When e-cigarettes were introduced in 2008, many people thought that they provided a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes. Today, despite evidence to the contrary, individuals continue to use e-cigarettes and other forms of vaping and often believe that they are causing less harm to their bodies than if they smoked cigarettes.
While vaping in the form of e-cigarettes, JUULs, the vape pen, or other devices uses a different method than cigarettes (heating up a liquid that is then inhaled rather than burning the tip of the cigarette containing the desired chemicals), it can still cause significant damage to your health.
The chemicals used in the creation of e-juices are largely unregulated. And with vaping being relatively new on the market, there are not enough scientific studies being done on the long-term consequences of vaping on the body.
Besides the severe impact seen recently involving vape-related illnesses and deaths, vaping has been proven to specifically damage your oral health. Here is a look at some of the most significant ways that vaping can have an impact on your mouth and teeth.
Vaping introduces a number of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals into the body. Not the least of these is nicotine. Some vaping flavor cartridges contain the equivalent of 1-3 packs of cigarettes. Heavy vape users, particularly those who believe that vaping is less dangerous than smoking cigarettes and who therefore vape more often, can use a cartridge in a single day.
Nicotine, when it enters the mouth, has a number of effects on the soft tissue there. The chemicals in the vapor, including nicotine, absorb into the gums as they are inhaled. Once there, they irritate the gums. As a result, the gum swells and becomes red and inflamed. Over time, this irritation can lead to gum disease.
Swollen, tender, bleeding gums and chronic bad breath are signs that periodontal disease has set in. We often see these symptoms in patients who vape. Some studies have shown that the rates of periodontal disease among vapers is about the same as among those who smoke.
In addition to periodontal disease, vaping can contribute to tooth decay. It does so in a number of ways.
Introduction of Bacteria
First, vaping introduces significant amounts of bacteria into the mouth. Studies have shown that individuals who vape have much more bacteria in their mouths than do people who do not vape. These bacteria can eat away at the enamel of the teeth, leading to decay.
Chronic Dry Mouth
The nicotine in the vapor can cause dry mouth. Chronic dry mouth is known
to contribute to the development of cavities and tooth decay. In particular, dry mouth can cause plaque buildup and bacterial buildup. Tooth decay can be exacerbated when vapers increase their intake of sugary drinks to compensate for the dryness in their mouths.
Propylene glycol is a central ingredient of the liquid found in many vaping devices. While considered safe to ingest, it creates problems when converted into a vapor. In particular, the chemical components it breaks down into can wear out the enamel of the teeth and even break down soft tissue like the gums.
When considered together, these elements impact the teeth and lead to the breakdown of enamel and encourage the development of cavities.
Periodontal disease and tooth decay are not the only oral health risks associated with vaping. Individuals can also lose teeth because of this practice.
Receding gums are often associated with vaping because nicotine reduces blood flow to the gums. As a result, the gums begin to die off. If the gums deteriorate too much, they can cause tooth loss. The teeth fall out or require removal in order to deal with the gum disease properly.
In addition, the tooth decay caused by vaping can be quite severe and compound the effects of a receding gum line. The combination of periodontal and gum disease and tooth decay has led to significant tooth damage and loss in many patients.
Other oral health problems can arise from vaping as well. These impacts are not as severe, or as proven, as gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss. They can, however, negatively impact your overall oral health.
Bacteria, inflammation, and periodontal disease can all cause bad breath. Since vaping contributes to these issues, it can also contribute to halitosis that can be unpleasant and embarrassing for the sufferer.
Since nicotine can act as a muscle stimulant, it can cause or worsen grinding of the teeth. This grinding can lead to other health problems, like earaches and headaches, as well as jaw problems.
To date, there is no definitive proof that vaping causes oral cancer. However, one study found that people who engaged in vaping demonstrated the same changes in the molecular structure of the soft tissues of their mouths as do those who smoke cigarettes.
Vaping negatively impacts oral and overall health. The chemicals it releases can create gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and more. These health impacts can require oral surgery or other interventions. They can necessitate tooth removal and negatively impact a patient’s quality of life.
If you do find your oral health suffering because of vaping, or any other reason, reach out to Heart of Texas Oral Surgery. We can help you deal with a wide range of oral health issues, provide you with any dental surgery necessary, and assist you in restoring a healthy, happy smile.