Vapes are all the rage in recent years, especially among youths and those who attempt to quit regular cigarettes. Many seem to believe that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking because the latter is known for causing fatal health hazards.
However, various ongoing studies have proven that the USB-looking e-cigarette too can cause serious health issues as vapers are essentially inhaling the vapour of a heated-up flavoured liquid – usually containing nicotine and other chemicals. Due to this, researchers have indicated that the components of a vape liquid can not only cause lung damage but also deteriorate your oral health.
In this article, we share how vaping affects your teeth, whether it is a safer alternative to smoking when it comes to your oral health, and how you can minimise its side effects.
Effects of vaping on your teeth
As mentioned, the mechanism of a vape essentially involves heating a flavoured liquid – usually nicotine and other chemicals – into vapour for a vaper to inhale. Although studies on the effects of vaping are still ongoing, much research in recent years suggests that the way in which a vape operates and its components can cause the following detrimental effects on your teeth and overall oral health:
Although there is no tobacco in vapes, many still contain nicotine. Some researchers say nicotine can indirectly stain your teeth as it sticks to the enamel, thus, creating a rougher surface that encourages plaque and grime buildup. This process eventually exacerbates the “darkening” of your teeth’s surface.
Excess of bacteria
The heat from vaping is found to create a favourable environment for harmful bacteria to make a home in your mouth, especially in the spaces between your teeth – the cavities and crevices. Consequently, the excess bacteria will lead to a host of oral health issues such as tooth decay, cavities, and gum diseases.
Dryness of mouth
The components of a vape liquid, particularly propylene glycol, appear to cause chronic mouth dryness. Consequently, a dry mouth leads to bad breath, mouth sores, and further tooth decay.
Contrary to popular belief, the flavoured liquids in vapes do not prevent bad breath – at least not in the long run. The nicotine found in vapes can increase your risk of getting prolonged bad breath, better known as halitosis. This is because nicotine is known to have a significant effect on your salivary flow. It reduces saliva production, thus increasing the presence of bacteria in the mouth, eventually leading to bad breath.
Vapes triggering an inflammatory response in gum tissues have been well-documented. This condition can be sore and irritating and also lead to many periodontal diseases that cause severe damage to the gums and jaw bones.
For those with existing gum diseases, the nicotine in vaping liquids can mask the usual symptoms of swollen and bleeding gums giving the resemblance that the condition has improved. Some studies also show that nicotine can reduce blood flow to the gums, depriving them of nutrients and oxygen – causing the gums to recede.
When inflammation increases in the body, research suggests that a certain level of DNA damage may occur. This speeds up cell ageing over time as the cells lose their power to divide and grow and eventually results in cell death. Consequently, the dying of cells in your body may contribute to several oral health problems, including tooth decay, bone loss, gum diseases, and bad breath.
Inhaling a heated vapour made out of chemicals and nicotine is bound to cause mouth and throat irritation. This can result in changes to the soft tissues in the mouth and damage to your teeth and gums, including tenderness, swelling, and redness in the gums, making them even more susceptible to infections.
Is vaping a safer alternative to regular cigarettes?
Generally, research suggests that vaping still poses fewer oral health risks compared to smoking regular cigarettes. However, it must be noted that vapes are fairly new compared to regular cigarettes – thus, their effects on oral health are still actively studied.
And although vapes do not contain tar – which is the most hazardous component in a regular cigarette – some of the chemicals found in vapes are known cancer-causing agents, such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein. Additionally, there are a plethora of devices and liquids being sold without proper testing and control.
These vapes and “vape juices” are also often labelled incorrectly and offer vapers the flexibility to change the liquid and how the device operates. These reasons are why it can be difficult to conclusively assess the effects of vaping on oral health. Hence, it is recommended that you should exercise great caution when vaping to prevent aggravating existing oral health problems or contributing to new ones.
Ways to reduce vaping side effects
Replacing one bad habit with another is generally not the best solution, so it is best to attempt to reduce both vaping and smoking for the benefit of your oral health. Nevertheless, if you do choose to vape, you should exercise great caution when doing so.
There are also a few steps you can take to minimise the effects of vaping on your oral health, such as:
- Use a nicotine-free “vape juice”.
- Keep yourself hydrated after vaping to prevent your mouth from drying.
- Practice proper oral hygiene consistently.
- Schedule regular check-ups and teeth whitening in Geelong.
Ultimately, you should keep doing your research on vapes and the effects of vaping on oral health to ensure you are updated with the current findings and are able to make sound decisions accordingly.
Seek professional advice
If you have turned to vaping and are experiencing any of the mentioned oral health problems such as inflamed gums, teeth discolouration, and chronic dry mouth, it is best to see your Geelong dentist as soon as possible to prevent your condition from worsening.
Whether you are experiencing any symptoms or not, you are encouraged to visit your dentist to have your mouth examined for infections and lesions and provide professional advice for all your vaping-related oral health concerns.
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