If you are in touch with the news, you have probably heard about the new smoking craze called vaping or Juuling. While we all know that smoking cigarettes causes irreparable health damage, do electronic nicotine delivery systems or electronic cigarettes cause as much damage to your dental health as traditional tobacco products?
Vaping works by using a battery-operated heating component to turn an e-liquid into an inhalable aerosol. Containing chemicals, flavoring, and, occasionally, nicotine, e-cigarettes are believed to cause respiratory issues and cancer. Also linked to oral health problems, e-cigarettes can stain your teeth, weaken your gums, and cause tooth decay. If vaping is your new nicotine habit, keep reading to discover the consequences on your overall health and how to maintain a healthy smile.
The Oral Health Effects of Vaping
With the increasing popularity of vaping, dentists have reported a rise in tooth decay and enamel erosion. Unfortunately, people who smoked cigarettes and switched to vaping are not experiencing any healthier results. In fact, vaping may be equally if not more detrimental to your health than smoking. When it comes to oral health, vaping has several long-term detrimental effects, such as:
- Permanent gum damage;
- Tooth loss;
- Enamel wear and soft tissue damage;
- Yellow teeth;
- Gum disease;
- Bad breath;
- Reduced oxygen and blood flow.
While vaping can stain your teeth, its other symptoms are generally much worse. If any of your vaping side effects become unbearable, be sure to contact a health care provider to prevent irreparable damage.
#1: Does Vaping Stain Teeth?
Both conventional cigarettes and electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, which causes yellow teeth. While its concentration within e-cigarettes is considerably lower, it is still enough to cause tooth discoloration and gum damage. Nicotine is known to stain teeth yellow and can eventually cause them to fall out.
#2: Vaping Allows the Proliferation of Excess Bacteria
According to a study conducted in 2018, teeth exposed to electronic cigarette aerosol have more bacteria, particularly in their pits and crevices. Such excess bacteria causes the following oral health problems:
- Discolored teeth;
- Tooth decay;
- Gum disease.
It is alleged that certain ingredients such as vegetable glycerin and flavorings contained in e-liquid cause bacterial buildup, making your teeth susceptible to diseases and decay.
#3: You Will Experience Dry Mouth
Certain types of e-cigarette base liquids, such as propylene glycol, can cause dry mouth. These liquids irritate soft tissue and cause mouth dryness by breaking down into acids that damage enamel. If it becomes consistent and long-lasting, dry mouth can lead to bad breath, mouth sores, cavities, and decay. Not to mention, it is quite an uncomfortable condition in and of itself.
#4: Reduced Oxygen and Blood Flow
While vaping devices typically release a lower concentration of nicotine when compared to smoking, the amount of nicotine found in e-cigarettes can still cause gum tissue failure and disease. By affecting the blood flow to the gum tissue, nicotine decreases tissue turnover, impacting overall health and cell function. Once the gums are damaged, it becomes increasingly probable that gum disease will develop or tooth decay will occur.
Nicotine content is also linked to restricted flow of blood vessels in the gums, affecting the mouth’s natural ability to fight infection and replenish connective tissue. A 2016 study suggested that e-cigarettes trigger an inflammatory response in gum tissues. With long-lasting gum inflammation, the risk of various periodontal diseases also increases.
#5: Tooth Decay
Propylene glycol, an ingredient in certain vape juice, takes away essential saliva and causes dry mouth. Without saliva to protect the teeth from the damaging bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, the teeth will begin to decay.
Furthermore, common e-cigarette users like teenagers are likely to try to ease their dry mouth by drinking sugary liquids such as soda or energy drinks. The sugar in these drinks amplifies the damage caused by propylene glycol by feeding the bacteria and acids that further erode tooth enamel.
Do Different Vaping Devices Affect Our Teeth in Different Ways?
You may be wondering if all vaping products affect your teeth in the same way. The short answer is yes, every vaping device affects your teeth in a pretty similar fashion.
For example, Juuling is a smaller, more inconspicuous type of electronic cigarette designed by a specific vape brand. Also containing nicotine, Juuling e-liquid results in the same unsavory effects as vaping other e-cigarettes.
