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Is Vaping Bad for Your Teeth? How Does It Affect Oral Hygiene?

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Is vaping bad for your teeth? This question is increasingly on the minds of health officials and those who have taken to smoking e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, this ‘healthier' alternative to smoking does negatively affect teeth health and oral hygiene.

vaping oral health
Vaping is bad for your oral health

Another problem is that many users of e-cigarettes are high school students who are significantly less informed about vaping and its side effects on teeth and gum health.

Many would-be smokers have turned to e-cigarettes because most people presume that such products are safer than actual cigarettes. The reality, however, is somewhat different.

If you’ve ever wondered how vaping affects oral hygiene and overall health, this article if for you. Here, we will cover the basics and answer common questions including:

  • Does vaping cause bad breath?
  • How long after tooth extraction can I vape?
  • Can vaping cause canker sores?
  • Does vaping hurt your teeth?
  • How to whiten stained teeth

Stay tuned as we look through these issues in detail.

What is vaping?

Vaping technology was patented way back in 1960 but it failed to take off at the time. Today, vaping devices have gained popularity particularly because of better marketing strategies and social media trends.

Vaping devices look like pens

Modern vaping devices usually look like pens and are often marketed with tempting flavors like mint, cotton candy, coffee, and Bavarian cream. Needless to say, it makes such products particularly appealing to the younger generations. These portable devices use battery generated heat to convert e-liquids into vapors.

Is vaping bad for your teeth?

It may sound like a good alternative to cigarettes, but many people, especially our younger generations are not aware of the health hazards of such devices. According to this report from the U.S department of health and human services, the use of vaping products saw a staggering 900 percent rise among high school students between the years 2011 and 2015.

But the reality is, research has shown that flavored e-cigarettes and vaping devices contain harmful ingredients that can have adverse effects on your oral health. A few ingredients in e-cigarettes which can affect teeth and gum health negatively include:

Propylene Glycol (PG)

Propylene Glycol (PG), is a colorless odorless synthetic and is noxious for tooth enamel and soft tissues. Our mouths are highly absorbent to PG and it can cause irreversible damage to teeth enamel and gums leading to tooth decay and receding gums. The absorption is so severe that it can even penetrate into our blood flow, causing damage to our primary organs like kidney and liver (although the damage to organs might happen as a result of several overdoses within a period of time). PG tends to absorb moisture and is a common cause of dry mouth when it reacts with saliva molecules. Because of its hydroscopic chemical composition, PG also leads to tissue damage.

Vegetable Glycerin (VG)

One of the most common ingredients of e-cigarettes, Vegetable Glycerin (VG), is a clear liquid typically synthesized from soybean or coconut. VG blends as 60 percent as sweet as sucrose, and when combined with flavor agents in e-liquid, it becomes a primary cause of cavities among vaping users. It creates a favorable environment for cavity-causing bacteria to grow and cause damage to your teeth.

Nicotine

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical and is a well-known cause of stained teeth among smokers. While the potency of nicotine can be much lower in vapes, it still causes tooth discoloration among its users. Nicotine becomes brown instantly when it comes into contact with oxygen. The porous nature of human teeth enamel furthers the oxidation of nicotine. It enables the absorption of the discoloring pigments causing significant staining of teeth over extended use of vaping products. With prolonged use, a person with stained teeth may need professional help to get their white teeth back. In addition to causing stained teeth, Nicotine also causes dry mouth as a result of reduced flow of saliva.

For a summary of why vaping is bad for, you can watch the video below:

Does vaping cause bad breath?

A common opinion among vaping users is that it is much better as compared to conventional tobacco products as far as poor oral hygiene and bad breath are concerned. However, this isn't entirely true.

Vaping usually involves inhaling vapors that are generated after heating e-liquids. These e-liquids contain toxic chemicals like Propylene Glycol and Nicotine which cause dry mouth symptoms leading to a build-up of bad bacteria in the mouth, the primary cause of bad breath.

There may be a significant difference between the severity of bad breath emanating from vapes as compared to tobacco products, but it’s not completely eliminated. The bottom line is, people do suffer from bad breath as a common consequence of vaping.

How long after tooth extraction can I vape?

It’s a general recommendation from doctors to stop smoking before and after any form of dental surgery. Vapes are often marketed as safer alternatives to smoking, but the directives from the healthcare sector are the same. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), vapes pose risk to oral health and may lead to many complications if used after surgery.

Nicotine, a prime constituent of e-liquid, can lead to poor wound healing and several complications, including infection after surgery. Vaping after a tooth extraction is something you should stay away from for at least 72 hours since that will lead to fewer chances of infection and dry socket. In fact, the longer you can resist using e-cigarettes after surgery, the better from a recovery point of view.

We would suggest you be completely honest about your vaping habits with your dentist when going for a consultation for tooth extraction.

Can vaping cause canker sores?

canker sore on the tongue
Vaping can cause canker sores or mouth ulcers

Canker sores, also referred to as stomatitis in medical terms, are mouth ulcers that can be caused by stress, acidic foods, injury, allergic reactions, toxic substances, and poor oral hygiene. Vaping is another major cause of inflammation and ulcers in the mouth due to the high temperature produced by vapes. This comparative study between former smokers and E-cigarette users found that vape users are more susceptible to ulcers and inflammation.

On the one hand, where vaping may result in inflammation and mouth ulcers, its regular use also hampers the recovery of such ulcers. The chemicals present in vapes can slow the recovery process because of their toxic nature. Canker sores are usually used to refer to all kinds of mouth ulcers, but you may encounter other forms of them too like cold sores or Herpes stomatitis and Nicotine stomatitis.

