10 Feb The truth about vaping and your oral health
Written by Emily Smith — Oral Health Therapist.
Vaping is a relatively new trend among young adults and teens alike. While it may be considered a better option than smoking regular cigarettes, this is simply not the case.
Research is beginning to show the negative effects of vaping on oral health and general health. In many cases, it is shown to have similar effects as cigarettes — so while the term “vape” may seem like it is simply water vapour being inhaled, it’s actually heated oils, which can cause burning and scarring of the airways, as well as adhering to the surface of the lungs.
Some of these oils and chemicals can lead to a condition known as popcorn lung. This makes breathing difficult and the only cure is a lung transplant. This condition is similar to that caused by COVID-19 in some patients.
Vaping can be dangerous to your health in a number of ways. Read on to find out what’s really in your vape and the impact it can have on your oral health.
What’s really in your vape
The vape juice, or e-cigarette liquid, is filled with many chemicals, many of which remain unknown to the user. These can include:
- Propylene glycol: This chemical breaks down into various types of acids which are harmful to tooth enamel and toxic to soft tissues.
- Benzene: This chemical is used as a solvent in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, known to cause blood cancers and disorders.
- Formaldehyde: A possible carcinogen, formaldehyde poses risk for airway irritation and possible suffocation.
- Nicotene: A highly addictive substance which, when used by young people, can slow brain development and affect memory, concentration, learning, self-control, attention, and mood. In adults, it can increase the risk of other types of addiction.
How vaping can increase the risk of gum disease
The risk of gum disease increases significantly in people who use e-cigarettes. About 43% of people who vape have gum disease, compared to 28% of those who don’t vape. Gum disease not only increases the chance of losing teeth as there is less bony support for them — it’s also closely related to heart disease.
Gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of stroke, as well as worsening blood pressure and interfering with the medications used to treat blood pressure.
Vaping, similar to cigarettes, can decrease blood flow to the gums and affect their ability to fight infection and heal.
How vaping can increase the risk of tooth decay
Many of the flavoured vape liquids contain sugar molecules like sucrose and dextrose. Bacteria in the mouth feed on these sugars and create an acid that causes tooth decay.
The risk is much higher if you vape multiple times during the day or for long periods.
Vaping also cultivates dry mouth, which means there is less saliva to protect the teeth from acid attacks and, again, increases the likelihood of developing tooth decay.
In reality, vaping is no better than smoking cigarettes for your health
We know that vaping can increase your risk for tooth decay and gum disease, but what other effects can vaping have on your oral health?
- Bad breath due to increased plaque accumulation and dry mouth
- The nicotine found in some vape juices can cause yellowing or staining of the teeth
- An imbalanced oral microbiome, creating an ideal environment for other infections such as oral thrush.
The more evidence we see, the more we learn that vaping is not, in fact, any better than smoking. Essentially, as vaping is a relatively new trend, everyone who use it is in the long-term effects.
Our recommendation is to avoid vaping and smoking altogether. If you are having difficulty quitting, we are here to help. If you need further assistance, you can contact your GP or the Quitline for advice.