Vaping and Oral Health: How Does It Affect Your Teeth and Gums

Vaping has become increasingly popular over the last decade, especially with the legalization of marijuana in the state of Colorado. The act of vaping involves inhaling an aerosol containing nicotine or THC (the active chemical in marijuana responsible for its psychological effects). The aerosol that is inhaled and exhaled is often referred to as vapours. Vaping is performed through a device sometimes called an e-cigarette or vape pen. The device heats up turning the flavored liquid into vapours that pass through the mouth as it is inhaled into the lungs.

 vaping and oral health

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Does Vaping Stain Teeth?

Vaping is promoted by advertisers to be healthier than smoking cigarettes or marijuana, but there are still many health concerns associated with vaping. Fortunately, one of the only positive factors about vaping versus traditional smoking is that it does not typically cause such bad breath or stain the teeth. Smoking cigarettes involves smoke and tar that causes teeth to turn yellow and brown. Smoking marijuana can have similar effects.

Oral Disease Associated with Vaping

Research published in the scientific journal, Tobacco Control, revealed that toxic chemicals in e-cigarettes registered at levels 9 to 450 times lower than smoking regular cigarettes. Despite the reduced chemical toxicity, vaping still contains chemicals that reduce blood flow in the body, particularly to the mouth. The decrease in oxygen reduces the amount of healthy nutrients that reach the gums. The nicotine in e-cigarettes can also restrict the salivary flow and can lead to an increase in bacterial plaque on teeth and gums which can lead to an increase in tooth decay.

The increase in unwanted bacteria combined with the lack of nutrients can cause oral health problems such as receding gums, that otherwise could be prevented. Some individuals who vape report lesions in the mouth. Also, ulcers and stomatitis, inflammation of lips and mouth, can occur because mucous membranes are irritated from chemical components in the vaping aerosol solution.

The use of nicotine and smoking marijuana, whether it is smoked or vaped, can also increase the risk of developing gingivitis. Gingivitis can cause inflammation and gums to bleed.  Inflammation of the gums, as well as increased potential for infection and tooth decay, can be the unwanted result of vaping.

Individuals who vape marijuana or nicotine are more likely to experience periodontitis. Periodontitis is an oral disease in which the gums become infected causing teeth to loosen and potentially fall out. Periodontal disease is a serious condition that can not only affect the gums but one’s jaw bone as well.

Chemicals in Vapours May Cause Oral Cancer

While many reports indicate that vaping is healthier in many ways than smoking, studies show that vaping can still lead to oral cancer. Whether directly or indirectly, chemicals such as acrolein, methylglyoxal, and formaldehyde, found in vaping products are carcinogenic and can alter one’s DNA. Ultimately, the components of the aerosol in the vapours are linked to an increased likelihood of developing cancer.

Oral Cancer Screening

Luckily, oral cancer screenings are available at many dentists offices. Whether you vape, smoke cigarettes or marijuana or never have smoked at all you can get screened for oral cancer during a regular dental hygiene exam. The process only takes a few minutes and is painless. If abnormal tissue or cancerous cells are detected, a biopsy is taken at the dentist’s office and sent to a lab for analysis.

Even if you show no signs or symptoms of concern, an oral cancer screening can identify if both cancerous or precancerous cells are present in the mouth. According to the Oral Care Foundation, people die every day from untreated oral cancer. Early detection of oral cancer can literally save one’s life. As a preventative measure, inquire about oral cancer screening with your dentist.   

Recommended Oral Hygiene For Those Who Vape

Preventing your mouth from becoming too dry by hydrating after vaping can help you maintain your oral health. In addition, brushing twice a day for two minutes each session (recommended by the American Dental Association) can be a positive step in reducing your risk for cavities and preventing gingivitis that could lead to more damaging oral health problems such as periodontitis.

Routine visits to your dentists, twice a year, are also helpful to ensure your best oral health possible. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist for an oral cancer screening as a precaution or if there are areas of concern such as lesions or inflammation on your tongue, gums or anywhere else in your mouth. Dr. David Evans and his friendly staff are available to assist you if you have any concerns. Call today or schedule an appointment online.