How to minimize the effects of vaping on your oral hygiene

The best trick to cut down on the effects of vaping on oral hygiene is to stay away from it as much as possible. However, if quitting vaping is out of the question, then you should follow some of the below-mentioned steps to maintain good oral health:

  • Try options like nicotine-free e-liquids that you can use to eliminate the effects of vaping on your oral health.
  • Regularly drink water after you vape to avoid dry mouth. Keeping yourself hydrated will help with foul breath.
  • Optimize your bedtime routine for oral health. You should always brush and floss before going to bed.
  • Regular visits to a dentist should be on top of your list of priorities. These visits will enable early diagnosis of any oral health issues that you might be suffering from.
  • Try whitening to get rid of stains, either professionally or at home.

How to whiten teeth stained by vaping

Thankfully, there are a lot of things you can do to get rid of vaping stains on your teeth. We'll briefly go over some of them now.

Professional teeth whitening

Profession teeth whitening is done at the dentist's office. This is a good option if you're also concerned about oral hygiene, because before the professional procedure, your dentist will clean your teeth and gums.

Normally a professional procedure will include bleaching agents, and UV light or argon lasers. You can read more about professional teeth whitening in our full account here.

Home whitening products and kits

If you want to see results but you're not too keen on the hefty price tag that professional whitening can have, home whitening kits may be your best option. These kits can include whitening strips, gels or LED whitening kits.

Snow is one type of LED kit that we recommend for professional results at a lower price. If it sounds like something you might be interested in, you can find out more about Snow and why it's so successful.

Home remedies

Home remedies can include the following:

Find out more about home whitening solutions for teeth stained by vaping in our article here. And have a look at the following table for a summary of your options.

Treatment type Treatment name Average cost
Home remedies Baking soda and Hydrogen peroxide $7
Lemon juice/Turmeric powder/strawberries Check your pantry!
Professional teeth whitening In-clinic procedures $300–$1,000
Over-the-counter Teeth whitening strips, gels, and kits $15–$400
Teeth whitening toothpastes like Plus White $20–$25

Conclusion

Dental experts regularly warn people about the oral health issues vaping might pose. This detailed study highlights health issues that vaping might pose even to people smoking for the first time. Here’s a quick look at the oral health problems that vaping might lead to:

  • Tooth decay and tooth loss
  • Bad breath
  • Gum disease or periodontal disease
  • Receding gums and damage to the gum tissue
  • Inflammation and mouth ulcers

People who regularly vape should let go of the notion that it is a safer alternative to smoking just because it doesn’t involve tobacco. The reality is that some effects of the habit are even more alarming than smoking, like the chemical composition of some of the ingredients used in e-liquids. Although studies related to vaping are still in the early stages, its effects on oral hygiene are evident. If quitting vaping isn't a realistic option for you, then you must dedicate even more time to your oral health and hygiene, and visit the dentist more often.

FAQs

Does vaping stain teeth?

Vaping causes yellow stained teeth

Yes. The main culprit behind yellow teeth from vaping is the nicotine present in e-liquids. Nicotine turns into a brown-colored particle when it reacts with oxygen and gets absorbed deep into the teeth because of the porous nature of the tooth enamel. This, in turn, leads to discolored teeth.

Does vaping cause tooth decay?

Certain chemicals present in the e-liquid solution of vapes are hazardous for our oral health.  Tooth decay, and ultimately tooth loss, is one of the primary consequences of vaping. Propylene Glycol, a colorless chemical that is one of the main constituents of e-liquid, gets absorbed in our tooth enamel and can cause significant tooth decay over time. Another constituent of e-liquid, Nicotine, reduces the flow of saliva in the mouth which acts as a protective layer for tooth enamel, leading to dry mouth symptoms.

Do vapes hurt your teeth?

Vape vapors often contain harmful toxic chemical compounds that can damage gum tissues. When consumed regularly, they can lead to gums receding with increased tooth sensitivity and cavities that can cause irreversible damage to your oral health. In such cases, it is always advised to consult a dentist right away. If professional help is not taken, you might even lose your teeth in the long run.  

Can doctors tell if you vape?

Of course they can! While some indications are very evident, like stained teeth and foul smell, doctors have other ways too of telling if you smoke. Simple medical tests can be conducted to prove the presence of nicotine in people's urine, blood, saliva, hair, and nails.

Can the effects of vaping on teeth be removed?

While it is challenging to remove tooth stains caused due to vaping, there are several home remedies, tooth whitening products, home kits, and professional solutions that can help you get your sparkly white smile back.

Is Vaping Bad for Your Teeth? How Does It Affect Oral Hygiene?
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Contributors:
Sukriti Taneja
Sukriti Taneja
Sukriti Taneja on EmailSukriti Taneja on FacebookSukriti Taneja on InstagramSukriti Taneja on LinkedinSukriti Taneja on Twitter
Sukriti is a content writer specializing in the healthcare niche. She is an ex-software engineer who's given up IT for writing full-time. She's been writing for 7 years and regularly creates optimized and targeted content for multiple domains including health, technology, education, entertainment, and more.
Sources
e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov: E-cigarette use among Youth and Young Adults. Consulted 25th March 2020. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov: Toxicology of E-Cigarette Constituents. Consulted 25th March 2020. health.com: Is Vaping Bad for Your Teeth? Here’s What Dental Experts Have to Say. Consulted 27th March 2020. healthline.com: How does vaping affect your teeth and gums? Consulted 28th March 2020 spirale.net: Stomatitis – What Is It And What Does Vaping Have To Do With It? Consulted 28th March 2020. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov: Health impact of E-cigarettes. Consulted 30th March 2020. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov: Aldehydes in Exhaled Breath during E-Cigarette Vaping. Consulted 30th March 2020. askthedentist.com: Vaping & Oral Health: Bad Breath, Receding Gums, Teeth Grinding, and More. Consulted 1st April 2020.
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