Is Vaping Bad for Your Teeth?
Vaping has been a hot topic in the news recently due to the serious medical complications doctors are seeing in teenage patients. Many people began vaping as an alternative to traditional smoking, assuming it was healthier. The problem is that vaping attracts a much younger audience than cigarettes do.
As time progresses, and more and more people suffer the effects of vaping, we have more information on just how bad it really is for you. As dentists, of course, we are worried about your oral health. And the answer is YES, vaping is bad for your teeth.
Vaping with Nicotine
All vaping is bad for you, which we’ll discuss in the next section. Vaping with nicotine is bad for you because some people actually put more nicotine in their e-cig than is present in a cigarette. The assumption of safety and its being acceptable in many places that are traditionally non-smoking means that people may vape more often than they would have smoked.
Nicotine is harmful to your oral health because it constricts the blood flow to your gum tissues. Smokers and capers have a much higher risk for progressive gum disease. Because there is reduced blood flow, the gums may not experience the normal inflammation associated with gum disease. This is dangerous because it makes the disease “silent”, meaning the patient may not notice any symptoms.
Nicotine also affects your body’s ability to heal from injuries, infections, or surgical procedures. Our patients who vape have a higher risk for post-operative complications like dry socket, infection, and failure of dental implants.
Vaping without Nicotine
Many people, especially teenagers, assume that if they don’t put nicotine into their e-cigs or vape pens, then they have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, the nicotine isn’t the only harmful ingredient in vape liquid.
Propylene glycol is a colorless liquid that acts as the carrier for the other ingredients in e-cigarette liquid. There are two really bad effects of propylene glycol on the mouth.
- It breaks down into some strong acids. We know that acids put the teeth at a much higher risk for cavities by weakening and softening enamel.
- It draws water out of saliva and oral tissues, leading to a dry mouth. Saliva is important in the protecting teeth against acid and gums against bacteria. Without it, you risk for both cavities and gum disease increases.
Vegetable glycerin is another additive in e-cig liquids that oral bacteria cannot digest and use to form cavities in the teeth. But that doesn’t make it okay. Studies show that it changes the consistency of dental plaque.
Plaque is the soft buildup that collects on the teeth and gums, containing bacteria, food debris and exfoliated tissue cells from the lining of the mouth. The bacteria in plaque cause both cavities and gum disease. What vaping does is make the plaque sticky and more difficult to remove from the teeth. This consistency change makes cavities and gum disease more likely.
One of the novelties of vaping for teenagers is the ability to create fun flavors. There are countless flavorings available online and in vape shops. The flavorings do not contain sugar, but they do somehow cause a decrease in the hardness of tooth enamel. Basically, they soften the outer layer of the teeth, and a softer tooth is more susceptible to the acid attacks of cavity-causing bacteria.
Another scary aspect of vaping you may have seen in the news is the rare, but ever-present, danger of the pen or e-cig exploding in someone’s mouth. These incidents result from overheating of the batteries and igniting the volatile liquids within. At least one person has died from injuries sustained in an e-cig explosion, and many others have suffered serious injuries.
Why is Vaping such a Big Concern?
Vaping has grown in popularity faster than scientific research, so we actually don’t even know all the damaging effects it can have on the human body. It presents a large concern among today’s youth because it is more attractive to teenagers than smoking cigarettes. Young students who say they would never touch a cigarette or other types of tobacco think nothing of vaping every day.
The danger is in the assumption that vaping is safe, when it clearly is not!
How is Dentistry Involved?
Our dentists and dental hygienists are able to spot changes in your oral health. When we notice a teen, who used to have perfectly healthy saliva and plaque levels, with a dry mouth and sticky plaque, we start asking questions. We don’t force anyone to confess anything. We just want to make sure they understand the dangerous consequences of something they may consider to be a harmless pastime.
More Questions about Vaping and Oral Health?
Call Designer Smiles today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren. They can answer any questions about your specific state and how vaping may be affecting your oral health.