With the growing concerns of the long-term effects of vaping, we often overlook the issues these products have on teeth and gums. Similar to many other health areas, making the switch from smoking tobacco cigarettes to vaping products is a healthy alternative for oral health. That being said, are you comfortable with this simple truth or would you like to know more?
According to research and studies, making the switch from cigarettes to vaping products can be around 98 percent better for your mouth, teeth, and gums. However, this doesn’t mean vaping is harmless to oral health. It means it’s healthier than smoking cigarettes. While this is great news and something vapers should be happy to hear, they still need to know about the oral health risks that come with e-cigarettes and vaping products.
Before we go any further with this article, we want to be very clear with our intentions of the content. It is not our goal to persuade anyone to make the switch from cigarettes to vaping. We do not aim to be a voice against e-cigarettes or vaping as a healthy alternative to tobacco products.
We simply wish to disclose the facts on the effects vaping has on our teeth and overall oral health. There are plenty of measures that can and should be taken other than simply not vaping. That being said, if you don’t know about the risks involved, how can you go about preventing them?
There are several positive effects, not just to oral health, by making the switch from cigarettes to vaping products. Still, there’s much to study and learn regarding the long-term effects of vaping. We simply don’t know many of the answers due to how new these products are. They have only been on the market since the early 2000s. That being said, whether they are minimal or substantial, there are still risks involved when it comes to using vape products. It’s well worth taking the time to know both the positive and the negative in regards to the issue.
When it comes to the effects vaping has on our oral health and teeth, two conditions come up the most, both cavities and gum disease. Because of this, we want to discuss exactly what these are. Let’s get started.
Exactly what are cavities?
More often than not, caries, better known as cavities, are simply considered as tooth decay. One of the biggest issues we have with cavities is very seldom done we see them coming with any symptoms. Once we realize they are there, it’s really too late to do anything about it. Cavities have the ability to kill the nerve, affect the inner dentin layer of our teeth, and the outer layer of enamel. As a cavity gets bigger, it may come with sharp pain. While eating, you may experience sensitivity. When a cavity isn’t treated, you are in danger of spreading to other teeth and could lose the tooth already affected.
How do I get a cavity?
Teeth erode from a byproduct of an acid that’s produced from bacteria that feeds on the sugar and food we eat. Some other factors that may contribute to cavities include systemic diseases, poor oral hygiene, stress, smoking, and diet.
What is gum disease?
One of the most common forms of gum disease is Gingivitis. If you have issues with your gums bleeding, swelling, or turning red, there’s a chance you could have this mild form of gum disease. During the initial stages, there is minimal to no pain involved. More often than not, it can easily be reversed with a combination of better oral hygiene and treatment from a dentist.
Still, the most common result of periodontal disease is from gingivitis is left untreated. Both bacteria and plaque grow beneath the gum line, causing the gums to become detached from a tooth, leading to the destruction of supporting bone structure and periodontal ligaments.
This can all be avoided through regular checkups with a dentist. They have the ability to identify gum disease by measuring your gums and taking X-rays.
Do I need to be worried about periodontal disease?
Many people are unaware of the fact that chronic periodontitis is more common than any other disease throughout the world, more common even than cardiovascular disease or diabetes. This is the greatest reason for tooth loss. There is usually no pain involved and happens slowly over time.
Many people fail to realize the advanced stages of gum disease are irreversible. Once a person begins to lose bone, there isn’t anything that can be done for getting it back. In a best-case scenario, the bone may be added by a periodontist, creating more consistency with the horizontal level but it can never be restored to the original height.
How does gum disease happen?
Gingivitis is caused by the bacteria found in plaque. Some of the factors that may contribute include systemic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, nutrition, smoking, stress, and inadequate oral hygiene.
What we know about the effects of vaping on teeth
Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor. This means, nicotine limits the arteries, lowering how much-oxygenated blood and nutrients are able to flow to the gums. This same blood is also filled with white blood cells. The responsibilities of these specific cells are attacking foreign substances that can be harmful to our health.
Porphyromonas gingivalis, tannerella forsythia, and treponema denticola are commonly referred to as “Red Complex Bacteria.” They are able to not only live but grow, in an environment that is deoxygenated. They are also found in periodontal pockets, plaque, and tartar. Gingivitis is created through these pathogens, leading to the destruction of supporting alveolar bone and periodontal ligaments.
Because of the effects of nicotine on our blood vessels, our body doesn’t have as much ability to combat Red Complex Bacteria, leading nicotine users to be at a much higher risk of gum disease. Because gums don’t receive enough blood flow due to the use of nicotine, they fail to receive the nutrients and oxygen they need to be healthy.
