As school year begins, CDC and ADA remind youth of health dangers of smoking

As students and families dig into a new school year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a reminder of the dangers of smoking, which includes oral health problems.

E-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to data published by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products.

E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are small refillable devices that look like cigarettes and use battery power to vaporize nicotine solutions so they can be inhaled.

The CDC warns that nicotine exposure at a young age—even into young adulthood—may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction and lead to continued tobacco use.

Traditional cigarettes also remain a health threat to adolescents. Tobacco use is started and established primarily during this time in a person's life, according to the CDC.

"Nearly 9 out of 10 adult smokers first try cigarettes by age 18, while 96 percent first try cigarettes by 21. If your child is using tobacco, get support to help him or her quit right away. Youth use of tobacco in any form is unsafe, and preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to helping them live long and healthy lives," said Brian King, acting deputy director for Research Translation at CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.

Among other significant health problems, cigarettes and chewing tobacco can lead to stained teeth and tongue, a dulled sense of taste and small, slow healing after a tooth extraction or other surgery, difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems, gum disease and oral cancer, according to the American Dental Association's consumer website, MouthHealthy.org

Quitting is the only way to decrease your risk of tobacco-related health problems.

For more information about smoking, tobacco and oral health, visit MouthHealthy.org.

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