Is Harmful to Your Teeth and Overall Oral Health?
As the use of e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” grows in popularity, many are hailing it as the healthier alternative to smoking. Plenty of former smokers have kicked the tobacco habit by switching to vaping. People are buying expensive vapes and liquid in an endless range of flavors to get in on the hot new trend — even some who never smoked cigarettes. With the trend here to stay, former smokers and vapers everywhere are wondering, “Is vaping bad for your teeth?” or at least as less bad for your teeth than smoking.
So far, laws and health research have been struggling to keep up with the rapid growth of vaping’s popularity. People are quick to hail e-cigarettes as a harmless habit, but doctors and dentists worry that this may be an overly optimistic viewpoint.
What is Vaping?
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat up liquid to produce a vapour (as the name suggests) which is inhaled by the user, contrary to cigarettes which produce smoke by burning tobacco. The difference is important in several ways. Vapour dissipates more quickly and doesn’t leave an unpleasant smell. In theory, this means people should be able to use e-cigarettes anywhere — but increasingly, laws are beginning to treat vaping the same as smoking, and more and more bans are being passed on vaping indoors or in public places.
Inhaling vapor is also less harsh on the lungs, throat and mouth than smoking cigarettes. Or at least, that’s the idea. But many dentists remain unconvinced that vapes are entirely safe for oral health.
Smoke or Vapor, Nicotine is Harmful To Teeth and Your Mouth
Whether it’s inhaled via vapor or smoke, nicotine is proven to have harmful effects on oral and overall health. It acts as a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it constricts veins and limits bloodflow. This can lead to gum recession: less bloodflow to the gums means less oxygen and nutrients, which leads to the withering and death of gum tissues.
Another result of nicotine use is a decrease in saliva production, which can have a range of negative results including bad breath, dry mouth, bacteria buildup and tooth decay. Additionally, nicotine is a stimulant, which can cause people to grind their teeth, wearing away at the enamel and tooth structure.
One definite benefit to vaping is that, unlike with cigarettes, users can choose how much nicotine they want to ingest. Vape liquid is available with varying levels of nicotine, ranging from significantly more than a traditional cigarette, all the way down to none at all. Though there is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the effects of vaping in general, the less nicotine your body absorbs, the better.
Long-Term Impacts Have Not Been Studied
Though researchers all over the world are hard at work studying the health effects of vaping, the truth is, we just won’t have any definite answers until we can see the long-term impact of e-cigarette use when it comes to oral health or overall health. Current data does point to e-cigarettes being less harmful than traditional smoking habits, but more harmful than not smoking/vaping at all.
The Verdict: Is Vaping Bad for Your Teeth?
In short, yes. While they have helped many people quit the destructive addiction of smoking, until more is understood about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes, most dentists will continue to recommend going cold turkey as the best option for your oral health.
Author; Dr Jeremy Rourke, B.D.S. Hons. Syd Univ. Dental Surgeon
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My name is Jeremy Rourke. I’m part of a family of dentists with my father, brother, cousin and nephew also being dentists. I won a University of Sydney Dental Alumni prize for being the top student in my year and graduated with Honours in 1971. I have been a Registered dentist for over 40 years. In that time I have created a few “firsts” in my efforts to stay ahead.
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