Is Vaping Bad for Your Oral Health?Smoking and chewing tobacco have been long associated with oral cancer, gum disease, stained teeth and more. While electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices have been touted as an alternative way to smoke because they don’t contain tobacco, it does not necessarily mean vaping is a “better” option. Without tobacco, does vaping still affect your oral health in the same way?

Each vaping device has a heating component, battery, cartridge to hold the vaping liquid and mouthpiece. The aerosol that you inhale is made when the battery heats up the vaping liquid. The liquid contains flavorings, chemicals and nicotine. The mist and smoke produced by e-cigarettes is often mistaken for a harmless water vapor, which can lead people to believe it’s not as bad for their lungs or teeth. But this vapor still contains nicotine, which is bad for the teeth, as well as toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

Here are a few ways vaping is bad for your oral health:

  • Nicotine creates dry mouth – Nicotine reduces the amount of saliva in your mouth. This leads to plaque buildup, increased bacteria, and if left untreated, tooth decay and cavities. Another ingredient in e-cigarettes, propylene glycol, a liquid alcohol often used in food processing, causes dry mouth as well. Dry mouth also causes bad breath.
  • Nicotine reduces blood flow – Restricted blood flow to the gums and teeth can cause gum disease and death of gum tissue, which causes gum recession. Gum recession causes tooth sensitivity, increased risk of cavities particularly near the gum line and in severe cases loss of teeth.
  • Teeth grinding – Nicotine is a muscle stimulant, which can lead to grinding your teeth or making clenching or grinding worse if it’s a behavior you already do. Constant grinding of the teeth can lead to cracks in the teeth and decay.
  • Discoloration – Even though e-cigarettes don’t contain tar, which is the usual culprit behind tooth stains, nicotine is still a contributor to making your teeth yellow. Nicotine scrapes away at the enamel, making it easier for plaque and dark-colored beverages like coffee and wine to stain the teeth.
  • Bacteria build up – A study in PLoS One showed that teeth exposed to e-cigarettes and smoke that contains the ingredient vegetable glycerin carried four times more bacteria than teeth that weren’t exposed to vaping.

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated: “e-cigarettes have not been fully studied, so consumers currently don’t know the potential risks of e-cigarettes when used as intended, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use, or whether there are any benefits associated with using these products.”

Vaping is still a relatively new way to smoke, and more research needs to be done into long-term health effects on the body and the teeth. Make sure your dentist knows if you use a vaping device, so they can look for signs of gum recession and tooth decay. Current findings show that vaping is not much better for your oral health than smoking cigarettes.

If you’re located in the West Pensacola area and would like to speak to a dentist about the pros and cons regarding vaping, reach out to schedule a dental appointment!