How Vaping Affects Your Oral Health

By Dr. Christopher Li

September 27, 2021

oral health, vaping

You would probably agree that smoking is bad for your health. But did you know that vaping is just as harmful? Smoking real cigarettes and vaping e-cigarettes both increase your risk for serious health issues, including increased dental plaque and gum disease. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are E-Cigarettes?

what-are-e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are devices that use heat to produce vapour instead of smoke to inhale nicotine and other flavoured substances. Vaping is using e-cigarettes to smoke. Many people think vaping is a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes and will switch to vaping when trying to quit smoking. However, although vaping substances do have fewer chemicals than vaping nicotine or cigarettes, they also contain their own unhealthy toxins that people need to be aware of.

What’s Dangerous About Vaping?

whats-dangerous-about-vaping

The vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol used in vaping products are considered safe when used in products such as cosmetics, or sweeteners in foods and drinks. Over the long-term however, no one knows how safe they are when inhaled. Likewise, the chemicals used to flavour vaping products may be safe for eating, but are not necessarily safe when heated and inhaled.

While these solutions aren’t actually burned during the vaping process, the high heat used is enough to generate toxic chemicals, including poisons such as formaldehyde. Contaminants can also be released during this heating process such as nickel, tin, and aluminum. How much is released is based on a long list of factors, including:

  • Type of vaping device, battery power, and the internal components used
  • Settings used on the vaping device
  • Type of vaping liquid and how much nicotine is used
  • How often you vape and how experienced you are in using e-cigarettes

While the amount of chemicals is admittedly much lower than real cigarettes, there are still too many unknowns at this stage to conclude that vaping is safe.

What Is E-Juice And Why Is It Toxic?

what-is-e-juice

E-juice is the flavoured substance used in vaping, and it has its own harmful side effects. There are several types of e-juice that can be particularly harmful. Avoid e-juices containing:

  • Diacetyl
  • Acetylpropionyl (2,3-pentanedione)
  • Acetoin
  • Acrolein
  • Acrylamide
  • Acrylonitrile
  • Benzaldehyde
  • Citral
  • Crotonaldehyde
  • Ethylvanillin
  • Eucalyptol
  • Formaldehyde
  • Propylene oxide
  • Pulegone
  • Vanillin

It is probably hard to find e-juices without these ingredients, but the flavours that tend to contain higher amounts of them are creamy flavours containing diacetyl and an ingredient called cinnamaldehyde used for cinnamon flavours.

Who’s Vaping In Canada?

whos-vaping-in-Canada

According to statistics, in 2017, 15% of Canadians said they tried vaping. The highest age groups were between 15 to 19 and 20 to 24. As well:

  • 15% of those who vape have never smoked cigarettes
  • 20% were “former” smokers
  • Of those who either smoked or were former smokers, 32% said they chose vaping as an aid to quit smoking
  • 34% of students in grades 7 to 12 had tried vaping
  • Of these, 28% used nicotine

What Are The Health Risks Of Vaping?

health-risks-of-vaping

The many long-term health risks associated with vaping are similar to those associated with smoking, including:

  • The nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive
  • According to research, nicotine inhaled when vaping can still cause cancer by damaging your DNA
  • Nicotine and e-cigarettes both promote tumour growth in some types of cancer including cancer of the lungs, gastrointestinal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and breast cancer

In the short term, vaping also:

  • Impacts lung health
  • Damages blood cells
  • Increases risk of heart disease
  • Suppresses the immune system

Even if you choose an e-juice without the nicotine, there are many risks, including:

  • Irritation of the mouth, throat, airways, and lungs due to the heat produced when vaping
  • Inflammation of immune cells
  • Inflammation of the lungs and throat
  • Inflammatory response in white blood cells

As mentioned, the substances found in e-juice can be toxic when heated, leading to many different health issues.

The Impact Of Vaping On Oral Health

impact-of-vaping-on-oral-health

You may be surprised to learn that the nicotine used for vaping causes just as many oral health issues as smoking cigarettes. The main issues with vaping and oral health include:

Receding Gums 

Vaping nicotine products leads to reduced blood flow. This decreases the amount of nutrients and oxygen reaching your gums. Without vital nutrients and oxygen, your gum tissue can die, leading to gum recession. While this might not sound so serious, receding gums can lead to painful tooth sensitivity, increase your risk for cavities, and even full tooth loss.

Dry Mouth 

Dry mouth is not only uncomfortable but also bad for your teeth. Nicotine decreases saliva, which in turn increases bacteria-causing tooth decay. Dry mouth can also cause bad breath, even when you use flavoured e-juice.

Bruxism (teeth grinding) 

When you vape, the sucking motion of inhaling stimulates your muscles. The stimulation can cause you to grind your teeth. If you are a teeth grinder already, vaping can make things worse. The clenching and gnashing of bruxism can lead to serious damage, from tooth chips to enamel wear.

Gum Disease 

When using nicotine products, vaping can cause serious gum issues including inflammation and swelling. Combine these symptoms with dry mouth and the increased bacteria can lead to gum disease. The symptoms and risks of gum disease aren’t pretty:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Red, irritated, or bleeding gums
  • Tender, swollen gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth loss
  • Receding gums

As you can see, vaping and oral health do not go well together. Trust us when we say that gum disease is really something you don’t want to deal with.

What About Vaping Marijuana?

vaping-marijuana

Vaping marijuana or products containing cannabidiol or THC also have side effects to consider, including:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

THC products can produce a far more pronounced “high” which can be dangerous, especially when driving or trying to do something that requires focus. However, because CBD and THC oils also come in flavours, you should be aware they present the same health risks as any other flavoured e-juices.

In conclusion, vaping is just as bad as smoking cigarettes even if you aren’t choosing an e-juice with nicotine. Worse still is the fact there are so many unknowns associated with vaping that no one can say what the long-term effects may be.

To see if vaping is affecting your oral health, call us today 416-232-2033 or click here to request an appointment.

Dr. Christopher Li

About the author

Dr. Christopher Li; Dr. Chris, as he is affectionately known, is a licensed dentist with over 20 years of experience. His caring personality makes even the most tentative person at ease. Patients are constantly commenting about how Dr. Chris is incredible at delivering pain-free freezing, and how he has an amazing chair-side manner.Dr. Chris and his team have built an exceptional dental clinic serving The Queensway, Etobicoke, Toronto and surrounding areas.

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