Last updated on February 26th, 2018
Most smokers are aware that smoking is bad for their health. The increased chances of developing heart disease and lung cancer are well documented, while asthma, COPD and strokes are just some of the other problems smokers are more likely to be afflicted by. Add in dental problems such as bad breath, yellow teeth, gum disease and even tooth loss and the picture isn’t remotely pretty.
The Question Here Is – Does Vaping Pose the Same Level of Threat to Health?
The short answer is no, although there are people out there who would struggle to believe that. In many cases this is simply because they are unaware of, or don’t understand, the differences between smoking cigarettes and vaping.
As e-cigarettes emerged into the mainstream market several moral panics were hot on their heels. Concerns about youngsters taking up the habit, or the unknown health risks to both users and those around them, stirred emotions, and at times made a villain out of vaping.
As time passes, new evidence has challenged early concerns, so vaping has become more acceptable; even members of the medical profession recognize its benefits in particular situations.
Based on what is known right now about vaping it is fair to say that it poses nothing like the health risk to humans that smoking cigarettes does. However, can we really claim it is not bad for your teeth? Let’s look at the evidence.
The Fundamental Differences Between Smoking and Vaping
It is important to see these are completely different, even if someone vapes using a device labeled as an e-cigarette.
Smoking produces smoke, and vaping creates vapour, formed from warming a liquid known as ‘e-juice’ or ‘e-liquid’. The liquid used contains no added chemicals or tobacco, and the device used runs on power supplied by a battery. Cigarettes, on the other hand, need to be ignited before burning and producing direct heat fuelled by fire. They also include thousands of chemicals, tobacco, tar and noxious smoke.
How Do Cigarettes Affect Oral Health?
Yellowing teeth, bad breath, and build ups of plaque are much more than simple nuisances which impact on your confidence when you smile or speak. In fact, they are important signals that something is wrong inside your mouth.
Your once white teeth, now re-painted in a stunning shade labeled ‘tar sludge’, with the colour sealed in by the heat produced by a burning tobacco stick, may be more of a cosmetic concern.
Unfortunately though, the ‘dirty ashtray’ breath, dry mouth and excess tartar are symptoms of bad bacteria being present. This in turn can lead to gum disease and tooth loss, and even heart disease, as well as slowing down the natural repair process of damaged wounds and tissue.
Vaping, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to cause problems with unpleasant breath or stained teeth, but there is the presence of nicotine to consider.
How Harmful is Nicotine to Your Teeth?
A popular pro-vape strategy involves mentioning the poisons and chemicals a regular cigarette contains, compared to the much simpler e-liquids, which are chemical free. However, most e-juice does contain nicotine, in levels ranging from very low to high. It would be naive to assume that nicotine has no negative effects on our body, so is it possible that vaping still poses a danger to the health of our teeth?
Nicotine Negatives Are More Manageable
Fillings and root canals are unpleasant, but the biggest threat to teeth is gum disease. This is responsible for pain, infections and tooth loss, so keeping your gums healthy and happy should be a priority.
Nicotine is known to reduce blood flow, which in turn means fewer nutrients reach the gums, making it harder for the mouth to self-clean and kill harmful bacteria. Overall then, it seems likely that however you consume it, nicotine increases the chance of developing gum problems.
Still, it’s fairer to say that while nicotine inhalation does carry a risk, it can be managed, making it a much lower one than cigarette smokers face. Plus, anyone who chooses to vape with a zero nicotine e-liquid will remove the problem entirely.
Tips On Reducing Nicotine Exposure
Vaping delivers much less nicotine than a cigarette with each inhalation, which is a nice advantage to have, but beware of being complacent. Any amount of nicotine can cause a problem, so even though the risk is so much lower, it is important to be proactive with your oral health care practices. This means:
- Having regular checks at the dentist. Professionals can spot potential problems much easier and earlier than most of us.
- Introduce and stick to a good oral hygiene routine. Ask your dentist for tips on how to brush and floss correctly – or check out a few videos online.
- Educate yourself on the signs of typical mouth and gum problems so you know what to watch out for.
- Don’t ignore problems. Catching things early reduces the stress and cost down the road.
- Reduce the level of nicotine you are exposed to by switching to a smaller, less powerful vaping device, and choosing e-juice with lower levels of nicotine. Or for complete peace of mind you could try vaping a zero nicotine liquid.
The answer to the initial question of whether vaping is bad for your teeth is not as clear cut as people on either side of the debate may wish to have you believe.
Overall though, based on the evidence currently available it is fair to say that vaping is much less of a danger to your teeth than smoking cigarettes, and in some cases, (say when using 0% nicotine e-liquids), it causes no obvious problems at all. So while inhaling nicotine does carry some potential for damage, the effects of this can be minimised greatly with little effort.