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A Dentist's Perspective: Oral Health Impacts of E-Cigarettes and Vaping

01.03.17 Tuesday
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Image By TBEC Review [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

E-cigarettes are becoming a very popular alternative to traditional tobacco products with more and more smokers turning to e-cigarettes under the assumption that they are safer or healthier. Additionally, according to a CDC report on Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students, E-cigarettes are especially popular among teens, with e-cigarette use increasing 1000% from 2011 to 16 percent. With e-cigarettes more popular than ever (especially among teens), the question remains what is the oral health impact of E-Cigarette use or vaping?

Differences Between Tobacco and E-Cigarettes

Traditional tobacco products contain many toxic chemicals and can cause cancer, tooth discoloration, plaque buildup, and bad breath. The tar and residue that is produced from smoking tobacco sticks to your teeth and causes discoloration. E-cigarettes produce vapor from a liquid mix of water, nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine, and flavoring ingredients.

Are E-Cigarettes & Vaping Bad for Your Teeth?

According to an article published in the journal Oncotarget, the vapors and flavoring used in e-cigarettes can cause tissue damage and inflammation to your gums and oral cavity. It was also noted that the menthol flavor damaged cells more than the classic tobacco flavor. Additionally, due to the fact that E-Cigarettes use nicotine they can cause gum recession and periodontal diseases because of the vasoconstrictor properties of nicotine which reduces blood flow, nutrient, and oxygen supply to gums. Furthermore, nicotine inhalation reduces your ability to product saliva leaving you vulnerable to bacteria buildup, dry mouth, and tooth decay.

The use of Nicotine can also mask the progression of gum disease. Typically, when you have gum disease there is an increase blood flow in your gums, which causes them to become irritated and bleed. Nicotine reduces the blood flow to your gums, hiding the tell-tale bleeding of gum disease, leading users and dentists to falsely believe their oral health has improved.

Do E-Cigarettes Stain Your Teeth?

E-cigarettes won’t stain your teeth like a traditional tobacco product because there is no tar or smoke in the vapor produced from e-cigarettes. However, it is possible that flavoring additives or dyes in the e-liquid could stain your teeth. Plaque buildup as a result of nicotine inhalation and reduced saliva production can also potentially stain your teeth yellow.

Closing Thoughts

While E-Cigarette manufacturers may claim that their products are superior or safer, there are still oral health risks to consider when vaping. At Pacific Dental Center, we recommend that you avoid smoking or vaping completely if possible to avoid putting your overall health and dental health at risk.

If you have questions or concerns about how E-Cigarette or tobacco use may be affecting your oral health, schedule an appointment today with Dr. Jim Snow and ask if you’re a good candidate for Laser Periodontics Therapy.

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