It’s not up for debate: Smoking is bad for your teeth.
But what about vaping?
The popularity of vaping has skyrocketed since it entered the North American market around 2007.
Studies show that in Canada, vaping is more popular among youth than older adults. In 2021, 17% of young adults reported vaping in the 30 days before the survey. 13% of those aged 15-19 reported vaping. Only 4% of adults 25 and older claimed to vape.
But not many people know how harmful vaping can be to your teeth. People think that because it’s not smoke, it must not be that bad.
The data is in, and it says otherwise.
At Dental House, we’re taking a closer look at the effects of vaping on your teeth. You won’t find any propaganda or sensationalist headlines here; we’re looking at the facts to find out exactly what kind of harm it causes.
Let’s go over all the evidence currently available to find out how vaping affects your oral health:
How Does Vaping Affect Your Teeth, Gums, and Mouth?
The effects of vaping on other parts of your body are still under research, but when it comes to your oral health, a few things are certain. Overall, here’s how vaping affects your oral health:
There are so many flavours of vape juices on the market these days—blue raspberry, strawberry kiwi, and green apple, to name a few. Most of these flavours are pretty sweet. And just like candy, sweet flavours increase the bacteria in your mouth. Studies are finding that the sweet vapour can coat teeth with a layer of sugary, sticky film that promotes bacterial growth.
As you might guess, more bacteria = more cavities. This is especially true when plaque builds up in the hard-to-reach spots of your teeth, like the pits in your molars.
There’s a reason why your mouth produces saliva all day long—it prevents mouth dryness which is important to good oral health! When your mouth is dry, plaque builds up on your teeth, leading to a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Dry mouth is associated with vaping. Dry mouth is one of the most common symptoms reported by e-cigarette users, which may be caused by the propylene glycol. PG, a chemical found in vape juice, reduces saliva production. The lower level of saliva allows bacterial growth and increases your risk of getting cavities.
You know that vaping creates more plaque in your mouth and less saliva. The heat from the vape device can make your gums recede, exposing the roots of your teeth.
All of these conditions make it more likely that you’ll develop periodontal disease, an infection of the tissues and bones surrounding your teeth.
The effects of gum disease can be severe and may lead to the loss of your teeth. If you spot any early signs of it (gum inflammation, bad breath, and receding gums), it’s important to talk to your dentist ASAP.
Mouth and throat irritation
The vapour produced by electronic cigarettes can trigger your body’s inflammatory response. After vaping, many people report that their gums and throats become inflamed. Other symptoms include swelling and redness.
Vaping-related cell death
When your mouth fills with vapour, it exposes your teeth and gums to a variety of chemicals. The vaping aerosols produced by e-cigarettes damage the delicate tissues in your mouth. This can cause cell death.
How does cell death affect your oral health? You may be more likely to develop issues such as bad breath, tooth decay, bone loss, tooth loss, and periodontal disease.
Vaping Compared to Smoking
So far, we’ve determined that vaping has a measurably negative impact on your oral health. Now, you may be wondering how the oral health issues caused by vaping measure up to smoking cigarettes.
It’s too soon to say which of the two is “better” for you—since vaping is relatively new, most of the research is preliminary.
Below, we’ve gathered what we know so far:
Vaping-related health issues
We may not know how vaping affects our health long term, but we can already see its short-term effects. These include:
- Vaper’s tongue. Some e-cigarette users notice that over time, they lose their sense of taste. This is potentially from the chronic mouth dryness and damage to taste buds that vaping causes. Luckily, this side effect is only temporary and should go away after you quit vaping for a couple of weeks.
- Exposure to harmful chemicals. The idea of inhaling water vapour sounds harmless. But when you use an electronic cigarette, the vapour it produces is full of harmful additives, which may include nicotine, heavy metals, and carcinogenic chemicals.
- Reliance on nicotine. Even though many turn to vaping as a way to quit smoking cigarettes, it leads to another problem: An addiction to vaping. Since electronic cigarettes come with problems of their own, it’s best to kick the habit altogether.
Smoking-related health issues
There’s no doubt about it: Traditional cigarettes have negative effects on your overall health, including your teeth and gums. When you smoke, you’re at a greater risk for the following:
- Periodontal disease. Smoke makes more plaque form on your teeth, which then gets inside your gums and causes an infection.
- Tooth loss. This is a side effect of the late stages of gum disease. As gum tissues and bone break down, the structures that support your teeth wear away, leading to gum recession and eventually tooth loss.
- Oral cancer. Cigarette smoke contains many chemicals that are linked to the development of cancer. People who smoke have a 5-10x greater risk of developing mouth cancer.
Does Vape Juice-Type Matter for Your Oral Health?
By avoiding certain types of e-cigarettes, you can potentially lower your risk of experiencing some of the side effects we’ve listed above.
In general, e-liquids with flavours are worse for your oral health; they’re associated with gum inflammation. Stick to non-flavoured vape juice to reduce these side effects.
Nicotine is another harmful ingredient. It’s associated with teeth staining, dry mouth, and gum disease. Choose nicotine-free juices to lower your risk.
Ingredients To Avoid With Vaping
Try to steer clear of the following ingredients to avoid some of the oral health issues we’ve listed above:
- Menthol. You might think that because mint is a popular toothpaste flavour, that menthol is no big deal for your teeth. But it’s not the same thing! Menthol-flavoured E-cigarettes contain high amounts of pulegone, a carcinogenic chemical. Vape juices containing menthol have been shown to damage oral cells.
- Nicotine. Even though the long-term effects of vaping aren’t well-known yet, the effects of nicotine are well-documented. Nicotine is associated with more side effects than non-nicotine e-liquids. It constricts blood vessels and limits the blood flow in your mouth, reducing the nutrients and oxygen that are delivered to the soft tissue in your mouth.
- Propylene glycol. Also known as PG, this chemical creates vapour when users inhale from an e-cigarette. Propylene glycol causes dry mouth, which can put you at a higher risk for developing gum disease.
How You Can Prevent Oral Health Issues When You Vape?
You want to preserve your gum health; after all, you need your teeth for life! If you vape regularly, you can reduce your risk of the side effects we’ve detailed above by:
Rinsing your mouth with water after vaping
To prevent staining, take a sip of water and swish it around your mouth after you vape. In addition, drink water often! This will also help you stay hydrated.
Taking great care of your teeth
You know the drill: Brush your teeth at least twice a day to prevent plaque build-up. Be sure to floss before bed to get rid of food from hard-to-reach spots—this is essential for your gum health!
Seeing your dentist regularly
Keep your teeth clean by visiting your dentist often! Your dentist can monitor your gums, teeth, and overall oral health. If you start showing signs of gum disease, your dentist will be the first to know.
Cut out nicotine
Maybe you started vaping to cut back on smoking—but now you feel reliant on e-juices that contain nicotine. Try to gradually lower how much nicotine you consume, and your oral health will be better for it.
When To Book a Dentist Appointment
Concerned about how vaping may be affecting your teeth? Keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms:
- Mouth sores
- Gum inflammation
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Increased sensitivity
- Bleeding gums
If you notice these side effects, it’s time for a check-up asap! At Dental House, we can help you restore your oral health and prevent gum disease. Our restorative dentistry services include dental fillings, crowns, and bridges. To book your appointment, call Dental House today!