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Why E-Cigarettes Are Bad for Your Teeth

Vaping can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease
Read Time: 4 minutes
Dec 21, 2022

Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes or mods, are often used as an aid in quitting 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.

What Is Vaping?

a man with a bead vaping with an e-cigarette outside in a backyard

Vaping is the smoking of an e-cigarette, which many believe to be a healthier alternative to cigarettes because they do not contain tobacco. However, they do still contain other harmful substances that can negatively impact your oral health. The CDC lists these harmful substances as the following:

  • Nicotine
  • Diacetyl and other flavorings linked to lung cancer
  • Heavy metals (such as tin, lead, and nickel)
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Ultrafine particles that can get deep into the lungs
  • Other cancer-causing chemicals

Are E-Cigarettes as Bad as Real Cigarettes?

a man holding an e-cigarette in one hand and regular cigarettes in the other hand

E-cigarettes are not good for your health. Many of the same risks of real cigarettes also apply to e-cigarettes. However, e-cigarettes contain fewer harmful chemicals than real cigarettes do, so while they still pose a health problem, they’re not as bad as regular cigarettes.

How Do E-Cigarettes Affect Your Oral Health?

E-cigarettes are bad for your health overall but there are some specific ways in which they are bad for your oral health in particular. 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.

Issue #1

Vaping Can Cause Dry Mouth

Saliva plays a major role in keeping your teeth protected and healthy. It not only washes away bacteria and food particles that can get stuck on your teeth but it also helps to protect your enamel. Vaping can cause dry mouth, which removes that protection, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Issue #2

Vaping Can Increase the Risk of Gum Disease

E-cigarette vapor is created by heating a liquid mixture of nicotine, flavoring, and a diluent such as vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol. 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.

Issue #3

Vaping Can Cause Bad Breath

a young man with a beard breathing into his hand to check for bad breath

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.

Issue #4

Vaping Can Hide Gum Disease

a close-up on a person’s mouth with gum disease

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.

Issue #5

Vaping Can Cause Teeth Grinding

a sleeping woman grinding her teeth

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.

Issue #6

Vaping Can Discolor Your Teeth

a woman with yellow teeth who is smoking a cigarette

Tobacco isn’t the only part of cigarettes that can discolor your teeth. Nicotine also has that effect, which means that vaping can cause your teeth to stain.

Issue #7

Vaping Can Increase the Risk of Cavities

Many e-cigarettes are flavored and contain chemicals that are reminiscent of sucrose. For the same reason that sugary foods and drinks are bad for your teeth, so is vaping. The flavoring and other chemicals in the e-cigarettes can increase the production of bacteria in your mouth, which would wear away at your enamel and cause tooth decay.

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