Can vaping harm your teeth and gums like smoking cigarettes?

Vaping, or smoking e-cigarettes appears to be ‘cleaner’ than smoking old-fashioned cigarettes. You can also vape flavoured liquids that do not contain nicotine at all. However, early research on vaping shows why your dentist will not be recommending it as a healthier alternative for your teeth and gums any time soon. Here’s why vaping can harm your oral health.

The problem with vaping nicotine

Vape liquids (called ‘juices’) based on tobacco still contain the active ingredient of nicotine, inhaled via your mouth, and nicotine stains your teeth and affects gum health over time.

How does nicotine in vape juice hurt my teeth?

Nicotine lowers the supply of blood to your gums by constricting blood vessels, making gums much more vulnerable to infection than in non-smokers. This lower blood flow also masks the early warning signs of gum disease, leading users to mistakenly think their gums are healthy, while damage is being done.

Nicotine also reduces your immune function in general, making your gums more vulnerable to bacteria. The drying effects of nicotine and the hot vapour being inhaled further destroys one of your body’s natural tooth protection mechanisms: a moist mouth.

Grinding of teeh can be caused, or worsened by nicotine in vape smoke, as it acts as a stimulant. You can read more on how tooth grinding affects your oral health, and how to deal with it, in this post.

The problems associated with vaping low or no nicotine juices

Even if you choose low or zero nicotine vaping juices, there are other potential problems for the health of your teeth and gums. Flavoured vape juices, for instance, are high in sugars that cause tooth decay and gum disease.

One of the substances used to make vape juices, vegetable glycerin, has been shown to make the sugars in vape smoke bond more with tooth enamel, weakening it significantly, and to stick more easily to cracks and in pits in the gums between teeth. This greatly increases the chance of tooth cavities and gum disease.

Other ingredients associated with gum disease and tooth decay include the common juice base propylene glycol, which can cause mouth dryness. This leads to increased risk of dental cavities and gum inflammation. Propylene glycol has also been shown to break down into acids in your mouth, increasing chances of tooth decay through acid erosion.

All forms of vaping can lead to bad breath that does not necessarily go away with tooth brushing or mouth rinses.

The dangers of e-cigarette or vaping pen burns

Unfortunately, there have been reports of mouth burn and other oral soft tissue injuries caused by exploding vape pen or e cigarette batteries which have been poorly maintained. Please see our post on how to deal with a dental emergency.

Vaping is being heavily advertised to a younger generation, who are particularly attracted to the yummy flavours on offer. Sadly, this has reversed the downward trend in teen tobacco use and associated health risks. This is naturally of concern in their oral hygiene, as they are likely to be exposed to long-term vape usage which will damage their teeth and gums.

You can read our posts on how diet, drinking and smoking affect your oral health, and on how to maintain excellent oral hygiene here, as this becomes even more important if you smoke or vape.

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Marguerite MacRobert

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