Is Vaping Bad for Your Mouth?
Absolutely, 100%, there is no doubt that vaping is bad for your mouth.
This new trend causes concern among dentists because we know that many people are choosing it as a “healthier” option. Just because it is slightly better for you than smoking cigarettes does not mean it is okay. Vaping can cause disastrous effects on the teeth and gums, as well as the rest of the body.
Effects of Vaping with Nicotine
Nicotine causes a constriction of blood vessels and has a particularly strong effect on tiny blood vessels in the extremities of the body. Most people do not realize that the gum tissue surrounding the teeth is an “extremity”. As nicotine narrows and constricts these blood vessels, the gums do not receive the nutrients, hydration, and cells they need to remain healthy. Nicotine users have a much higher risk for gum disease, and they have impaired healing from any type of wound or surgery in the mouth.
One benefit of e-cigarettes and vaping pens over traditional cigarettes is that people can reduce the amount of nicotine. It is important to note that even without any nicotine at all, vaping still has harmful effects on the mouth.
Effects of Vaping without Nicotine
It is a mistake to assume that nicotine is the only harmful substance involved in vaping. It is NOT! Several of the other ingredients in vaping are dangerous.
One of the attractions of vaping is the ability to add a wide variety of flavors to your pen. Some of the flavorings impair the function of blood vessels in the mouth, and others cause inflammation. One interesting fact is that the amount of tissue damage was much worse when users combine more than one flavor.
One study also showed that the flavorings in e-liquids led to a 27% decrease in enamel hardness. Softer enamel leads to more cavities.
This is one of the major ingredients in e-liquids, and it acts as a carrier for the nicotine and flavorings. Propylene glycol has several harmful effects on the mouth. First of all, when it breaks down inside the mouth, it produces several acids. Acid weakens and softens tooth enamel, making it easier for cavities to start. It also pulls water out of the saliva and tissues of the mouth, leading to a dry mouth. Dry mouth allows bacteria to take over, producing cavities, gum disease and bad breath.
Glycerin creates a thicker, stickier consistency for bacteria and plaque in the mouth. It allows bad, cavity-causing bacteria to stick to the teeth, making it more difficult to remove. Sticky, hard-to-remove plaque increases the risk of cavities.
The danger with the batteries in e-cigs is the potential for fires or explosions. When these occur during use, burns to the hands, face, and mouth result. Two deaths have been reported to date! Current estimates cite over 2000 explosions and injuries between 2015 and 2017.
Why is This Such a Big Deal?
The reason health concerns over vaping are increasing is because we are seeing a drastic increase in usage among teenagers! While tobacco usage has gone down among teens, e-cigs and vaping pens have exploded (pun intended) in popularity. Most teenagers assume this is a harmless habit, compared to smoking. They also typically do not inform their parents of their new habit. Dental professionals may be the first to notice changes in oral health that could result from vaping.
Do You or a Loved One Use an E-Cig?
Don’t wait until you have problems with your teeth and gums. Call today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning. He can answer all of your questions about how vaping can affect your mouth.