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Are E-Cigarettes As Bad for Your Dental Health as Smoking?

Sep 18, 2018

Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes or mods, are often used as an aid to quit smoking. E-cigarettes are considered by many to be a safer alternative to smoking, but the truth is that there have not been enough scientific studies performed to be completely sure of the short and long-term effects of “vaping.” Some evidence has shown that there are oral health risks associated with e-cigarettes, however.

Vapor Causes Stress to Gums

E-cigarette vapor is created by heating a liquid mixture of nicotine, flavoring, and a diluent such as vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol. In a study done by researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, it was discovered that the vapor causes the same type of damage to the cells of the gums as tobacco smoke. This could make the gums more susceptible to diseases and infections.

Effects of Nicotine on Oral Health

While e-cigarette liquid is free from tobacco, most varieties still contain nicotine. Unfortunately, nicotine can impact several areas of oral health. Nicotine constricts the flow of blood and oxygen to the gums and acts as a stimulant, both of which can cause issues with dental health.

Decreased Blood Flow

The decreased blood flow caused by nicotine can decrease saliva production, allowing bacteria and plaque to build up and cause cavities and other problems. Bad breath may be an indication of decreased saliva production. Receding gums can also be caused by decreased blood flow.

Unfortunately, decreased blood flow can mask periodontal disease. Since the blood isn’t flowing to the area as normal, the inflammation response will be suppressed and the gums won’t bleed as they normally would when periodontal disease is present and you brush or floss. This can trick dentists into believing that you don’t have periodontal disease and limit your awareness of the problem.

Tooth Grinding and Jaw Clenching

Since nicotine is a stimulant, it can cause jaw clenching and tooth grinding or can intensify these issues if they were already present. Clenching and grinding can cause jaw pain and may even damage the teeth and injure the gums. While e-cigarettes might not contain tar and other harmful substances, they still contain nicotine, which can cause these issues.

While quitting smoking is a good move for dental and overall health, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with e-cigarettes if you’ll be using this as a quit aid. E-cigarettes shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement for cigarettes, but rather as a way to gradually ease away from any sort of nicotine use. You should also continue to visit your Jacksonville dentist regularly to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.