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Traumatic Facial Injuries Caused by E-Cigarette Explosions

Use of e-cigarettes can result in traumatic facial injuries, according to recent research.

E-Cigarette Explosions

Smokeless electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, may be less harmful than traditional cigarettes, as they contain fewer cancer-causing substances. However, what many smokers don’t know is that these devices can cause traumatic facial injuries.

E-cigarettes don’t require a flame, but they carry a risk of explosions and fires nevertheless.

According to a report published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (JOMS), reports of spontaneous e-cigarette explosions and fires have led to a U.S. Department of Transportation ban on the devices in checked baggage.

How E-Cigarettes Work

E-cigarettes have three main components: a rechargeable lithium battery, a replaceable cartridge and a vaporization chamber.

The battery provides power to the device. The cartridge contains a nicotine-based liquid made of propylene glycol, an FDA-approved food-safe additive, along with a flavoring such as tobacco, menthol or chocolate. The vaporization chamber includes electronic components that heat the liquid nicotine and turn it into a vapor.

To smoke an e-cigarette, the user simply draws on the device and the vaporization process is automatically triggered. Because these devices are smokeless, using one is commonly referred to as “vaping.”

Risk of Traumatic Facial Injuries with E-Cigarette Use

Is using an electronic cigarette safer than smoking the traditional variety?

This topic remains under debate in the scientific community. What can’t be argued, however, is that these devices have caught fire and exploded, causing serious facial injuries, trauma and scarring.

Take the case detailed in the JOMS article referenced above. An 18-year-old man suffered tooth fracture and tooth avulsion, along with oral lacerations and burns, when his e-cigarette exploded. The explosion occurred at the moment he activated the device. As a result, he lost several teeth and suffered severe facial trauma.

That is certainly not the only time an e-cigarette has been known to cause facial injuries. The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products says that 47 adverse events involving electronic cigarettes were documented between 2008 and 2012. Of these cases, eight were serious and one resulted in death due to the severe facial burns.

Treating Traumatic Facial Injuries

Facial trauma from an exploding electronic cigarette requires immediate attention, and in many cases, long-term treatment. Several oral or facial surgery procedures may be needed to restore the function of the mouth and the appearance of the face.

Teeth that are knocked out can be replaced with dental implants or a bridge. Bone graft surgery also could be necessary in the treatment of some facial trauma, and some patients may need corrective jaw surgery and facial reconstruction.

Because we care about the well-being of you and your family, the professional team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah urges you not to use tobacco in any form, including electronic devices.

If you would like additional information about this topic or any other issue related to oral health and well-being, please contact our office. We look forward to answering any questions you may have about oral surgery or treatment for severe facial injuries.

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