Updated: Dec 7, 2022
How Does Vaping Affect Your Oral Health?
We all know that smoking is bad for your oral health. It not only stains and darkens your teeth but is the leading cause for gum disease ( tooth loss) and one of the biggest contributors to oral cancer. Vaping has been advertised as a healthier alternative to smoking, but is it actually any better for your teeth and mouth? Let’s find out.
Can vaping cause gum disease?
One of the biggest ways that smoking damages your teeth is by increasing your risk to develop gum disease and therefore cause tooth loss. It is also directly associated to heart disease.
Smoking is thought to contribute to gum disease for three reasons:
Nicotine causes vasoconstriction, meaning that your gum has a impaired blood supply leading to an increased risk of infection. Nicotine masks the early warning signs of gum disease (swelling and bleeding when you brush). Hence, you think your gums are healthy when really they are not.
Smoking is a leading cause for dry mouth. Saliva is your body’s natural defence against plaque bacteria and therefore a decreased salivary flow increases the risk of cavities, gum disease, decreased taste, etc.
In general, smoking weakens the immune system leading to greater risk of infectious diseases to develop at a faster rate than in non-smokers.
Most negative effects of smoking are caused by the effects of nicotine. Vaping exposes your gums to both nicotine and hot, drying vapour. It’s not clear whether vaping is as damaging to your gums as smoking, mainly because the full effects of vaping on your immune system is not yet known. However, anything that exposes your gums directly to heat and nicotine will make you more likely to develop gum disease and lose your teeth.
Can vaping cause cavities?
Cavities (holes in your teeth) are usually caused by plaque acid eroding your tooth’s protective enamel layer. Plaque bacteria create this harmful acid when they come into contact with sugar.If you have a flavoured vape containing sugar, you're risk of developing cavities is greater. Constantly filling your mouth with sugar-rich vapour gives the bacteria in your mouth the means to endlessly produce acid.
Combine this with the mouth-drying effects of hot vapour and you are leaving your teeth very vulnerable to decay. Of course not all vape liquids contain sugar, so be mindful of choosing a sugar free one. This will not eliminate the harm done to your mouth and teeth through vaping completely however.
Can vaping stain your teeth?
There are not many studies conducted on e-cigarettes and teeth staining. In theory, vaping should have less of a staining effect on your teeth than cigarettes. With cigarettes your teeth turn yellow and brown due to the tar, ash and nicotine in them. Vapes do not contain tar or ash, but do contain nicotine. Although nicotine is colourless in itself, it turns light yellow when exposed to oxygen. Long-term vaping may well, in theory at least, stain your teeth. However we can only say for sure one way or another when proper evidence is available.
Can vaping cause mouth cancer?
E-cigarettes have not been around long enough to conduct studies with sufficient data to say one way or another if they cause cancer. We do know that many of the carcinogens found in cigarettes exist in the tar that occurs when tobacco is burned.
Vaporized nicotine does not contain this tar, but it does contain a whole host of ingredients not found in traditional cigarettes. It’s not unlikely that some of these ingredients may be shown to be carcinogenic in the future. Nicotine, which is common to both traditional and E-cigarettes has not been demonstrated to cause cancer. In short, there is no evidence that vaping causes mouth cancer based on data collected thus far.
Are there any other ways that vaping can damage teeth?
Nicotine is a stimulant and can promote tooth grinding. Tooth grinding slowly wears away tooth enamel. This makes your teeth more susceptible to chips, cracks and cavities. As vaping dries the mouth, it can also cause bad breath.