We know tobacco use is one of the worst things you can do for your teeth. It causes staining and gum disease and is linked to oral cancer. We might think of vaping as a “safer” alternative to cigarettes. But the more we learn about electronic cigarettes, the more we understand their health risks. From mouth cancer to tooth decay, we now have a better picture of vaping’s harmful impact on oral health.
What Is Vaping?
E-cigarettes create an aerosol using a battery to heat a liquid containing nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals. The nickname “vape” comes from the vapor users inhale instead of smoke. The substances in e-cigarette aerosol are not only bad for your lungs, but they’re also bad for your teeth and gums. Vape liquid contains harmful ingredients, including:
- Nicotine is an addictive substance in both traditional tobacco products and e-cigarettes. It limits blood flow to your gums and damages your immune cells.
- Propylene Glycol (PG), is the colorless liquid found in vape juice. PG contains chemicals that can damage the soft tissue in your mouth. PG also pulls water molecules out of your saliva and oral tissue. This can lead to dry mouth, which contributes to tooth decay and gum disease.
- The chemical diacetyl gives vapes and snacks a buttery taste and is associated with the condition known as “popcorn lung.”
- Vitamin E Acetate is a thickening agent associated with lung damage.
- Other potentially dangerous ingredients include ultrafine particle pollutants, nitrosamines, other known carcinogens, and heavy metals.
How Is Vaping Bad for My Teeth?
One of the big selling points for e-cigarettes is the variety of sweet and fruity flavors. Because of those sweet flavorings, vape aerosols have similar properties to sugary candies and sodas. Vapes present the same problems as candy for our teeth. A 2018 study showed that sweet aerosols generated from e-liquids created four times the amount of microbes on tooth enamel. The study also showed that other chemicals in e-liquids contribute to the demineralization of tooth enamel. Finally, vaping can make you thirsty, and when you choose sodas or sugary energy drinks, it promotes tooth decay.
Does Vaping Have Other Oral Health Consequences?
Because the rise of vaping is more recent than traditional tobacco use, the dental and medical communities are still studying its health effects. However, we have enough research to confirm that vaping can significantly damage your oral health.
Research has established clear links between vaping and gum disease and tooth loss. A new study from the NYU School of Dentistry showed that vaping disrupts the balance of bacteria in users’ mouths. The study also showed that using e-cigarettes weakens the ligaments attaching the teeth to the gums. This phenomenon, known as clinical attachment loss, creates pockets between teeth and gums where bacteria breed. The study also found bacteria strains associated with gum disease in both vapers and smokers.
“Vaping appears to be driving unique patterns in bacteria and influencing the growth of some bacteria in a manner akin to cigarette smoking, but with its own profile and risks to oral health,” said Fangxi Xu, one of the study’s authors, in a report issued by NYU.
Research is ongoing about potential links between vaping and oral cancer. Several studies have shown that e-cigarette aerosols cause damage to cells, one of the warning signs of cancer.
Vaping and Mouth Injuries
E-cigarettes use a lithium battery to heat the vape liquid. Putting a tiny burner close to your mouth is risky since batteries can overheat and explode. Users have reported burns to the mouth.
Concerned About Vaping: Your Family Dentist Can Help
People often discuss vaping as a “safer” alternative to cigarettes and a tool for quitting smoking. However, there are better ways to quit. The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. Research shows that smokers who switch to vapes often use both vapes and traditional cigarettes. The flavors and electronic delivery system appeal to younger users who would not likely use conventional tobacco products. If you’re concerned about vaping for yourself or your child, there are better tools to help you quit. Your family dentist can help with prescriptions, product recommendations, and referrals, including:
- Talk therapy
At Greenhill Family Dental Care, we encourage patients to talk with us frankly about vaping and tobacco use. We can discuss the dental and oral health consequences. And we can help you find safe and effective products and therapies when you’re ready to quit.