What is an E-cigarette?
This is an electronic cigarette that simulates the traditional method of tobacco smoking. They come in many different shapes and sizes and are sometimes referred to as “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “vape pens” etc. Inside there is a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold a liquid that usually contains nicotine. [source]
E-cigarettes have become a popular alternative to tobacco smoking, as it is considered to be a method to assist in quitting smoking.
But the question remains… do they also have a negative effect on your oral health like tobacco cigarettes?
Effects E-cigarettes Have On Your Gums And Teeth
In comparison to traditional tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes appear to have fewer oral health risks. However, it is important to know how they affect your oral health.
Here are some issues related to vaping (the usage of e-cigarettes):
E-cigarettes normally contain propylene glycol (PG) which strips away your mouth of essential saliva causing a dry mouth. Saliva plays an important role in preventing tooth decay as it contains compounds that protect your teeth from Streptococcus mutans which cause tooth decay. [Source]
A chronic dry mouth is not only associated with tooth decay but can also cause other oral health issues such as bad breath and mouth ulcers.
Most of the time e-cigarettes contain flavorings that have different types of sugars. The impact of high sugar content on your teeth is well known. Bacteria in your mouth use the sugars to produce acids that erode the enamel on your teeth causing caries. This also increases the amount of cavity-causing bacteria resulting in more caries. [Source]
The vapor that is inhaled irritates the good bacteria in the mouth causing it to produce slime to protect itself, the bacteria no longer functions as it should and instead triggers an inflammatory response in your gums. This leads to periodontal disease if inflammation persists. [Source]
Just like in tobacco cigarettes which also contain nicotine but in higher quantities than in e-cigarettes, the gum tissue is damaged and restricts blood flow in the gums. This results in cell function deterioration which plays a role in many other oral health issues i.e. periodontal diseases, bone loss, tooth loss etc. [Source]
E-cigarettes have become more popular than traditional cigarettes. However, it is important to understand that this does not mean they do affect our oral health.
So if you or someone you know uses e-cigarettes, it would be best if you take extra care of your teeth by ensuring you visit your dentist regularly.