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Does Vaping Ruin Your Teeth?

Scientific evidence has so far shown vaping to be considerably less dangerous than smoking tobacco, but when it comes to the effects of e-cigarettes on users’ teeth and oral health in general, there isn’t a lot of evidence to go by.

Googling any phrase relating to vaping and tooth health will most likely yield page after page of articles on dentistry-themed websites, all of which warn of the danger electronic cigarettes poses to the health of your teeth, with some going as far as suggesting that vaping could be even worse than smoking. They all make the same points, some of which are valid, but when it comes to real evidence of the danger posed by e-cigarettes to your teeth, there isn’t a lot of it.

Vaping vs. Smoking 

Is vaping harmful for your teeth? Compared to what? If the answer is breathing only mountain air, brushing three times a day, and staying away from simulants and sugar, then the answer would most likely be ‘yes’. But if we’re comparing vaping to smoking, which we should, because that’s the only instance in which vaping is justified, then the answer is ‘no’.

Photo: Marek Studzinski/Unsplash

Yes, vaping is similar to smoking in some ways, but it’s also fundamentally different. For example, the vapor generated by an electronic cigarettes may contain nicotine, but it can also be nicotine-free, or it can contain just a fraction of the levels measured in a tobacco cigarette. I mention nicotine  because it is one of the main concerns cited by dentists.

A known vasoconstrictor, meaning that it causes constriction of blood vessels, nicotine may cause oxygen deficiency in various low blood flow zones of the human body, one of which is the gums. This lack of oxygen can result in inflammation or infections. But the same can be said about any stimulant, such as caffeine, so unless you plan on cutting out all stimulants completely, you shouldn’t just blame nicotine.

It’s worth keeping in mind that while nicotine can be found in e-cigarette aerosol, when you smoke you not only expose your teeth to nicotine, but tar, carbon monoxide, as well as other dangerous compounds and about 7,000 other substances we don’t even know that much about. Which one do you think is worse for your teeth?

What You Vape Matters!

Asking if e-cigarettes ruin your teeth is a deceptive question in itself. It depends a lot on what you vape. One of the few studies that looked at the effect of vaping on the teeth, found that certain flavorings and nicotine concentrations stained the teeth differently. Then again, this study was conducted on bovine teeth, in laboratory conditions, so it’s hard to take it seriously, at least for me. Unfortunately there just isn’t a lot of scientific evidence on this matter.

Photo: Caroline LM/Unsplash

For example if your e-liquid has a high concentration of sweeteners, it may very well have a harmful effect on your teeth. Does that mean we should consider vaping in general as harmful? I don’t think so, but what do I know?

The Dry Mouth Problem

One of the main ingredients in e-liquid is propylene glycol, which absorbs water and can cause your mouth to become drier than normal. The dry mouth phenomenon is known to expose the teeth to higher chances of developing cavities. It can also cause mouth sores and bad breath. Luckily, this can easily be prevented or at least mitigated by staying hydrated.

Just make sure to drink water, and not energy drinks or other sugar-loaded liquids that can have a very serious impact on the teeth. In some cases cited by several dentistry-related online resources I checked, the damage caused by energy-drink consumption related to dry mouth was ultimately blamed on vaping.

What You Must Remember!

When it comes to the effects of vaping on the teeth, there is barely any scientific evidence available. This 2018 study, for example, looked at tooth staining, and used bovine teeth to show that nicotine-containing e-liquid does seem to stain teeth. And this is one of the most quoted studies I’ve found, so…

Photo: Rafael Rocha/Unsplash

In absence of cold-hard scientific data, common sense and logic to find an answer to this question. I think it’s fair to assume that vaping can be hazardous to your oral health, especially when using high-nicotine e-liquid, and/or super-sweet juices. But is it as dangerous as smoking? No, it isn’t, and even most dentistry-related sources admit that.

“Vaping doesn’t contain tar and it doesn’t have to contain any nicotine – which are two of the biggest elements that cause tooth and gum disease. Only time will tell if vaping is truly safer than smoking, but it looks to be winning the debate with each passing day,” Dentistry.co.uk writes.

“A 2018 review from the National Academy of Sciences concluded that research suggests vaping poses fewer oral health risks than smoking cigarettes,” Healthline also mentions.

While vaping does involve some risks when it comes to oral health, they don’t seem to compare to the proven damage that smoking causes to the teeth and gums.

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