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Feb 18

E-Cigarettes: Effects of Vaping on Your Oral Health

e-cigaretteWith the popularity of e-cigarettes or “vaping” picking up plenty of steam, it’s about time we look at the effects it has on your teeth and overall oral health. With seemingly everything becoming digitalized, cigarette smoking is no exception. Vaping is the modern day version of smoking, where old fashion tobacco burning smoke is now replaced with a breath of steam or water vapor. But is it better? There is evidence that it is better for your health, but what about your oral health?

How Vaping Works

Similar to traditional cigarettes, vaping also delivers nicotine to the user. However, where they differ is in the delivery. Vaping delivers nicotine via a steam or a vapor rather than by combustion in which tobacco is ignited by fire, as compared to traditional cigarettes. This combustion process also produces other unwanted and harmful chemicals that are released in the smoke. Because vaping doesn’t use tobacco, many of the harmful and irritating substances typically released as byproducts in the smoke are not present in the smokeless vapor. This is one of the primary reasons smokers have turned to vaping as an alternative mean to satisfy their nicotine urge. This is not to say that there aren’t any health concerns associated with vaping. Extensive studies are currently being conducted and only time will tell as to whether there are any health concerns connected to vaping.

Oral Health – Vaping vs Smoking

In this blog, we will focus primarily on whether or not vaping has a negative effect on your oral health. We will do so by speculating what the potential impacts of vaping could be relative to the impacts we already know that traditional cigarette smoking can cause.

We begin by looking at some of the effects of cigarette smoking on your oral health and the likely reason for their specific causes. Then, we will compare whether vaping or e-cigarette smoking is either worse than, better than, or equal to traditional cigarette smoking.

Stained Teeth

Cigarette Smoking: The tobacco in cigarettes is the main cause of teeth staining. The staining is similar to what you would get from drinking tea. Long-term use will permanently leave a yellowish stain on your teeth that will require expensive treatment to fix.

E-Cigarette Vaping: E-cigs do not contain any tobacco product. Vaping comprises of an electronic igniter and a liquid cartridge that contains nicotine and other flavors that is delivered to the user in the form of a steam. Depending on the type of gels or flavored cartridges used, staining of teeth may occur. But the lack of tobacco makes it a better option relative to staining of your teeth.

Risk of Acquiring Oral Cancer

Cigarette Smoking: The use of tobacco products, whether from chewing tobacco or cigarette smoking, has been proven to increase the risk of acquiring oral cancer. Oral cancer affects all parts of the mouth, including the gums, cheeks, throat, and tongue.

E-Cigarette Vaping: As of this writing, there hasn’t been any data that links vaping to oral cancer. However, what we do know is that vaping does not contain tobacco products, a key component linked to oral cancer. By comparison, vaping makes for a better choice compared to traditional cigarette smoking.

Periodontal or Gum Disease

Cigarette Smoking: Smoking doesn’t necessarily cause gum disease, instead it masks the detection of it. This is because of the nicotine in cigarettes. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which means it limits the blood flow in your tissue. Gum disease is typically detected by bleeding gums. Therefore, with excessive nicotine intake, your gums may not bleed when they normally would. This can delay the detection of any gum infection or issues, and subsequently lead to severe periodontal disease, bone loss, and ultimately loss of teeth.

E-Cigarette Vaping: Similar to smoking, vaping also delivers nicotine to the user. The nicotine in vapes behaves in the same manner as the ones in cigarettes when it comes to masking periodontal or gum disease. Gum disease is a serious threat to tooth loss if left untreated. Early treatment can help stabilize the gum condition and prevent further problems. By comparison, vaping is equal to smoking with regards to the masking of gum disease.

Bad Breath

Cigarette Smoking: In general, smoking reduces saliva flow leaving the user with a feeling of dry mouth. The lack of saliva flow and proper hydration in your mouth is a cause of bad breath. Additionally, the burning compounds from tobacco can remain and linger in your mouth and lungs causing unpleasant odors.

E-Cigarette Vaping: By comparison, e-cigs do not contain tobacco. This alone makes it a less likely source of causing bad breath compared to traditional cigarettes and is a better alternative when it comes to avoiding bad breath.

Conclusion

We conclude by saying that when it comes to your oral health, vaping is essentially a better alternative compared to traditional cigarette smoking. However, with the known presence of nicotine in e-cigarettes, and the lack of data available regarding the long term health risks of vaping, we recommend that vaping should simply be avoided if possible.

 
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Written by Dr. Kim H. Nguyen
Dr. Kim Nguyen

Owner of Mint Dental OC and is a leading dentist in Southern California.

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