Vaping vs Smoking: The Dental Overview

Health tips | 01 Dec 2021

Oral Health Condition Caused by SmokingCaused by Vaping
Tooth StainingYesYes (less than smoking)
Gum DiseaseYesYes
Oral CancerYesPotentially (need more research)
Tooth Grinding YesYes
Increased chance of cavitiesYes (to a small extent)Yes (to a large extent)
Bad Breath YesYes (less than smoking)

All the warnings you see about the dangers of smoking or vaping (the inhaling of electronic cigarettes) tend to focus on the potential dangers to the heart and lungs. What you don’t realise is that whatever you decide to smoke starts with putting harmful chemicals in your mouth. The damage that comes from these chemical ridden items has shown in many studies, they start to inflict damage right where they enter your body: your mouth.

Because e-cigarettes are quite a recent phenomenon, their technology has seen to amaze most people, their new flavours and upgrade from regular cigarettes have seemed to trick many people into thinking that these smoking alternatives are somehow better for you than traditional cigarettes, However, various research shows that there is a solid amount of evidence that shows the link between e-cigarettes and poor oral health.

Whether Nicotine is smoked or vaped, it restricts blood flow to the gums, which is a major contributor to periodontal (gum) disease. The tobacco in cigarettes has clear harmful effects on the body and the mouth however the fluid in e-cigarettes, can include propylene glycol, benzene, formaldehyde and other chemicals that only increases the risks of gum disease.

Recent studies show that 43% of people using e-cigarettes or vaping products had gum disease and oral infections that are often consistent.

The great thing about the oral cavity is that it is really resilient tissue, it heals a lot faster than other parts of the body. However, when you are smoking again and again, you are repeatedly traumatizing the tissue. That’s when you end up having oral issues that are irreversible. These issues range from tooth cavities and inflammation to periodontitis and sometimes oral cancer.

However, not enough time has passed since vaping became popular to assess the long-term dangers, unfortunately, everybody’s an experiment right now. But as qualified Dentists, the more vaping patients we have walk through the door, the clear it gets that the inside a vaper’s mouth clearly illustrates the dangers of vaping. 

Quick read: 

Vaping can have a detrimental impact on your overall health as well as a definite negative effect on your oral health. 

Vaping and e-cigarettes have been very popular, quite quickly that research hasn’t been able to catch up yet. Although not enough research has been done, vaping appears to have less oral health risks than smoking regular cigarettes. There is enough research to portray the long term negative effects vaping has as well as its side effects.

What does vaping do to your oral health, teeth and gums?

Current research suggests that there are various negative effects on both your teeth and gums, some of these effects include: 

Dry Mouth

Most e-cigarettes/ vaping products base liquids include propylene glycol which can cause mouth dryness. Chronic mouth dryness is associated with mouth sores, tooth decay and bad breath. 

Inflamed/ Sore gums 

There have been a few studies carried out that suggest that e-cigarette users trigger an inflammatory response in gum tissues. Ongoing gum inflammation and continuous gum disease and is also associated with continuous use of e-cig/ vaping products. 

Excess Bacteria in the Mouth 

Teeth that have been exposed to e-cigarette aerosol had a significant amount more bacteria than those that had not. The excess bacteria are heavily associated with tooth decay, gum diseases and cavities. 

Gum Disease and Vaping

Periodontal disease is normally an adult disease, and we’re now seeing it become more popular in younger people. Younger people normally have more saliva than they need, so when they present with dry mouth, periodontal disease (gum disease) or increased complaints of mouth ulcer.

There seems to be an increase of cavities in younger patients who vape, which may be due to the acidity of the components in vape liquid and an increase in cavity-causing bacteria.

It seems that the sweet flavourings in e-cigarettes are what has helped attract young adolescents to this harmful habit and also contributes to the high rate of nicotine dependence.

Does Vaping Cause Gum Disease?

One of the biggest ways that smoking damages your oral health is that you are very likely to develop gum disease. Vaping exposes your gums to both nicotine as well as hot and drying vapour which therefore, definitely puts users at a higher risk of gum disease. 

Additionally, the nicotine that is present in many vaping products masks the early warning signs of gum disease which usually includes the swelling and bleedings of the gums especially when you brush. This is particularly bad because it can make you think that your gums are healthy when they really are not. 

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