- Vaping products such as JUUL are rising in popularity
- Is vaping harmful to your teeth and gums?
- Your dentist can treat damage caused by vaping
- How to quit vaping to protect your teeth, gums, and overall health
For decades, we’ve been warned about the bad effects smoking can have on our oral health, including stained teeth, gum disease, and the risk of oral cancer. The warnings seemed to have been effective, as the number of tobacco smokers has decreased in recent years.
Then along came vaping.
Vaping products, also known as e-cigarettes, were touted by their manufacturers as a “safer, cleaner” alternative to traditional tobacco products, as well as an ideal way to wean oneself off cigarettes.
Aggressive marketing campaigns also focused on the sleek look of the vaporizer, as well as the several tasty designer flavours that don’t leave a strong odour.
Since their introduction, vaping has become a very popular choice for tobacco users looking for their nicotine fix, especially in light of their supposed low-risk to the user’s health.
However, despite the marketing claims of the e-cigarette industry, there’s no scientific evidence that these products are at all healthy, or have little to no oral health consequences to people who use them. In fact, vaping can actually cause several health conditions that can result in everything from tooth loss to oral cancer.
What is vaping?
Vaping involves the inhaling and exhaling of an aerosol vapour generated by a device, such as an e-cigarette. Whereas smoking generally involves tobacco, vaping also includes the inhalation of non-tobacco products.
On the surface, alternative options to tobacco sound great. However, you can still be exposed to toxic substances when vaping non-tobacco products. This can lead to adverse oral health conditions, and have a negative affect to your overall well-being.
Vaping devices are all available in all shapes, sizes, and configurations to appeal to a wide consumer base. JUUL, the most popular e-cigarette on the market, makes a small device that looks like a USB drive. The nicotine cartridges you can load into a JUUL device come in an enticing array of flavours, including mint, mango, and crème brule.
In other words, between sleek design, tempting flavours, and easy access in almost any grocery, convenience store, or gas station, JUUL and other e-cigarette companies have given consumers almost every reason to try their products. However, as dental professionals with over 30 years experience, we have 5 important reasons why you shouldn’t.
Why is vaping bad for your teeth?
Underneath the delicious flavours they offer, many vaping products still contain nicotine. When the nicotine is vaporized in the vaping device’s chamber, you could be inhaling many harmful substances that could be detrimental to your oral health. Some of the more notable risks include:
- Gingivitis: When inhaled, nicotine can constrict blood vessels and prevent healthy blood flow, leading to an inflammation of the gums known as gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis can cause bad breath and tender gums, and lead to a much more serious condition known as periodontal disease.
- Periodontal disease: Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease is an advanced form of gingivitis. Components in vaporized nicotine exacerbate the problem by adhering to your saliva, creating a bacterial breeding ground in the crevices in and between your teeth along the gum line. The result is the softening of tooth enamel, receding and bleeding gums, and possibly tooth loss.
- Oral thrush: One of the ingredients in the liquid that vaporizes the nicotine is propylene glycol, which restricts moisture by binding itself to moistness inside the mouth. Without salvia, our mouth and throat will become dry, which can lead to a fungi infection of the mucous membranes in your mouth known as oral thrush.
- Tooth decay: Dry mouth is a concern here too. Saliva helps to wash away food debris and reduce plaque on our teeth. Without saliva, we risk tooth decay and eventual tooth loss.
- Oral cancer: The vapour breaks down into several toxic substances, such as acetic acid, lactic acid, and propionaldehyde, which can cause serious damage to the tissues in your mouth. Over time, changes to the DNA in this tissue can bring a serious risk to contracting oral cancer.
If you suspect your oral health might be suffering from the effects of vaping, it’s time to make an appointment with your dentist.
Can my dentist help treat the effects of vaping?
If your gums are sensitive, swollen, discoloured, or bleeding, you might have periodontal disease.
When caught early, your dentist can often reverse gum disease by removing as much tartar as possible from the affected areas. However, advanced or persistent gum disease will need specialized treatment. Our onsite periodontist Dr. Maayan Inger can offer several treatment options that can help get your mouth clean and healthy again.
Your dentist can also help treat and solve gingivitis, oral thrush, tooth decay, and problems with your gum tissue whenever necessary. If you suffer from any sort of pain or discomfort with your teeth, gums, or any other part of your oral cavity, all you have to do is make an appointment to get on the road to recovery.
Of course, to minimize the effects on your oral health from vaping, it’s always advisable to reduce or completely quit using e-cigarettes.
How to Quit Vaping
If you vape, quitting sooner rather than later may be one of the best health decisions you can make.
However, like most addictions, quitting vaping is easier said than done.
The best idea is to speak to your doctor about recommended strategies to leave the vaporizer behind forever. There are also a number of online resources that can help you or a loved one break the habit.
In Canada, there have been many initiatives introduced to help protect the growing number of young people who have adopted the vaping lifestyle. Nova Scotia has recently announced plans to ban the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices to further protect young users.
Raising the issue of vaping can be difficult with youth, especially when you’re competing against peer pressure, targeted marketing, and so-called “influencers” on social media. Fortunately, the Government of Canada offers a great tip sheet to get the conversation started, and put young people on a vape-free road to better health.
Complete Dental Services at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto
One of the best ways to maintain optimal oral health is through regular dental check-ups that can detect and treat potential issues with your teeth and gums before they turn into something more severe.
If you or a loved one have any concerns about oral health related to vaping, or just want to come in for a checkup to maintain and protect your beautiful smile, give Yonge Eglinton Dental a call today at 416-932-2222 or visit us online to book an appointment. We’d love to see you!