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Marketed as healthier alternatives to traditional tobacco, electronic cigarettes come with some real dangers. If you thought vaping was harmless, learn the truth about e-cigs and oral health.
What Exactly Is Vaping?
Vaping is when people inhale and exhale the aerosol from an e-cigarette. The typical e-cigarette contains a heating device, a battery and a cartridge of liquid nicotine, combined with flavoring. Once the battery-powered device heats the liquid, an aerosol is produced.
How Do E-cigarettes Affect Oral Health?
According to a study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center, when human mouth cells are exposed to e-cigarette vapors, they release inflammatory proteins. These proteins then aggravate the cells, resulting in damage that could contribute to a number of oral diseases. The study also found that specific flavoring chemicals included in many e-cigs exacerbate this damage.
In addition to these troublesome findings, researchers point out that e-cigs contain nicotine, which is known to negatively affect the mouth in several ways, including:
- Gum recession: Since it is a vasoconstrictor, nicotine reduces the amount of blood that is able to flow through the veins, depriving gums or oxygen and other nutrients.
- Oral health problems: Studies have linked nicotine to an increased risk of gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Masking: Nicotine can mask the effects of gum disease by preventing the redness and bleeding your dentist will look for when assessing potential problems.
- Bad breath: Nicotine reduces saliva production, which promotes bacteria buildup in the mouth.
- Grinding: Because it’s a stimulant, nicotine can cause people to grind their teeth more frequently.
Is Vaping Bad for Your Teeth?
Because they can contribute to gum disease, which can cause tooth loss, it’s safe to say that e-cigs are bad for your teeth. At the same time, since gum disease has been linked to diabetes and heart disease, there’s a good chance that e-cigs are bad for your overall health, as well.
Fundamentally speaking, anything that’s bad for your gums is also bad for your teeth. That said, e-cigs can also have a specific impact on teeth in at least two ways: In addition to damage caused by grinding, less saliva production can contribute to tooth decay.
Do E-cigs Stain Teeth?
With typical cigarettes, it’s the tobacco that causes yellow teeth. Since e-cigs contain no tobacco, they are less likely to cause tooth discoloration. That said, by reducing the amount of saliva in your mouth, e-cig vapor could increase the discoloring effects of coffee and certain foods. Because they promote the same sucking motion as traditional cigarettes, e-cigs can also cause wrinkles around the mouth, which can promote the appearance of premature aging.
Should I Use an E-cigarette?
Unfortunately, there are relatively few studies that have looked at the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. That said, the research that has been done has not been encouraging. Likewise, since the quality of individual e-cigs can vary, there’s no way to know if a particular brand will contain toxic chemicals of nanoparticles, which can negatively impact human health. For these reasons, and many others, health experts recommend that people avoid using e-cigarettes.