Are e-Cigarettes Actually Bad For My Oral Health?

Thursday March 16, 2017 by
Melissa Brown, DDS

Ever since e-cigarettes were introduced into the marketplace, they’ve gained a number of enthusiastic supporters. Not only have they lured non-smokers to pick them up, but they’ve also been used as a tool to help smokers quit tobacco.

The popularity of e-cigarettes can be attributed to the fact that they don’t release smoke. Instead they deliver nicotine to users while emitting water vapor. For this reason, they’ve often been thought of as a safe alternative to smoking. However, research shows that they are every bit as harmful to your health as traditional cigarettes. Learn more about e-cigarettes and what science has to say about “vaping” (inhaling the vapor produced by e-cigarettes).

What Are the Effects of Vaping on Our Health?

As we mentioned, vaping has long been thought of as a harmless substitution for smoking. However, vaping has a number of detrimental effects to your health including:

1. Dry Mouth.

Dry mouth is also referred to as xerostomia. While this condition may not sound like a big deal, it can wreak havoc on your oral health. Typically, saliva protects the mouth by neutralizing harmful acids.

However, with dry mouth, plaque and bacteria develop more rapidly. This makes you more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay. Xerostomia is one of the most common effects of vaping.

2. Gum Tissue Damage.

When vapors from e-cigarettes are burned, our bodies release inflammatory proteins. These proteins aggravate stress on the cells, leading to gum tissue damage. While nicotine has long been known to contribute to gum disease, researchers have discovered that flavored vaping liquids (menthol, for example) exasperate that effect.

3. Cell Death.

E-cigarette vapor has also been associated with mouth cell death. To study this issue, scientists exposed cells taken from the mouth to e-cigarette vapor on a regular basis over the course of a few days. They also created a control group of mouth cells that weren’t exposed to vapor.
In just 3 days, the number of dead or dying mouth cells in the vapor group was 53%. By contrast, the control group had only 2% dead or dying cells. While it’s too early to predict the health consequences of long-term vaping, it’s safe to say you’ll experience better health outcomes if you quit vaping entirely.

You’ve Convinced Me. How Can I Quit Vaping?

Quitting vaping isn’t so different from quitting traditional smoking. Of course, that leads to the question, “how does someone quit traditional smoking?” Fortunately, we have a good idea of what works best.

According to CNN, the most effective methods for quitting include financial incentives—for example, making a bet you’ll successfully quit, or quitting with a buddy, using a nicotine alternative like the patch, getting a RX from your doctor, or mentally preparing yourself to go cold turkey. Although some people require multiple attempts before they quit vaping successfully, we urge you not to give up. It’s essential for your oral health!

And speaking of your oral health, please schedule your dental exam if you’re due for a checkup. If you smoke or vape, it’s even more important that you come in for regular dental visits. To schedule your appointment online, click here.