Is vaping bad for your teeth and gums? Does vaping cause gum recession? Will vaping stain teeth? These are just some of the questions we get about vaping and oral health…
The short answer is yes… Vaping could affect your teeth and/or gums in several ways. Although more research is needed, studies suggest vaping could cause you to experience dry mouth, gum inflammation and higher levels of oral bacteria. Potentially, vaping could contribute to bad breath, tooth decay and even periodontal disease.
BUT… Don’t throw away your vape in a panic just yet!
There are steps you can take to reduce oral problems when vaping and we’ll cover these in just a bit! Including one tip you’ve probably not tried before…
It’s also important to consider whether vaping is better for your teeth and gums than smoking traditional cigarettes.
Let’s be honest, most of us are vaping as a substitute for cigarettes. It should be fairly obvious vaping won’t actually improve oral health. But is it better for your teeth and gums than smoking? And if so, is this a ‘necessary’ risk considering the alternative?…
Read on to find out exactly what vaping does to your teeth and gums, what the studies tell us and how you can vape with minimal risk to your oral health!
WHAT DOES VAPING DO TO YOUR TEETH AND GUMS?
Although it needs to be studied in greater detail, it’s generally well accepted that vaping is likely to impact oral health in several ways;
We’ve all experienced this from time to time. Vape all day and you’re likely to get a dry mouth.
It’s actually the Propylene Glycol (PG) in your vape juice that causes this drying effect. Specifically, PG has a drying affect which draws moisture from the saliva in your mouth and throat.
It’s the saliva in your mouth that helps protect against harmful germs and bacteria. As a result, dry mouth caused by vaping could increase your chances of tooth decay and gum disease.
Gum problems while vaping could include inflammation, irritation or even recession of gum tissue.
It’s well known that nicotine (usually one of your vape juice ingredients) reduces the flow of blood, nutrients and oxygen to your gums. Obviously this is bad for your oral health and can cause a number of issues.
Personally, I’ve experienced a combination of all three at one time or another. Occasionally sore and tender gums while vaping and mild yet progressive gum recession in recent years.
However, I can’t blame my gum issues solely on vaping. If I’m being completely honest, a penchant for takeaway pizza and energy drinks could also be my problem here…
I also suffer from PG Intolerance and it’s hard to know how much this affected my gums in those early months of vaping.
Increased Oral Bacteria
We’ve talked about this briefly already. Vaping reduces the saliva in your mouth and throat, which creates a favourable environment for bad bacteria to thrive.
The lack of oxygen, blood flow and nutrients to your gum tissue further reduces your mouth’s ability to fight these bad bacteria.
A study in 2018 also found that the viscosity of vape juice allowed bad bacteria to adhere more efficiently to the surface of teeth. That same study goes on further to state that e-liquids could even cause “bacteria-initiated enamel demineralization”. Now I’m no dentist but I do know tooth enamel is something you want to hang on to…
DOES VAPING STAIN YOUR TEETH?
It’s a well known fact that smoking damages your chances of a pearly white smile. But does vaping stain your teeth in the same way? The truth is vaping could cause discolouration of your teeth. However, it’s generally accepted that the nicotine in your e-liquid is the primary culprit here… Therefore, choose a nicotine strength that’s just high enough to satisfy your cravings and no higher!
WHAT DO THE STUDIES TELL US ABOUT VAPING AND ORAL HEALTH?
Although vaping is still relatively new, more and more studies are being conducted every year. Some of these studies have focused specifically on the affects of vaping on oral health.
This study conducted in 2017 looked at gingivitis and periodontal disease between smokers, e-cigarette users and those who didn’t smoke or vape.
The study found that gingival pain and periodontal inflammation was lower in the vaping subjects than those that smoked. However, it should come as no surprise that the above markers were lower still for subjects that didn’t smoke or vape.
This study conducted in 2019 again confirmed that regular e-cigarette use is associated with increased risk of developing periodontal disease compared to participants who had never used a vaping device.
This Italian study conducted in 2016 focused on the oral health of ex-smokers who’d recently switched to vaping.
The study found that switching to vaping resulted in a “remarkable” regression in plaque and a significant reduction in periodontal bleeding.
IS SMOKING OR VAPING BETTER FOR YOUR TEETH AND GUMS?
Personally, this is a question I’m still waiting to have answered…
As a heavy smoker for many years, I switched to vaping with the hope that it was a safer alternative. And at first glance, the available data seemed to suggest that vaping was better for your oral health when compared to smoking.
However, not every study comes to the same conclusion…
Conducted in 2016, the results of this study found that vaping could actually cause damage to gum tissue cells equivalent to the damage caused by traditional cigarettes. The researchers also found that e-liquid flavoring (and in particular, menthol flavored e-liquid!) actually increased the risk of cell damage.
This is potentially cause for concern and I think further research needs to be done before we can conclusively confirm whether vaping or smoking is better for oral health.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR TEETH AND GUMS WHILE VAPING?
I think it’s probably safe to say that vaping isn’t good for your teeth and gums.
But there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of oral health problems while vaping;
Drink plenty of water
I always make sure to drink at least 3 litres of water a day to keep me hydrated while vaping. Many oral health problems caused by vaping can be linked back to dehydration and it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to combat this. It’s not just good for oral health either… Drinking more water is great for your skin and kidneys too!
Maintain the proper oral health routine
By this I mean to make sure you brush twice a day, floss once a day and visit your dentist at least once a year. We all know there’s really no substitute for brushing and taking proper care of your mouth.
Reduce the nicotine in your e-liquid
The debate regarding oral health while vaping is heavily focused on the use of nicotine in your e-juice. It’s a well known fact that nicotine is a known contributor to gum disease and poor oral health. By reducing the nicotine in your e-liquid, you reduce this risk…
Start oil pulling
Oil pulling is the process of ‘swishing’ oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes every morning before breakfast. It sounds crazy I know… And to be fair, you’re likely to look pretty crazy while doing it! BUT, speaking from experience I can promise you it’ll make a difference to the health of your teeth and gums. I started back in 2018 and my oral health has never been better! Take a look at this guide for more info!
And there you have it folks! The jury is still very much out on whether vaping is better for your oral health than smoking! However, I think it is clear that vaping is not likely to be good for optimal oral health. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve had any teeth or gum problems while vaping!