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Vaping and oral health

Gaining popularity as “the safe” alternative to cigarette smoking, vaping is the inhaling of a vapor created by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or other vaping device.  One recent study revealed that 57% of these vapers are non-smokers while 43% were dual users. Vaping increases in countries where nicotine vaping is supported. In the US, 4.5% vape while 6.2% of UK residents vape.

Is it a safe alternative as indicated?

Vaping is predominantly marketed as a safe alternative to tobacco smoke. Compared to cigarette smoking, vaping appears to pose fewer risks including to your oral health. Even so, it does have a negative effect on your overall oral health and teeth. The increasing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping are the grounds for continued research, however, the long-term effects are still somewhat unknown.

A publication in the Oncotarget revealed that researchers found that e-cigarette vapour’s chemicals were as damaging to mouth cells as traditional tobacco smoke.

The limited data on the negatives of vaping caused a team of researchers from the New York University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry to address this. The gums of non-smokers were exposed to vapour from menthol and tobacco flavoured liquids.

The menthol flavoured liquid contained either zero or between 13 to 16 mg nicotine. The tobacco-flavoured contained zero or 16 mg of nicotine. It was found that this exposure did the same damage to gum tissue as that of traditional tobacco smoke. It was found that menthol flavoured vapour did the most harm to cells.

The biggest concern, however, is the carrier product, propylene glycol (PG). This is used in food processing and polymer production. You will find it present in edible items like whipped dairy, ice cream and liquid sweeteners. It is also present in inhalant pharmaceutical products and a major ingredient of vapour juices.

When used orally during vaping it damages soft tissue and is toxic to enamel due to its propionaldehyde, lactic acid and acetic acid breakdown. This combination leads to tissue desiccation that leads to dry mouth, which leads to increased gum disease, cavities and oral health issues.