Vaping has become far more popular over the last few years, with an estimated 55 million e-cigarette users worldwide in 2021. The United States has one of the three largest markets for vaping products!
The number of vape users in America is at an all time high – and it’s not just adults with a vaping habit. Youth e-cigarette use has risen by an astounding 1,800% from 2011 to 2019.
So what does vaping mean for a person’s oral health? Is vaping safer than smoking cigarettes? How exactly does vaping affect the gums?
We truly value patient education at Periodontal Health Center! Our goal is to provide you with the knowledge you need to achieve or maintain a healthy mouth and a healthy body.
Here’s everything you need to know about vaping and oral health:
What is a vape?
A vape is an e-cigarette (electric, battery-powered cigarette) used to smoke nicotine and other chemicals. Vape “juice”, the liquid in vape devices, usually contains nicotine, water, chemical flavorings, and a propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin base.
The user presses a button to heat up the liquid, creating a vapor that the user inhales.
Vapes are seen as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes – and while vapes may not expose you to as many chemicals as traditional cigarettes do, vapes are equally addictive, more convenient (and therefore smoked more frequently), and linked to an outbreak of lung injuries and deaths (Johns Hopkins Medicine).
Vaping also has a significant impact on your gum health and overall oral health!
Vaping, Gums and Oral Health
The main danger in vaping and smoking lies in the nicotine. Nicotine is a chemical compound found in tobacco plants, and whether it’s smoked or vaporized, restricts blood flow to the gums.
When blood is restricted from traveling to the gums, this increases the risk of developing gum disease.
Let’s explore a study conducted by researchers at the NYU College of Dentistry:
“Researchers studied the oral health of 84 adults from three groups: cigarette smokers, e-cigarette users, and people who have never smoked. Gum disease was assessed through two dental exams six months apart, during which plaque samples were taken to analyze the bacteria present.
All participants had some gum disease at the start of the study, with cigarette smokers having the most severe disease, followed by e-cigarette users. After six months, the researchers observed that gum disease had worsened in some participants in each group, including several e-cigarette users.”
Not only does the nicotine in vape juice restrict blood flow, but the added chemicals (including propylene glycol, benzene, and formaldehyde) weaken the immune system and increase the risk of gum disease.
“It’s absolutely scary stuff,” says Dr. Purnima Kumar, professor at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry and the study’s senior author.
“E-cigarettes stress the bacterial communities that live in your mouth, and they encase themselves in slime. So they’re no longer good bacteria and the inflammatory response is through the roof. People are walking around thinking they’re healthy, but they are just primed for disease.”
So, does smoking or vaping cause gum disease? It sure does!
Vaping puts your gums at risk.
Vaping puts your gums at risk of developing an infection and exhibiting unhealthy symptoms, such as the gums receding from the teeth to expose the tooth roots, as well as the gums bleeding, swelling and inflaming.
This dangerous habit can jeopardize your oral health, disrupt your oral microbiome, and leave you more susceptible to disease. Is it worth it? We don’t think so!
Think twice before picking up a vape, and if you’re already a vape user, the CDC offers a number of free resources to help you kick your addiction.
If you want to keep your natural, beautiful teeth for a lifetime, you have to take care of your gums. A healthy body begins with a healthy mouth.
Still have questions about vaping and oral health?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We’re here to support you and your gums!