Ronald L. Cooper DDS, FAGD

Is Vaping Bad for Your Teeth?

Have you heard about vaping or know someone who vapes?  Vaping has increased significantly in the last four years and is becoming very popular in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Vaping involves using an electronic cigarette (e-cig) that simulates the experience of smoking a regular cigarette.  Each e-cig contains e-liquid or e-juice that includes a combination of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine, and flavorings.  By heating e-liquid, users can simulate the experience of smoking a cigarette.

Many smokers made the switch to vaping to scale back or stop smoking altogether.  There is also a wave of vapers who have jumped on the bandwagon because of the appealing flavors.

What are the components of an e-cig?

In August 2016, the FDA added e-cigs to its regulatory power, but that does not mean that the product is necessarily safe. Below are the ingredients of e-liquid or e-juice.

  • Nicotine: This is the main component in cigarettes and the most detrimental in both cigarettes and e-cigs. Even though the amount of nicotine in e-cigs is a lot less than cigarettes, it still affects the gum tissue, which can lead to gum disease or decay. It is also known to cause multiple health problems such as heart and lung disease. It is worth noting that nicotine is optional in e-cigs.  
  • Propylene Glycol: This component is a sweet, colorless liquid that can be found in ice cream, whipped cream, and other foods. It consists of acetic acid, lactic acid, and propionaldehyde which are all harmful to teeth and the soft tissue of the gums.
  • Vegetable Glycerin:  This is also a colorless, odorless, sweet liquid used in food and is not known to be harmful on its own. However, when infused with the rest of the components, especially the flavoring, it is a strong carrier for bacteria.
  • Flavorings: This is added to give flavor to the e-cig, which is a huge selling point for vapers. Plos One stated that a 27% decrease in enamel density occurred when flavorings were added to e-liquid as compared to unflavored controls. Healthline states that among the flavors tested, menthol proved the most damaging to oral cells.

Is vaping better or worse than smoking cigarettes?

Although vaping is widely marketed as a way to quit smoking, it has not been approved by the FDA as a method for smoking cessation. The National Academy of Sciences states that vaping causes less oral health risks than smoking cigarettes. However, both are still highly addictive, and there are many unknown chemicals in e-cigs that are still to be discovered. Since vaping is somewhat a new trend, more research is needed to determine long-term effects.  

Is vaping bad for your teeth?

According to current research, vaping can have many dangerous effects on your oral health.

Dry Mouth: This is a condition of feeling dehydrated after vaping. Propylene glycol, a component of vaping, is a hygroscopic compound which absorbs the water molecules in saliva, leading to dehydration. Dry mouth can lead to bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease, so it is important to stay hydrated while vaping.

Gum Disease: Vaping does not necessarily guarantee gum disease. However, more than one component of an e-cig can cause gum irritation and redness. Nicotine is also known for causing periodontal (gum) disease.

Excessive Bacteria and Tooth Decay: Glycerin is believed to increase the formation of biofilms and allows bacteria to adhere to enamel. When merged with flavorings, research has shown that there is a 27% decrease in enamel density. Bacteria leads to tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and more. Nicotine is also a strong factor for all of the above, along with stains.      

Bad Breath (Halitosis): Constantly having a dry mouth in addition to excessive bacteria will give you bad breath. This is a common factor in smoking cigarettes and vaping.    

If you chose to vape,  make sure to brush and floss twice a day to decrease bacteria, prevent cavities, and preserve good oral health. It is also very important to visit a dentist on a regular basis for an assessment of your oral health.  We would love to have you as a new patient!