By now, we all know smoking tobacco is bad for our teeth and mouths. Smoking drastically increases your risk for oral cancer, causes more dental plaque, chronic bad breath, and an increased chance of gum disease. But that’s why they invented e-cigarettes, right? Sorry, but no. New research shows vaping is bad for your teeth in much the same way as smoking traditional cigarettes.
Over the past few years, sales of e-cigarettes skyrocketed, while the use of traditional cigarettes continues declining. Since there is no tobacco, vaping is sometimes viewed as a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. But tobacco or not, vaping is just as bad for your teeth, mouth and body.
What is Vaping and Why is it Bad for My Teeth and Body?
To help you understand how vaping is bad for teeth, let’s take a minute to break down the mechanics of it.
Vaping simply means smoking an e-cigarette. We say vaping because, unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t produce tobacco smoke. Instead, e-cigarettes use an aerosol, or vapor, to deliver nicotine into the lungs.
The aerosol produced by e-cigarettes is often mistaken for a harmless water vapor. Hence the myth that vaping isn’t bad for the teeth and body. But this vapor contains not only nicotine, which is bad for the teeth and body on its own, but also ultra-fine particles of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Many of these chemicals are linked to cancer, respiratory disease, and heart disease.
Ready to Buy Dental Insurance?
This article is very high-level information. We recommend you always review plan details and get a quote before you purchase a dental insurance plan. We offer 5 plans with different coverage and monthly premiums.
Health Risks of Vaping
E-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, but they still contain nicotine, which has plenty of health consequences all on its own. In addition to being addictive, researchers now believe nicotine itself has a role in causing cancer. Studies show the nicotine inhaled through vaping increases your risk of cancer by damaging your DNA.
Nicotine and e-cigarettes also promote tumor growth in the following types of cancer:
- Lung cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Breast Cancer
While vaping hasn’t been around long, early studies of its effects are concerning. Short-term data shows vaping:
- Impacts the health of your lungs
- Damages your blood cells
- Increases your risk of heart disease
- Negatively impacts your immune system
Vaping and Your Teeth
That nicotine again. Not your friend. Here are some specific reasons vaping is bad for your teeth, gums and overall oral health.
Nicotine reduces blood flow, which in turn affects your teeth and gums. Without enough blood flowing through your veins, your gums don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. In this way, vaping causes the death of gum tissues, which in turn causes gum recession.
Severely receding gums lead to tooth sensitivity, increased risk of cavities and, in some cases loss of teeth. One strike against vaping and the health of your teeth.
Dry mouth, bacteria, and tooth decay
Nicotine from e-cigarettes also reduces the saliva in your mouth. Lack of saliva leads to dry mouth, plaque buildup, increased bacteria, and ultimately tooth decay. Strike two for vaping and tooth health.
Bruxism and tooth damage
Nicotine inhaled during vaping acts as a muscle stimulant. This can cause you to grind your teeth (bruxism) or make the problem worse if you are already a tooth grinder. Grinding, gnashing, or clenching your teeth regularly leads to tooth damage and other oral health complications.
Three strikes and you’re out — vaping is bad for your teeth.
Vaping and Gum Disease
Studies suggest vaping also increases your risk of gum disease. The nicotine from vaping causes gum inflammation and swelling. Swollen gums combined with dry mouth and increased bacteria is a recipe for gum disease.
If you vape, watch for these common symptoms of gum disease:
- Ongoing bad breath (halitosis)
- Red, irritated, or bleeding gums
- Tender or swollen gums
- Wiggly teeth or loss of teeth
- Receding gums
The Final Word: Is Vaping Bad for Your Teeth?
Although e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, vaping still poses health risks similar to smoking tobacco. This includes risks to your body, teeth, and mouth. It is a misconception to believe that e-cigarettes are healthier than tobacco cigarettes, or that vaping isn’t bad for your teeth.
If you’re a smoker or vaper, stay on top of your oral health and schedule regular dental checkups.
Glantz, Stanton A. First evidence of long-term health damage from ecigs: Smoking E-Cigarettes Daily Doubles Risk of Heart Attacks. UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education Press Release. Feb 24, 2018.
Mishra, Aseem, et al. Harmful effects of nicotine. Indian Journal of Medical and Pediatric Oncology. 2015 Jan-Mar; 36(1): 24–31. doi: 10.4103/0971-5851.151771
This blog post was last updated October 3, 2019