Vaping and Oral Health- What are the Dangers?
Vaping, no doubt, has gained wide popularity as an effective smoking-cessation tool. Yea, and it is a highly less-harmful than traditional cigarette smoking. However, some health experts have been able to point out some effects of vaping on oral health.
This is attributed to the nicotine content which is studied to restrict nutrient supply and oxygen to the soft tissues of the mouth. That’s why you need to learn about the dangers and how to minimize the side effects of vaping on your oral health.
What is Vaping?
Vaping is simply the act of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by burning the e-juices in vape pens, electronic cigarettes, or advanced personal vaporizing (also called MODS).
These vaping devices consist of a cartridge filled with e-juice (a combination of nicotine, propylene glycol, and other chemicals or metals), a mouthpiece, and a heating device that burns these ingredients to produce vapor. These devices are usually battery-powered and the current produced run through the metal or glass chamber to produce vapor.
The e-juices in vaping devices come in various flavors (strawberry, root beer, chai tea, etc.) and you can always choose the flavor that appeals to you. However, these flavorings can cause many health problems if you don’t stick to some preventive measures (which are highlighted later part of this article).
Effect of Vaping on Oral health
Although vaping is a good alternative to smoking cigarettes, it comes with some effects on both your teeth and gums. The nicotine content can expose you to some dangers if you don’t take appropriate measures.
Here are some dangers of vaping on oral health:
- The nicotine content can restrict the blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the gums. Without enough blood flow through your veins, your gums don’t get the needed nutrient and oxygen to stay healthy. This can cause the death of gum tissues, and eventually lead to gum recession. More so, the vapors from e-cigs release the inflammatory protein in the gum tissues, and this can lead to periodontitis. When you have severely receding gums, it can lead to increased risk of cavities, tooth sensitivity, and sometimes loss of teeth.
- The reduced blood flow in the oral cavity reduces the ability of the mouth to fight bacteria. This can eventually cause dry mouth, gum infection, tooth loss, tooth decay, and other oral health issues.
- The aerosols produced from vaping can irritate the lining of the mucosal and get absorbed into the buccal mucosa and the pharyngeal tissues.
However, not everyone who vapes encounters the dangers of vaping. But it is good to be aware of the symptoms. As you expose yourself to nicotine-infused e-juices, you should keep in mind that you’re more likely to experience the following dental problems:
- Inflamed gums: The chemicals contained in e-juices are capable of triggering inflammatory responses in gum tissues. More so, nicotine damages the connective tissues that hold the teeth in place. All these can increase the risk of gum disease and tooth loss. So it is advisable to stop and seek treatment when you notice symptoms like receding gums, tender or swollen gums, wiggly teeth, bleeding gums, or ongoing bad breath (halitosis).
- Dry mouth: E-juices contain propylene glycol that increases the risk of dry mouth. It reduces the saliva in your mouth, and you may experience chronic dryness if you don’t treat this condition, and this may lead to tooth decay, mouth sores, and bad breath (halitosis).
- Excess bacteria: Studies have shown that exposure to e-cig aerosol can encourage more bacteria in the pits and crevices of the teeth. And when you have excess bacteria in your mouth, it can result in gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities.
- Bruxism and tooth damage: The nicotine inhaled during vaping can act as a muscle stimulant, causing you to grind your teeth (bruxism). This can be worse if you’re already a tooth grinder. And the grinding, clenching, or gnashing can lead to tooth damage and other oral health complications.
- Death of Cells: If you expose yourself too long to vape aerosols, it can trigger the premature death of cells. This means the cells will lose their ability to divide and grow, which encourages the aging process and eventual death of cells. This condition can lead to serious oral health issues such as tooth and bone loss.
How to Minimize the Dangers of Vaping on Oral Health
You don’t have to fear the dangers highlighted above if you can follow some simple tips which are highlighted below. You can vape and still keep your teeth and gums healthy by following these measures:
- Brush your teeth: You already know the common practice of brushing twice daily. Try to stick to it to help you kill plaque-causing bacteria, promote your gum health, and prevent tooth decay.
- Floss your teeth: Asides brushing twice daily, you should also floss regularly to promote healthy teeth and gum.
- Drink water: You can wash away nicotine and other chemicals in vape juices by drinking water regularly. This helps to reduce their side effects, keep you hydrated, and limit the risk of dry mouth and bad breath.
- Visit your dentist regularly: It is advisable to visit your dentist at least twice a year if you vape. You need to get a thorough dental check-up and dental cleaning to keep your oral health in good shape. When you visit your dentist or periodontist regularly, it helps with the early detection of symptoms of any dental health problem so you can get the appropriate treatment. You also get a chance to clear the presence of nicotine in your mouth through professional dental cleaning.
Vaping products do not contain tobacco and are safe alternatives to smoking cigarettes, but you still stand the risk of having oral health problems due to the chemicals contained in the e-juices including nicotine and other substances contained in the vapor aerosols.
But the good news is that you can reduce the risk of having oral health problems as you vape. You just have to brush twice daily, floss regularly, drink plenty of water, and visit your dentist at least twice a year for a proper dental checkup.
However, if you notice any signs or symptoms of a dental health problem, ensure you seek dental treatment right away.