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Yes, vaping is bad for your oral health. While vapes typically contain less nicotine than cigarettes, they can still severely affect your teeth, gums, and oral soft tissues.
Studies have linked vaping to oral health conditions, including:
Nicotine can restrict blood flow to the gums, reduce saliva production, and encourage bacterial growth. In rarer cases, it can burn the interior of your mouth or cause sores.
Vaping is an alternative way to consume tobacco or marijuana.
A vape is an electronic device that heats and turns a liquid into a vapor (or aerosol), which the user then inhales. Common devices include e-cigarettes (like JUUL), pens, or hookahs. The liquid used in vape devices typically contains nicotine or marijuana.
Many people use vaping as a way to quit smoking cigarettes. Others see it as a healthier alternative. It’s very common among teenagers and young adults. In a 2022 survey, 2.5 million middle and high school students in the United States reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.1
However, vaping is just as unsafe for your overall health, as well as your oral health. It can be especially detrimental for young people to vape, as their bodies are still developing.
Vaping can have many negative consequences on your teeth. It can lead to:
A 2018 study revealed that the crevices and pits of teeth exposed to e-cigarette aerosol contained higher amounts of bacteria than unexposed teeth.2
Too much bacteria in the teeth has been associated with a higher risk of gum disease, cavities, and toothaches.
Vaping devices contain nicotine, which may stain the teeth. This happens because the enamel, or the hard outer surface of the teeth, is porous. When you vape, the nicotine gets trapped inside the pores of your enamel, causing staining and discoloration.
Tooth discoloration can be yellow, brown, or black. It depends on the type of e-juice you use.
Nicotine acts as a stimulant. When it stimulates jaw muscles to contract, it may make you grind your teeth even when asleep. This is a condition called bruxism.
Bruxism can lead to tooth damage if left untreated.
Vaping also affects the gum tissue, causing:
A 2016 study showed e-cigarettes could trigger inflammatory responses in the gum tissues.3 Chronic gum inflammation has been linked to periodontal issues, such as receding gums and infections.
Vaping aerosols increase inflammation and cause DNA damage in the living cells of the gums.4 Damage to cells prevents them from growing and dividing, speeding up cell aging and leading to cell death.
DNA damage plays an important role in oral health, causing problems such as:
Nicotine acts as a vasoconstrictor, reducing blood circulation to your gum tissue. Studies show that restricted blood flow from vaping can lead to severe periodontal disease.5
Common consequences of progressive periodontal disease include deeper gum pockets, attachment and alveolar bone loss, and tooth loss.
Beyond the direct impacts on your teeth and gums, vaping can also affect other aspects of your oral health:
Nicotine and propylene glycol are both found in vaping liquid. They reduce saliva flow inside the mouth by absorbing moisture and drying tooth surfaces and tissues.
A reduction in saliva flow causes dry mouth, which leads to the accumulation of plaque/bacteria. Eventually, this buildup can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Although less common, vaping can lead to mouth burns because the lithium batteries can overheat and explode.
Vaping causes cell damage. When the mouth's lining and the palate become inflamed, it can cause painful mouth sores and oral lesions (stomatitis).
The DNA damage caused by e-cigarettes can lead to oral cancer. A 2019 study showed the increased possibility of e-cigarette users developing lung, oral, and bladder cancer.4
Vaping also increases the risk of lung injury, COPD, asthma, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease.6
Vaping and smoking cigarettes are equally bad for your teeth. While e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, the nicotine and other ingredients in vaping juice are just as harmful.
Your dentist can tell if you smoke or vape since the outcomes on your oral health are the same.
A dentist who examines your mouth may be able to tell if you vape from the following signs:
Most of the consequences of vaping on your teeth, gums, and mouth are visible in a dental exam, so you won’t be able to lie to your dentist about vaping.
People who choose to vape should be aware of the physical and oral health risks.
To help lessen the dangers of vaping, do the following:
The best way to prevent oral health issues is to quit vaping. The following are helpful tips for people who want to quit vaping or smoking:
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