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Doctors say a vape pen exploded in teen’s mouth, knocking out teeth and shattering his jaw

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FDA head Scott Gottlieb, in an interview with USA TODAY’s Jayne O’Donnell, announces new regulations on how and where flavored vape juice can be sold.
USA TODAY

A medical journal article published this week reported an incident involving an e-cigarette explosion that sent a teenager to a trauma center. The electronic cigarette exploded in the teen’s mouth, knocking out several teeth, breaking his jaw and leaving a hole in his gums. 

The teen’s mother, Kailani Burton, said she heard a loud pop and saw her son, Austin Adams, run into the living room covering his mouth, according to the New York Times.

“He was bleeding really bad,” Ms. Burton said in an interview with the Times. “It looked like a hole in his chin.” 

They quickly rushed Adams to the hospital in Ely, Nevada but then realized that they needed treatment at a trauma center and drove 200 miles to Salt Lake City, the paper reported.

The incident took place in March 2018 but doctors who treated Adams in Salt Lake City documented the case in an article published by the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. Dr. Katie Russell, one of the doctors who treated Adams, said she and her colleague decided to publish the case to warn others about the dangers of vaping.

The explosion was “totally unexpected,” Dr. Russell told NBC News. “He didn’t recall doing anything wrong with the device beforehand and it just exploded.”

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According to the news network, Adams needed plates on his jawbones and temporary braces. He also had his gumline sewn together and his jaw wired shut for six weeks, which meant he could only have liquids. Since then, he has fully recovered from his injuries.

Adams, then 17-years-old, bought the vape kit from the company VGOD to quit smoking, NBC News reported. VGOD sells e-cigarette and vape pen devices along with accessories and apparel. The company did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

A string of incidents involving electronic cigarettes has put the devices on center stage once again. In May 2018, a vape pen exploded in a man’s mouth requiring him to get 65 stitches on his face. The explosion also splashed the 25-year-old with battery acid, causing chemical or heat burns to his left hand, face, mouth and tongue, a suit filed against three companies alleges.

The FDA says on their website causes of vape pen explosions aren’t clear yet but evidence points to battery-related issues.

Cities, such as San Francisco, are beginning to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes. The city’s supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to ban manufacturing and all sales of electronic cigarettes. The measure will require a subsequent vote before becoming law.

“We spent the ’90s battling big tobacco, and now we see its new form in e-cigarettes,” Supervisor Shamann Walton said.

Although terrifying, NBC News said the incident had one positive outcome. Adams was able to quit smoking for good.

Contributing: Daniel Connolly, Memphis Commercial Appeal; The Associated Press

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