Essential Things to Know about Vaping & Oral Health - What to Know
When it comes to vaping and oral health, many articles from both sides of the debate shows up online on Google search. Articles written by the pro-vaping side tend to downplay the effects of vaping on oral health without citing proof while articles written by those inclined against vaping tend to exaggerate the detrimental effects. Neither side is helping inform the public as they both conjure misleading claims and cherry-picked evidence that would only ruin everyone’s health and leisure. For the welfare of vapers and soon-to-be-vapers alike, here’s what you need to know about vaping and oral health.
What Does the Science Say about the Vaping Effects on Teeth and Gums?
Since vape products have only been in the market for less than two decades, studies concerning their potential oral health impacts are still limited. Thus, at best, existing research literature about vape and its effects on oral health is inconclusive. However, that doesn’t mean that vape does not have any adverse effect on the mouth. Recent preliminary studies show that there are plausible ways vape can negatively affect your mouth, particularly your gums.
A study made by a group of researchers from the University of Rochester showed the nicotine chemicals in vape can be as damaging to the cells of your gums as nicotine found in tobacco. In the study, the researchers exposed cultured gum tissue in Petri dishes to the vapours found in vape. The results, published in the journal Oncotarget in 2016, reveal that nicotine in vape triggers inflammation in the cells of gum tissue. However, the researchers themselves said that the inflammation “could lead,” but not “always lead to,” gum damage. This means that with proper oral care and vape moderation, vapers may mitigate the adverse effects of vaping on their oral health. A long-term study that would compare the oral health effects of vape between frequent and infrequent users could help establish more ground on this aspect.
In another study, a group of Italian researchers dropped vape juice on gum cells and compared the effects on gum cells that were left alone. The results of the study, published in 2017 in the Journal of Periodontology, reveal that vape juice chemicals can interfere with the normal protein production of gum cells, which can affect the functioning and strength of the gums. Note, however, that vapers don’t directly rub or drip vape juice on their gums. The vape smoke they inhale is relatively diluted of these chemicals compared to the liquid vape juice in their devices. Nonetheless, the results of this study would be clinically significant, considering reports and concerns of receding gums among vape users.
What is certain is that faulty or defective e-vape devices can explode in the mouth. Oral health clinicians have reported patients experiencing burns on the lips, removal of teeth, and jaw fractures as a result of vape explosions. In this case, vape users should be circumspect of the products they buy.
Vape Juice Can Leave Residue on Your Teeth, but Can It Cause Cavities?
There is no debate on vape products, particularly the high VG ones, leaving oil-like residues on the teeth. So some users are wondering if vape juice, or vape residue, can cause tooth decay. First, it must be clarified that even sweet-flavoured, high VG vape juice does not contain sugar. The “sweet” flavour is produced by a food-grade organic compound called an ester. Esters in themselves not edible for tooth decay-causing bacteria, even if they get stuck in your teeth. Secondly, vegetable glycerin is considered a “polar compound,” which means your saliva can break down vape juice residue in your teeth in minutes unless your mouth is totally dry.
A study published in the journal PLOS One last year by a group of American researchers suggests that the flavourings in vape smoke appear to behave as sugary and acidic food and drinks. The study does not explicitly conclude that vaping causes cavity but only show that vape users can have cavities. It should also be noted that the study never determined if the risk of cavities among vape users is higher compared to non-vape users.
Vaping Is Better Than Cigarette Smoking
Nevertheless, studies conducted up to this day indicate that vaping has relatively fewer adverse impacts on oral health compared to smoking. Vape does not contain tar that causes discolouration and tooth decay in cigarette smokers. In another research published in the Journal of Periodontology, a fewer number of e-cigarette users were found to have bleeding gums compared to tobacco smokers.
Vapers Also Have to Brush Their Teeth
Despite still limited data on the effects of vaping on oral health, there’s no doubt that you need to be on the safe side. You still need to brush your teeth regularly and mouthwash after vaping. Vape in moderation so that not much nicotine affects your gum’s health.
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