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For years now, we’ve known that using tobacco products can have serious, negative impacts on your dental health—as well as your health overall. These days, however, many people, especially younger people, are turning to vaping because they perceive it to be a “safer” alternative to traditional tobacco products.
The problem is that vaping, while different than smoking or chewing tobacco, carries its own risks to your dental and overall health. As your Kansas City family dentist, we felt it was our duty to lay out a few of the ways that vaping affects your oral health, specifically. If you want to know more about vaping’s effect on the body overall, you may want to visit the CDC’s page on vaping and e-cigarettes.
What is vaping, and how does it work? Vaping was designed as a way to help smokers quit. It is intended to be safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, but it was not originally intended for long-term use. An e-cigarette or vape pen is a device that heats a liquid mixture (sometimes called “vape juice”) to produce an aerosol that is inhaled. This “vape juice” usually contains nicotine. In fact, studies by the CDC have determined that as many as 99% of vapes use nicotine, sometimes even when they are marketed as being nicotine-free. What’s more, some popular vape brands can contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 traditional cigarettes.
How does vaping impact your oral health? The effects of tobacco use on oral health are well understood, but the harmful impacts of vaping are still being assessed. However, as a practicing family dentist in Kansas City, we already know some of the risks associated with vaping. The most serious risk of vaping is shared with traditional tobacco products: Nicotine damages the gums. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the gums and can contribute to tooth loss and gum disease. Gum disease, in turn, is often a gateway to even more serious conditions.
Vaping has other risks to your teeth and gums, as well. While the nicotine content of e-cigarettes varies, nicotine is only one of the many risks that vaping poses to your oral health. Most vape juice recipes contain chemicals such as propylene glycol, which damages tooth enamel and the soft tissues of your mouth. Vape juice also contains sweeteners that can stick to teeth, reducing the protection of your enamel and increasing the proliferation of harmful bacteria, which feed on sugars and other sweeteners. Vaping has other side effects that can be hazardous to your oral health, including dry mouth. When that happens, your mouth produces less saliva, which is your first line of defense against threats to your teeth and gums.
Is vaping more or less hazardous than smoking cigarettes? The jury is still out on this question. Preliminary studies suggest that vaping may be less harmful to your oral health than other kinds of tobacco use, but many other factors are at play, including how much nicotine is actually contained in the specific vape product you use. In any event, even if vaping does prove to be less harmful than smoking cigarettes or using other kinds of tobacco, it’s still worse for your dental health—and your health overall—than abstaining altogether.
As your Kansas City family dentist, Blacker Family Dental recommends avoiding tobacco products, including vaping. Your teeth and gums will thank you, and so will the rest of your body. If you have questions or concerns about the safety of vaping, smoking, or any other aspect of your life when it comes to your oral health, just give us a call at (816) 763-8400 or click here to schedule an appointment.