In recent years, vaping has emerged as a popular alternative to traditional smoking. Vaping involves inhaling aerosolized liquid from an electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cig or vape device. This liquid typically contains nicotine and flavorings, among other chemicals. Proponents of vaping claim it’s safer than smoking, but as the vaping trend continues to grow, it is important to understand the associated health risks, including the effect vaping can have on oral health.
At Bismarck Advanced Dental and Implants, we believe in providing our patients with all the information they need to make well-informed decisions about their oral health, so in this blog post, we will go over the risks associated with vaping and the impact this habit can have on oral health.
#1. Nicotine Addiction and Its Effects
Nicotine, no matter its form, is a highly addictive substance that has many detrimental effects on overall wellness, including oral health. It narrows blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the gums. Because of the diminished blood flow, the gums’ ability to fight off infection and heal themselves is impaired. This increases the risk of issues like gum disease.
Additionally, nicotine can lead to a condition called bruxism, or chronic teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Bruxism can wear down tooth enamel, leading to cracked teeth and causing sensitivity and pain. Combined with the acidic components of vape liquids, e-cigarettes are a major cause of oral health problems.
#2. Dry Mouth
Another significant oral health concern associated with vaping is its potential to cause dry mouth. Saliva plays a vital role in maintaining oral health and preventing tooth decay. It helps neutralize acids in the mouth in addition to washing away bacteria, plaque, and food particles. The chemicals in e-liquids can inhibit saliva production, increasing the risk for numerous oral health issues, including cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.
#3. Tooth Decay and Erosion
E-liquids often contain acidic substances such as citric acid that can weaken tooth enamel over time. As tooth enamel erodes, it becomes more susceptible to decay and cavities. Plus, vaping can stain the surface of the teeth, similar to traditional smoking. This combination of tooth decay, enamel erosion, and staining can result in a less appealing smile.
#4. Gum Disease
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a serious oral health condition characterized by inflammation and infection of both the gums and the bone that supports the teeth. Patients with gum disease experience bleeding, sore gums, along with gum recession and loose teeth. If left untreated, it can even lead to tooth loss.
Vaping is associated with an increased risk of gum disease. The chemicals found in e-liquids can irritate gum tissue, making the gums more susceptible to infection and inflammation. Additionally, dry mouth can further exacerbate gum disease — without saliva’s protection, irritation is much more likely.
#5. Oral Lesions
People who vape are also more likely to experience oral lesions. Vape devices generate heat, which can cause burns or thermal injuries to the tongue, gums, cheeks, or roof of the mouth. Additionally, some people may have allergic reactions to some of the substances found in e-liquids, resulting in painful ulcers or lesions.
#6. Bad Breath and Altered Taste
Lastly, vaping can contribute to bad breath, also known as halitosis. Dry mouth, which is common among people who vape, inhibits the mouth’s ability to cleanse itself, allowing odor-causing bacteria to thrive. Furthermore, because e-liquids can leave a bad taste in the mouth, it can inhibit the ability to perceive flavors properly.
Preventing Oral Health Issues Associated With Vaping
It’s best to stay away from vaping, but if you do vape, there are steps you can take to protect your oral health, including:
- Maintaining good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice per day and floss daily. Regular cleanings and check-ups at the dentist’s office can help you monitor and address any potential issues.
- Staying hydrated: Because vaping often causes dry mouth, it’s important to drink plenty of water to promote saliva production.
- Trying nicotine alternatives: You may want to consider nicotine alternatives that don’t involve inhaling harmful chemicals.
- Limiting vaping: Vaping’s addictive nature can make it hard to reduce your use or quit entirely, so consider getting some help to make the process easier. Reducing or quitting vaping will improve your oral health and increase your overall level of well-being.
- Consulting a dentist: If you experience any oral health complications related to vaping, make sure you seek professional dental care.
Take Care of Your Oral Health at Bismarck Advanced Dental
At Bismarck Advanced Dental, we offer a wide range of dental services. Whatever you need, whether it’s implants or a simple cleaning, we can help get your oral health back on track. Schedule an appointment with us today!