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We’ve all heard it: I vape because it’s safer, and it helps me avoid smoking. We all know cigarette smoking is bad for our oral and overall health. But what about vaping? In some circles, vaping is presented as a safer alternative to smoking for adults who want to quit. But our perception is changing as we see vaping rising among teens and young adults who have never smoked. We now know that vaping may not be a safer alternative for oral health.
Vaping and Oral Health: The Bacteria Factor
As family dentists, helping patients fight harmful bacteria is our superpower. We talk about avoiding sodas and sugary treats. Now, vapes are firmly on the no-no list. A 2020 NYU study showed that vapes cause deposits of harmful bacteria in your mouth that can promote gum disease and tooth decay. Bacteria levels in vape users’ saliva were almost the same as in smokers.
How Do E-Cigarettes Hurt My Teeth and Gums?
E-cigarettes use a battery to heat liquid containing nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. This creates an aerosol that vapers inhale. Your teeth and gums are in the line of fire as you breathe in vape aerosol. Vape aerosol contains Propylene Glycol (PG), a colorless liquid with chemicals toxic to enamel and gum tissue. The flavorings in vapes can also cause problems for oral health. The “fun”, fruity and sweet flavors that attract younger users contain sugary ingredients that hurt your teeth. A 2018 study showed that aerosols from sweet flavors quadruple the levels of microbes sticking to tooth enamel. Vapes also contain nicotine, which can restrict blood flow to the gums and decrease immunity.
What Oral Health Problems Are Linked to Vaping?
Cavities: a 2022 Tufts University study found an increased risk of dental cavities in people who vape. Vaping reduces saliva and increases harmful bacteria in your mouth. Many vapes contain sugary flavors that increase the risk of tooth decay. Finally, when vapers try to quench their e-cigarette thirst with sugary drinks, it can cause worse oral health problems.
Gum disease: increased oral bacteria harm your “oral microbiome,” the balance of bacteria in your mouth. Those bad bacteria have been linked to gum disease. Nicotine can also contribute to gum disease by limiting blood flow to your gums and lowering your body’s immunity and ability to fight infection.
Oral cancer: the link between traditional cigarettes and oral cancer is clear. Researchers are still studying potential links between vaping and oral cancer. However, we know that formaldehyde, nicotine and other e-cigarette ingredients cause DNA and cell damage.
Does Vaping Cause Bad Breath?
The short answer is yes. Healthy saliva levels are essential for fresh breath. Saliva is your body’s very own mouth rinse. Unfortunately, dry mouth is a common side effect of vaping. Propylene Glycol removes water molecules in your saliva and mouth tissue. Ingredients in e-cigarettes, including PG, can cause dry mouth and lead to bad breath.
Can My Family Dentist Help Me Quit Vaping?
Many of us have heard that vaping is safer than smoking. But when it comes to oral health, new research suggests that vaping isn’t really a healthier option. The good news is that your family dentist can help with effective smoking cessation tools that won’t hurt your oral and overall health.
At Hall Family Dentistry, we’ve seen firsthand how vaping can damage oral health. Our team can help you kick the habit with proven tools, including patches and gum. We firmly believe that embarrassment or self-consciousness about smoking or e-cigarettes should never keep you out of the dentist’s chair. Our office is always a judgment-free zone. So don’t avoid checkups, even if you’re still an e-cigarette user. We’re always ready to have the conversation whether you’re ready–or not quite ready–to stop. Let’s talk and find mouth-healthy solutions that will work for you.