We all know someone who vapes. You see the little e-cigarettes everywhere from clubs to people puffing on them on their morning commute.
While the smell of watermelon flavoured chemicals may be more pleasant than smoke for those of us passing by, it’s not necessarily much better for your oral health than straight cigarettes.
Those gorgeous pearly whites of yours are likely to be suffering if you’re vaping frequently.
In fact, dentist Dr Raj Juneja from the Face Teeth Smile Dental Clinic gave Metro some slightly terrifying insight into the effects vaping can have on your teeth and gum health.
Studies have indicated that vaping can have detrimental effects on oral health.
‘The inhalation of aerosol from e-cigarettes exposes the mouth and teeth to various harmful substances, including nicotine, flavourings, and other chemicals,’ he says.
‘These substances can irritate the oral tissues, leading to dry mouth, inflammation, and increased risk of gum disease.
‘Moreover, nicotine, a highly addictive substance found in most e-cigarettes, can constrict blood vessels, impairing blood flow to the gums and affecting their ability to heal.’
Dr Khaled Kasem, chief orthodontist at orthodontics chain Impress, also has concerns. Below, he explains exactly how those little puffs can damage your smile:
Vapes contain a lot of chemicals, such as propylene glycol, says Dr Kasem. ‘These chemicals, when consumed, can cause dry mouth, as they reduce the production of saliva. Saliva is vital for neutralising the acids that sit on the teeth. Reducing the amount of saliva produced will increase the risk of developing cavities. If not treated correctly, this can lead to tooth decay, or in some cases tooth loss!’
Exposing gums to a hot, drying vapour will cause irritation and increase the risk of gum disease, Dr Kasem adds. ‘The common symptoms of gum disease are bleeding, swelling of the gums and in some cases, tooth loss. However, nicotine restricts the blood flow, so early signs of gum disease are often not noticed amongst those who vape, meaning the risk of developing a much more severe case of gum disease is much higher in those who vape than those who don’t.’
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Don’t forget nicotine is a stimulant that often causes tooth grinding, also known as bruxism. ‘Those who frequently grind and apply too much stress to their teeth, more often than not, will develop jaw disorders, headaches, flattened or fractured teeth, increased tooth sensitivity and even tooth loss in some cases,’ says Dr Kasem.
Damage tooth enamel
The main function of tooth enamel is to protect teeth from any damage. Many flavoured vapes contain sweeteners and can be quite acidic, which can weaken the enamel on the teeth.
‘Once the enamel is damaged there is no going back,’ warns Dr Kasem, ‘leaving the mouth vulnerable to bacteria and the catalyst of a range of oral health problems, such as cavities, tooth decay and tooth sensitivity.’
If you’re going through invisible aligner treatment, it’s important to refrain from vaping whilst wearing your invisible aligners. ‘This is because nicotine often lingers in the mouth, which can cause discolour to the aligner trays, therefore increasing the risk of causing discoloration to the teeth too,’ Dr Kasem explains.
‘There are still many studies needed to be conducted when it comes to vaping and the impact it has on oral health. The best way to try and negate the negative effects vaping can have on oral health is to try and limit any nicotine intake, keep teeth clean, and drink plenty of water.’
For Dr Juneja, one of his largest concerns around vaping is how they’ve become popular among young adults, and ‘even those under the age of 18’.
‘Many young individuals mistakenly believe that vaping is completely safe, unaware of the potential risks associated with it,’ he says.
‘Unfortunately, this misperception can lead to a lack of awareness about the potential consequences of vaping, including its impact on oral health.
‘Given the potential public health concerns associated with vaping, it is crucial for the government to take action and regulate the sale and use of these products.
‘Implementing stricter regulations can help minimize access to vaping products by minors, ensuring that young individuals are adequately informed about the risks.’
Vaping fast facts:
Half a billion vapes are bought each year in the UK
About 3 million vapes per week thrown away, per annum this is enough to cover 22 football pitches
Roughly 37% of people who bought vapes in the last year bought a single-use vape, and this increases to 52% for 18-34 year olds
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