Teeth are more likely to become sensitive as a result of vaping. This is because the exposure of the underlying root structure and risks of gum recession is raised due to the vapor’s heat and the nicotine being used. The root of our teeth is made of cementum, unlike the crown. Because of this, the root is not as hard and is even more sensitive than the crown to both cold and heat. There are several other factors that contribute to this recession such as occlusion, gum disease, even brushing too hard.
Both vasoconstrictive properties found in nicotine and the heat produced from the vaporizer play a part in people who use vaping products to experience what is known as dry mouth. This is by far the most common side effect vapors have. By drinking plenty of fluids, this can easily be avoided.
Both healthy saliva and a mouth being properly hydrated play a huge role in stabilizing the pH in a person’s mouth. There are enzyme lysozymes found in saliva beneficial for both flushing and cleaning the gums in the mouth, as well as killing bacteria.
Box mods and sub-ohm tanks are regularly designed by manufacturers of vaping products. The limits are pushed by putting out as much vapor and wattage as possible. Because of this, there’s nothing wrong with turning down the power on the vaping device you’re using. Instead of using an RBA, a sub-ohm tank can be used to lower the levels of nicotine being delivered.
People who smoke naturally tend to grind their teeth more than nonsmokers, without even realizing they are doing it. This is because evidence shows the muscles in a mouth are stimulated by nicotine. Grinding the teeth has side effects of headaches, the flattening of a tooth, sensitivity, and experiencing pain in the jaw.
One thing that’s commonly found between both cigarette smokers and vapers is developing a lesion of the upper plate. This is known as nicotine stomatitis. The heat produced by using these products leads to the thickening of the tissue in the mouth. This isn’t regarded as being premalignant and is similar to a callus on the skin. The symptoms of this include a slight irritation, redness in color, and the cracking or whitening of tissue.
The gums starting to bleed periodically and inflammation are two of the main characteristics of gum disease. The blood vessels are necrotized by the heat of these products. Also, the vasoconstrictive properties we find in nicotine are able to hide these symptoms from someone who doesn’t know what they’re looking for. Both tooth loss and periodontitis can happen when this goes untreated for too long.
The positive we can take away
Almost all of the negative side effects we’ve discussed are a direct result of using nicotine. If you are someone who uses vaping products and the effects worry you or create concern, there’s always liquid available for your vaporizer that does not contain nicotine. This is a privilege someone who smokes cigarettes doesn’t have. That being said, it’s always a good idea for someone who uses vaping products to visit a dentist regularly to check the condition of both your gums and teeth.
It’s still being debated whether one of the effects of using vaping products is the staining of teeth. One thing cigarettes have that vaping products don’t is tar. Because nicotine on its own is water-soluble, it doesn’t produce a stain on teeth. The darkening or yellowing of the liquids used in vaping products is created by oxidation of nicotine. This can easily be washed or brushed off of teeth.
That being said, if the liquid being used is made with any food coloring, there’s the potential of staining. However, unlike the tar found in cigarettes, good oral hygiene can remove these stains created by the food coloring.
There are far fewer carcinogenic toxins found in vaping products compared to cigarettes. Recent studies and research have shown around 98 percent less of these harmful toxins. The correlation to any oral cancer and vaping’s long-term effects are still being researched and studied. The data simply isn’t there as of now. One thing that can be determined through the studies that have been finished is that using e-cigarettes and vaping products is a healthy alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes.
Keep in mind, many people who have never used nicotine in their life suffer from both a dry mouth and gum disease. Yes, using a vaping product does produce an effect on gum disease. We simply haven’t been able to scientifically determine just how much of an effect is produced with the use of these products.
The results we have been able to learn is that there are significantly fewer pathogens found in vapor than tobacco products. A tobacco cigarette contains more than 65 compounds that cause or lead to cancer, more than 390 toxins, and over 7,000 chemicals than e-cigarettes or vaping products. Other than oral cancer, smoking cigarettes leads to heart disease, lung cancer, and many other health-related issues. It’s yet to be confirmed scientifically that the same can be said with vaping products.
Lastly, and possibly most important, the delivered nicotine from vaping products is drastically lower than the nicotine delivery from tobacco products. The vapor contains particles that are much larger than you will find in cigarettes and other tobacco products. Because these particles are larger, they are unable to penetrate the lungs as deep and it’s a much lower rate at which they are being absorbed. According to estimation, one cigarette is equivalent to one mL of 18 mg of the liquid used with vaping products.
If you are someone who uses vaping products and has concerns after reading this, there are a few simple steps you can take. For starters, turn down the level of wattage being used on your vaporizer. Make sure the holes for airflow are completely opened. Use a lower level of nicotine in your liquids, if any nicotine at all. When inhaling the vapor, make sure this is done very slowly and without creating any negative pressure.