You probably have heard about the dangers of smoking. Smoking cigarettes can lead to cancer, stroke, heart disease, lung disease and so forth. Moreover, this bad habit is directly related to a host of dental risks like bad breath, tooth discoloration, gum disease, oral cancer and more.
For these reasons, some smokers have turned to electronic cigarettes (or vapes) to consume tobacco. Many people deem e-cigarettes as a generally safer option since they emit fewer toxins than cigarette smoke does. However, this perception has also led to record-breaking numbers of young people who have never smoked before to begin vaping. E-cigarettes are now the most popular tobacco product among children and adolescents.
However, this habit is not without its dangers. For example, the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) states that e-cigarette use is unsafe for youth, young adults, pregnant adults and adults who do not currently use tobacco products. Additionally, many e-cigarettes contain nicotine and other harmful ingredients, which pose known health risks. These risks even translate to various oral health problems. Continue reading to learn more.
WHAT IS VAPING?
An e-cigarette is an electronic device that heats a liquid solution to a high temperature to create an aerosol that you inhale. These solutions often contain ingredients like nicotine, a flavoring and a humectant (like propylene glycol).
According to the CDC, some harmful ingredients often found in e-cigarette aerosol include:
- Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
- Flavorings like diacetyl, a chemical linked to a severe lung disease
- Volatile organic compounds
- Cancer-causing chemicals
- Heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead
WHY IS VAPING BAD FOR YOUR ORAL HEALTH?
There are several reasons why dentists do not encourage vaping. Here are four of the main ones.
One of the most common side effects of vaping is a dry mouth. Some humectants in e-cigarettes, like propylene glycol, for example, can cause mouth dryness. Mouth dryness can produce bad breath, mouth sores and even cause tooth decay.
Some e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a dangerous and addictive chemical. The American Heart Association states that nicotine, whether it is vaped or smoked, restricts blood flow to the gums, and therefore, causes an increased risk of gum disease. Other commonly occurring ingredients like propylene glycol, benzene and formaldehyde only heighten this grave risk.
If you previously read our blog, Dental Risks Associated with Smoking, you may recall that the tar and nicotine from cigarette smoke can cause tooth discoloration. Even though e-cigarettes do not contain tar, some still contain nicotine, which will stain your teeth.
While you probably associate sugary candies and acidic drinks with tooth problems, did you know that vaping can create excess bacteria in your mouth that can lead to tooth decay, cavities and gum disease? According to this 2018 study, the aerosol from e-cigarettes caused a four-fold increase in microbial (bacterial) adhesion to tooth enamel, especially in the pits and crevices of the teeth. Since many e-cigarette flavorings are sweet, the aerosols they produce also have comparable physical and chemical properties to high-sucrose, gelatinous candies and acidic drinks.
Furthermore, a 2020 study discovered that the oral microbes (bacteria) of people who used e-cigarettes looked and behaved similarly to those who smoked cigarettes. Changes to the bacteria in your mouth can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and different infections, some of which are associated with oral cancer.
TALK TO YOUR DENTIST ABOUT VAPING | THE LANDING DENTAL SPA
The best way to limit the oral and overall health risks of e-cigarettes is to avoid vaping altogether. With vaping growing in popularity, especially among young people, it is crucial to remember that there is still little known about the long-term side effects this habit will have. Moreover, there is a growing concern that these children will transition to smoking traditional cigarettes and using other tobacco products. So if you have kids, we encourage you to be proactive and discuss the risks of using e-cigarettes with them.
If you use e-cigarettes, you should visit your dentist regularly. Preventive dentistry aids in the avoidance of cavities, gum disease, enamel wear, gingivitis and periodontitis. During a dental visit, your dentist will also look for any early signs of oral cancer. We recommend that all individuals schedule regular check-ups with their dentist, typically every six to 12 months, but those who vape may need to visit the dentist more frequently.
Our dentists at The Landing Dental Spa care about your overall health and want you to have a healthy smile for years to come. If you have any questions about smoking, give us a call at 304-594-2200 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!