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Erosive potential of commonly available vapes: a cause for concern?

Abstract

Objectives Relatively little is known about the erosive potential of vape products, an important consideration for dental health. This study analysed flavoured vapes with potentially low pH, including fruit and drink flavours.

Methods The pH of 45 purposefully selected vapes was measured undiluted in triplicate. Serial dilution was conducted on the most erosive product to investigate if/when the erosive potential pH of 5.5 was reached. One of the most erosive samples was tested, undiluted and diluted, after four months of opening. Content analysis of the vape labels determined ingredients, place of manufacture, product usage instructions and health warnings.

Results Eighty-four percent of undiluted vape samples had a pH below 5.5. Erosive potential was not predicted by the flavour, with orange and cola samples higher than anticipated (pH 3.56-6.23 and 5.04-5.63, respectively). Products that were predicted to be non-acidic such as vanilla showed considerable variation ranging from pH 4.69-5.63. Freshly opened or stored samples did not reach a non-erosive potential pH of 5.5 or above, even when diluted to represent concentrations used when vaped. Labels were not detailed enough to ascertain which ingredients were contributing to acidity or buffering capacity or to allow consumers to identify the least harmful products in terms of oral health.

Conclusions Present labelling of commercially available vapes does not allow consumers to ascertain the erosive potential and possible dental damage that may be inflicted by their use. More effective labelling and/or health warnings are required to educate consumers and dental health professionals on these products.

Key points

  • A large number of vapes available in the UK are potentially erosive.

  • Erosive potential cannot be predicted by name or flavour.

  • Erosive potential persists even at levels far lower than vapes are inhaled at.

  • Present labelling of vapes does not allow consumers to select non-erosive products.

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Correspondence to Ruth Fairchild.

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Fairchild, R., Setarehnejad, A. Erosive potential of commonly available vapes: a cause for concern?. Br Dent J 231, 487–491 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-021-3563-1

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