With an array of flavours and the cost of tobacco products rising, vaping is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to smoking. But new research from the school of dental medicine at Tufts University indicates that vaping may lead to tooth decay. Researchers said that the study demonstrated a “significant difference” in the risk of cavities in people who vape compared to people who don’t.
Karina Irusa, assistant professor at Tufts University who led the research, said that the results “serve as an alert that this once seemingly harmless habit may be very detrimental”.
Although the reasons for the link are not conclusive, various factors could increase the risk of tooth decay if you vape. Let’s look at five reasons why vaping is not good for your teeth or oral health.
- Dental Cavities — Flavoured vape liquid needs sweetener. This means when you vape, you inhale sugars that feed plaque bacteria which produces acid. The result is enamel erosion and an increase in your risk of cavities.
- Gum disease — If nicotine is in your e-liquid, this is a known vasoconstrictor. This means it causes constriction of blood vessels, limits how well they work, and reduces blood flow and nutrients to gums, leading to gum disease and recession.
- Dry mouth — One ingredient found in many vape liquids is propylene glycol. This ingredient absorbs saliva, reducing moisture in the mouth and throat. A dry mouth is a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria, and a dry mouth causes bad breath!
- Teeth grinding — Nicotine is a stimulant and has been linked to an increase in teeth grinding and clenching. This wears away enamel and can lead to chipped and cracked teeth, increasing the risk of cavities.
- Yellow and stained teeth — Nicotine stains teeth and can make them look discoloured. Plus, nicotine enters the deeper layer of teeth, which means brushing won’t stop your teeth from going yellow.
We spoke to Gareth Edwards, BDS, principle dentist and co-owner of Smile Stories Dental Clinic in Bournemouth, for his opinion on vaping.
“I would strongly encourage anyone who vapes to stop, or at the very least use an e-liquid with little or no nicotine, and always brush teeth or chew sugar-free gum immediately after vaping. This helps to reduce bacteria and reduces the risk of gum disease and cavities.”
Health Risks of Vaping
In addition to being bad for oral health, vaping has been linked with various other damaging health risks. These include, but are not limited to:
Lung damage — One of the common chemicals in flavoured vape liquid is diacetyl. This has been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, otherwise referred to as popcorn lung. Another lung condition known to be caused by vaping is called EVALI, which causes widespread lung damage.
Heart disease — If your vape liquid contains nicotine, this can cause high blood pressure and constrict blood vessels, raising the risk of heart disease and cardiac arrest.
Not Ready to Give up Vaping?
If you can’t give up vaping, make sure you tell your dentist that you vape. They can advise you on ways to ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy. And without a doubt, you should have a dental checkup every six months if you vape.