However, there have been a few studies to suggest that e-cigarette flavorings may have an impact on how vaping affects our teeth. In a 2014 in vivo study, researchers discovered that most e-juice flavors reduce the number of healthy cells found in connective mouth tissues. Of all the flavors tested, menthol was the most damaging to oral cells.
Another 2018 study suggested that flavored e-cigarette aerosol has similar properties to high-sucrose candy and drinks, increasing the risk of cavities. Vegetable glycerine is one such ingredient used to sweeten flavorings. However, it also causes four times as many microbes to stick to teeth and double the growth of biofilm. It also softens the tooth enamel by 27%, allowing leeway for rampant decay, gum infections, and loosened teeth.
It is important to note that vaping is a relatively young and unstudied alternative to any traditional tobacco product. As such, researchers have not had years to study the effects or properties of e-cigarettes. Studies such as the ones above are to be taken with a grain of salt until further years of research can be conducted.
Which Substances Cause Havoc on Your Teeth?
Unfortunately, it is relatively difficult to know what addictive chemical is in your e-cigarette fluid. While manufacturers are forced by law to submit a list of ingredients to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many do not list their ingredients on their packaging or websites. That being said, there are three known e-liquid ingredients to avoid due to their negative side effects on oral health. If possible, avoid:
- Propylene glycol;
Additionally, flavored e-liquid has been linked to more gum inflammation than non-flavored alternatives. By limiting or eliminating these ingredients, you may be able to reduce your overall risk for nasty side effects.
Is Vaping As Harmful for Your Teeth As Traditional Cigarettes?
Researchers will need a couple more years of collecting evidence to make a conclusive statement regarding the effect of vaping versus smoking traditional cigarettes. However, thus far, we do know that vaping is not risk-free.
That being said, vaping does not contain tar, and it does not have to contain nicotine. Without these two tooth discoloration and gum disease-causing elements, only time will tell if vaping is truly safer than smoking cigarettes. Despite the inconclusive evidence, dental experts feel confident that patients who vape need to be excessively diligent about their dental health by maintaining regular dental examinations and oral health care routines.
How to Minimize the Adverse Effects of Vaping
While there is no true way to minimize the harmful effects of long-term vaping, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of certain side effects. If you vape, it is more important than ever to take proper care of your oral health:
- First, limit your intake of nicotine. Vape only low-nicotine or nicotine-free juices to limit its negative effects on your teeth and gums.
- Second, drink water after you vape. Rehydrating after each vape can help you avoid mouth dryness and bad breath.
- Third, brush your teeth twice a day. Removing plaque through brushing can help prevent cavities and promote overall healthy gums.
- Fourth, floss before bed to further remove plaque and promote gum health.
- Fifth, visit a dentist regularly. If possible, make a dental appointment every six months for a cleaning and consultation. Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule will promote early detection and treatment of any underlying conditions.
When is It Time to Seek Medical Help?
Certain symptoms highlight an underlying dental health condition. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact a dentist or other oral healthcare provider as soon as possible:
- Bleeding or inflamed gums;
- Changes in sensitivity to temperature;
- Frequent mouth dryness;
- Loose teeth;
- Mouth ulcers or sores that do not seem to heal;
- Toothache or mouth pain;
- Receding gums.
If any of the above symptoms occur alongside a fever or swelling in your face or neck, seek emergency medical treatment.
SEEK ORTHODONTIC HELP AT LOUDOUN ORTHODONTICS!
Contact Loudoun Orthodontics if you are ready to learn more about vaping and its effect on your overall oral health. Whether you want to learn more about the side effects of using e-cigarettes or have any questions about the process of achieving excellent oral health, use our live chat or call (703) 858-0303 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today to book a free consultation! Our office, located at 19465 Deerfield Ave, Suite 304, Leesburg, VA 20176, proudly serves not just Loudoun County but also the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Purcellville, Broadlands, or Brambleton, and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in VA, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health as well as follow us on social media to become a part of our smiling community!