The Dental Impacts of Vaping
Vaping has picked up the reputation of being harmless when compared with traditional cigarettes. But emerging studies suggest that vaping may be more harmful to the mouth than originally thought.
Here’s what you need to know if you vape or are interested in trying it.
What Is Vaping?
“Vaping” is the term most commonly used to refer to the use of electronic cigarettes. These devices contain a heating mechanism that converts a liquid into an aerosol. This liquid has nicotine and flavorings to create a pleasant experience for the user.
As the liquid heats up in the device, the user can then inhale the resulting aerosol. The entire experience simulates smoking minus the tar and tobacco. Controlled doses of nicotine allow the user to gradually wean themselves off nicotine use, altogether.
That’s why many people hold up vaping as the superior alternative to cigarettes - it’s very safe in comparison. People trying to kick their nicotine addiction can do so gradually while at the same time immediately stopping their exposure to carcinogens like smoke and tobacco.
Despite these benefits, vaping does hold a few potential risks.
Risks of Vaping
Studies are still underway to determine the benefits and risks of vaping and whether or not those benefits outweigh the risks.
Common sense suggests that vaping isn’t healthy for the lungs. The lungs are designed to transfer oxygen to the bloodstream, so inhaling anything that isn’t oxygen sets you up for potential risks.
For example, one risk associated with vaping is a rare condition called lipoid pneumonia. This is when a lipid substance (like the vegetable glycerin used in vaping solutions) is inhaled into the lungs and causes inflammation. The condition is not common and there is no clear consensus on whether or not vaping can directly cause it.
So can vaping have any effect on the mouth?
Effects of Vaping on the Mouth
As with other aspects of vaping, the ultimate effects it has on the oral environment have yet to be fully understood, but there are a few probable outcomes.
Dryness and irritation. The vaping devices release a very hot aerosol into the mouth so the sensitive oral tissues make the first contact with the vapor. Dry mouth and a sore throat can result.
The dry oral environment is prime for bacteria growth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease as well as enamel demineralization.
Oral cancer. There is no definitive information on whether vaping has an effect on oral cancer risk, but long-term studies are ongoing to determine this.
Reduced circulation. Research clearly shows that the nicotine in e-cigarettes is absorbed through tissues in the mouth, not the lungs. Negative effects from the nicotine would thus have the biggest impact right on the mouth
Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor which means it restricts blood flow to the affected tissues. As a result, vaping can deprive oral tissues of the oxygen and nutrients they need. This can lead to poor healing, gum recession, and an increase in infections.
Talk with a Dentist to Learn More About Vaping
Vaping may not yet be proven to directly cause problems, but you should know where your oral health stands, anyway. If you already suffer from gum disease or cavities, then you may be more prone to complications from vaping.
Schedule a checkup with a Tacoma general dentist like Dr. Duke Bui to find out the latest on vaping and dental health.