While cigarette smoking is declining, vaping is rising, especially among teenagers and young adults. However, vaping still involves a heating element and nicotine. The side effects and health risks of vaping have not been studied long term. But what we know so far is that vaping is just as bad, if not worse, than regular cigarette smoking. We’re going to look at some of the known and documented health risks of vaping, specifically related to oral health. But first …
What is vaping?
Vaping involves any type of electronic nicotine delivery system. This could be an electronic-cigarette, hookah pen or vape pen. The ingredients typically include: propylene, glycol, gylcerin, nicotine, flavors, toxicants, carcinogens, heavy metals and metal nanoparticles. The electric component uses heat to convert the liquid ingredients to an aerosol which is what is inhaled into the lungs. No vaping device has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does place regulations on the devices.
Negative Effects On Teeth and Gums
- Dry Mouth — The ingredients propylene, glycol and nicotine all cause dry mouth. When saliva is lacking, decay and gum disease like gingivitis will increase. Bad breath is also a result of a dry mouth.
- Throat Irritation — Studies has shown irritation to the tonsils and throat because of the vapors. It is not uncommon for people who vape to feel like they have a chronic sore throat.
- Gum Inflammation — Redness, swelling and inflammation increase with vaping. Even with excellent oral hygiene, the gums of patients who vape get irritated because of the nicotine and carcinogens.
- Increased Oral Bacteria — When vaping, there is an increase in heat in the mouth. This causes the saliva pH to lower, becoming more acidic. Bad bacteria rises when the pH is more acidic. Bacteria that cause periodontal disease and bone loss thrive in an acidic environment.
- Staining — Nicotine and the heat from vaping can cause the teeth to demineralize and stain. Just like regular cigarette smoking, those who vape will have yellowish brown stains on their teeth.
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It is estimated that one in five high school students are now using some kind of tobacco product – most notably, there has been fairly substantial growth in the number of teens using vape products.⠀ ⠀ When compared to smoking, vaping can be just as dangerous, if not more so…⠀ ⠀ Of course, one danger associated with e-cigarettes has to do with nicotine. Although the percentage of nicotine is much lower (0.3%–1.8%) than traditional tobacco products, one electronic cartridge (200–400 puffs) can equal the smoking of two to three packs of regular cigarettes. The dangerous effects of nicotine on gum tissue are well known, and are elaborated on in the article below. ⠀ Some other dangers include the lithium batteries of vapes overheating and exploding causing irreparable tissue damage, and e-liquid that allows more cavity causing bacteria to stick to softer teeth leading to rampant decay.⠀ ⠀ Although vaping is advertised as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, there is little research available on the long term effects of them because they are such a new product. Additionally, the flavorings are appealing to younger generations, even those who had no intention to start smoking cigarettes. ⠀ ⠀ The bottom line is that neither smoking, nor vaping is good for your oral health… and discontinuing use of either is the best option.⠀ ⠀ Read more about the effects of vaping here: https://www.perioimplantadvisory.com/articles/2019/01/vaping-and-oral-health-it-s-worse-than-you-think.html
Even though much research still needs to be done, we do know that vaping is not a safer alternative to traditional cigarette smoking. Time will only reveal more oral problems and systemic health issues. If you need help quitting smoking or vaping please let your dentist, hygienist or assistant know when you are in the office. We can suggest tips and point you in the right direction to take control of your health.