Developing healthier lifestyles at a young age is essential to your teens’ overall oral health. A great place to encourage teenagers to a healthier lifestyle starts with avoiding harmful substances that may have adverse and long-lasting effects, such as tobacco products and alcohol.

The use of tobacco products continues for teenagers despite the warnings and dangers. According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), 5.6 million Americans under 18 will die from a smoking-related illness. In 2020, 2,807 e-cigarette hospitalization cases were reported to the CDC.

We strongly encourage avoiding:

  • Cigarettes, cigars, and cigarillos
  • E-cigarettes (vaping)
  • Hookah (water pipe)
  • Smokeless tobacco (snuff, chew, and dissolvable)

Tobacco products back then are not the same as they are now.
Big tobacco companies know their product and its risks, so they try and lessen the blow by enticing new flavors or “low harm” products.

CDC reports that 7 out 10 children say to have seen ads about e-cigarettes which could influence them straight away. Parents should be aware and educate their children or teens to prepare them for tobacco products’ dangers. Another way to minimize the exposure to these types of messaging is to limit screen time to avoid seeing them! Lastly, parents setting good examples by eliminating or preventing the use of these products in yourselves can show how important these discussions are for your child.

False: E-cigarettes do not have nicotine.
E-cigarettes such as JUULs and vape pens may claim to be “harmless water vapor.” Keep in mind that e-juices with “fun flavors” usually contain nicotine. Other substances found in e-cigarettes are:

  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Flavors like diacetyl (linked to popcorn lung disease)
  • Nickel, tin, and lead
    Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can damage the liver, kidneys, and nervous system

Educate your teens!
Continued discussions about the importance of a healthy lifestyle by avoiding tobacco products could lead them to a healthy life! These are just some discussions that become very important to your growing teens. Educating them on the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarette usage is a start, but also reminding them to keep brushing their teeth twice a day and to floss daily. A vital part of overall oral health is having professional dental cleanings done twice a year and a comprehensive dental exam at least once. Developing good healthy habits and discussions at a young age will help them as they grow!