As a hardened pipe smoker for many decades it may surprise you to learn that it was concern about my teeth that made me switch to vaping.
Most of you will have read articles about how vaping is “safer” on the lungs than smoking but both have to pass through the mouth first.
Have you ever wondered what vaping does to your gums, teeth and mouth?
Well there is good news and bad news both of which should encourage you to review your oral hygiene habits. Adults only get one set of teeth and so they do need looking after.
I obviously knew that smoking was not a “healthy” activity and could lead to lung cancer. But my breathing was fine and anyway….I enjoyed it and told myself that I was OK.
I had also seen the yellow/brown stains on the first two fingers of many people so I knew that cigarette smoke created tar stains. My dentist constantly pointed out that smoking was not good for my teeth but they did not hurt and it was his job to tell me such things.
Over the years my teeth gradually lost their whiteness and dimmed to a pale then deeper yellow. As it was not a sudden change then it all seemed part of the natural aging process and nothing really to worry about.
But when a dark brown line started to appear down the centre of my two front teeth I started to take notice and only then did I start to worry enough to do something about it.
I knew that poor oral health can leave one susceptible to heart disease and other nasties. If you have ever lost sleep as a result of a toothache then you have learned the hard way that your dental well-being does matter.
The exquisite pain of a tooth abscess is something to be avoided.
So I wanted to know whether vaping could be doing long-term damage to teeth and gums.
According to most, if not all, dentists if you smoke then you are more susceptible to a range of dental problems, including tooth loss, yellowing stains, plaque buildup, bad breath, gum related infections and diseases, and various forms of oral cancer.
And although tooth loss is a natural result of aging in non-smokers as well, the rate at which a smoker’s teeth will fall out is twice that of a non-smoker!
Double. That’s really scary!
And they wear masks to protect themselves from the bad breath that comes from an habitual smoker.
It is not because they have bad breath!
Dentists “know” that you are a smoker as soon as they look into your mouth.
They can see all of the inside of your mouth which you cannot …unless you have a series of mirrors and are a contortionist!
They see the damage to the surface of your teeth and in the crevices, the tooth discoloration and the state and colour of the gums.
Smoking restricts blood flow to the gums, so wounds take longer to heal and the overall well-being of the mouth suffers.
So that is why dentists nag you about smoking…but you are a vaper. Will they nag you for that as well?
Smoke is the result of combustion and it contains over 4000 different chemicals some of which are carcinogenic.
This smoke leaves behind a residue. The residue sticks to the teeth and eventually stains them. These chemicals inside of the smoke are the source of dental health problems.
And you know that they can lead to overall health problems such as lung cancer and other respiratory and cardiac problems.
The good news is that vaping or using e-cigarettes does not produce smoke as there is no combustion. A vapour is produced instead.
The vapour that you draw when using an e-cig does not contain any of the harmful chemicals contained in a traditional cigarette,cigar or pipe.
E-cigs use a liquid mix of nicotine, distilled water, flavouring ingredients, and propylene glycol (PG) that turns into a vapour when heated. There is no burning so no harmful smoke.
No smoke means no residue.
No residue means no teeth discoloration, plaque buildup, or bad breath.
Although that sounds like great news for vapers everywhere there is still the problem of nicotine and if you are using ejuice that has a nicotine content then you need to read on.
I found a factsheet about nicotine which you can read by using the link but here are some things I learned:
So if you make your own elquids….never drink the nicotine!
There is a lot more in the factsheet but did you know ….your dentist does….that Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor.
This means that it can stimulate the contraction of the muscular wall of blood vessels, resulting in reduced blood flow.
This leads to a decrease of nutrient and oxygen supply to the gums thereby increasing the probability of periodontal (bad gums) disease.
Restriction of blood flow also affects the mouths natural inhibitory function of cleaning and fighting bacteria, as well as reduces the body’s innate ability to heal and generate new cells.
The harmful effect of nicotine inhalation is that it inhibits your ability to produce saliva, which can leave you susceptible to bacteria buildup, dry mouth, and tooth decay.
There is research that suggests that nicotine is a muscle stimulant. This can lead to bruxism (grinding of teeth). Side effects of bruxism include flattening of the tooth, pain in the jaw, tooth sensitivity, and headaches……None of which are nice!
However, you can choose how much nicotine you want in your e-cig, so lower levels are better for oral health.
I am no dentist so cannot give advice as to what you should or should not do when it comes to vaping and its effects on your oral hygiene.
All I can do is pass on what I have found and point you to take proper professional advice quickly if you notice any of the following:
Bleeding or inflamed gums, Persistent halitosis, Wobbly or loose teeth, Tenderness, swelling and redness of gums, Tooth loss, Gum recession.
The staining comes from years of smoking and not seeing the dentist until its too late.
Good to know that vaping is not going to do this to your teeth!
If you have queries or concerns about how electronic cigarettes can affect teeth, gums and mouth, it is essential that you see your dentist at once.
What I have discovered is that the general view is that vaping will not stain your teeth or give you bad breath. But there is no scientific research to say one way or the other.
I can say that in the past two years since I started vaping my teeth colour has improved. The brown line remains but it is fainter and the teeth are a paler yellow.
It does seem that it is the presence of nicotine in the e-liquid that may still be a problem,and the amount of nicotine ingested during the vaping process should be taken into consideration during any attempt to evaluate the impact of vaping on teeth and gums.
Vapers typically expose themselves to far less nicotine than their smoking counterparts and this helps to reduce the risk of the potential oral health problems above.
As with any health related ailment the main priority should be on early detection of problems.
Make sure you have an oral hygiene regimen that is effective by brushing regularly and flossing each day. Use a sensible mouthwash.
Be alert to bleeding and other signs of gum complications, so that you can contact your dentist at the first sign of trouble.
And, of course, reduce your nicotine levels wherever possible, and even go to a zero nicotine e-liquid if you can.
Since nicotine appears to be the only real tooth and gum hazard at issue here, any reduction in its use should make you even safer.
It is not for me to extol or condemn smoking or vaping. It is your choice and if you choose to smoke then now you know what it will do to your teeth.
And if you choose or have chosen to vape you know it will not stain your teeth but may give you gum problems in the future if you vape ejuice with nicotine…..and yes we have lots of E liquids in the shop that have zero nicotine.