Vaping has gained huge popularity in recent years as a supposedly safer alternative to smoking. This is echoed in the government’s forthcoming launch of the Swap-To Stop campaign, where over 1 million smokers will be given a free vaping starter kit in order to drive down smoking rates to below 5%.
Yet, vaping isn’t the ‘silver bullet’ it’s made out to be. Instead, there are many hidden dangers when people vape, particularly when it comes to oral health.
In this post, we’ll highlight some of those risks so people can better understand the pitfalls of vaping and e-cigarettes.
But first, what is vaping?
Essentially, vaping is the inhalation of vapour via an electronic device that may (or may not) contain small amounts of nicotine.
People tend to vape as part of the quitting smoking process to wean them off cigarettes or as a stress reliever. Some people (particularly the younger generation) also vape to boost their social image.
Either way, inhaling aerosolised liquids that contain flavourings and other chemicals can irritate the nose and throat and trigger a whole host of oral health problems.
With this in mind, let’s explore some of the hidden dangers.
Vaping can cause gum disease
One of the most concerning risks of vaping is the potential for gum disease. Nicotine contained within e-cigarettes constricts blood vessels which, in turn, reduces blood flow to the gums. This process can trigger inflammation, and if chemicals found in vape smoke get into the gums, it can also cause infection.
But that’s not all;
The controlled heat from an e-cigarette or vape device can also cause irritation and gum damage, thus increasing the risk of periodontal (gum disease).
Vaping causes dry mouth
Did you know a healthy mouth produces around 0.3 – 0.4 ml of saliva per minute? That’s anywhere between 0.5 and 1.5 litres per day. Saliva helps to neutralise acids, wash away food particles and eradicate harmful bacteria.
In other words, saliva is an extra layer of protection in the fight against failing oral health.
Every time we vape, it triggers a decrease in salivary output, causing a condition known as xerostomia or dry mouth.
Without sufficient saliva, the risk of tooth decay and gum disease increases dramatically.
Vaping triggers tooth decay
While you might associate sugary drinks and sweets with tooth decay, vaping also causes problems for teeth. According to a 2018 study, vaping triggers a four-fold increase in microbial adhesion to tooth enamel and a 27% decrease in enamel hardness.
In addition, since many flavourings are sweet, the aerosols produced are thought to have comparable chemical and physical properties to high-sugar sweets and fizzy drinks.
When you add this all up, it doesn’t look good for your teeth.
Vaping increases the risk of oral cancer
Perhaps the most alarming fact about vaping is that it could be a potential risk factor in the development of oral cancer. Although there is no clear evidence to support the fact that it causes oral cancer, there is evidence to support that vaping could increase the risk.
Chemicals contained within e-cigarettes, such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein, are well-known DNA disruptors that can lead to the development of cancerous cells.
Because vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, it’s important to note that any long-term effects on overall or oral health remain unknown. However, the potential risks outlined above are sufficient for long-term vaping to be concerning and, therefore, should not be taken likely.
How to protect your oral health as a vaper
While it seems that vaping does pose fewer oral health risks than traditional smoking, it’s still important to be aware of the hidden dangers and take steps to protect your oral health.
Here are some top tips to help you do exactly that:
- Practice good oral hygiene with regular and thorough brushing and flossing
- Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and hygiene cleaning
- Cut down on your vaping, or opt for a lower-nicotine or zero-nicotine liquid, and
- Drink water after you vape to prevent dry mouth.
Vaping may be deemed a safer option than smoking, which is why the government is using vaping to entice people off cigarettes. However, the potential risks to oral health remain clear and should not be ignored.
If you are a vaper and feel that you could do with a timely dental check-up, visit Foxbury Dental. Our private dental clinic in South Leicestershire provides high-quality, general and cosmetic dental care to patients of all ages.
Why not take advantage of our dental care plans starting from as little as £8.49 per month and get total peace of mind that your dental needs are met? Packages include dental check-ups, x-rays and hygiene appointments.Get in touch, and let us help you take care of your smile today!