Think ‘Vaping’ Is Safer For Smile Than Cigarettes?

Posted on Jan 28, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

The popularity of ‘vaping,’ particularly with younger E-cigarette smokers, has sparked a growing health concern since hitting the market in 2004. This concern has motivated the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to implement a study on the effects of vaping’s aerosol mix to tissues in the mouth, lungs and airway structures.

The study, slated to begin in February 2016, will not focus on the effects of nicotine but of the impact of vaporized chemical delivery to tissues. Studying the effects of long-term chemical exposure to tissues through this means will hopefully provide a more accurate assessment of their safety.

Unlike traditional cigarettes, E-cigarettes use a moist vapor to deliver a mix of nicotine, formaldehyde and other chemicals.  Because oral tissues are moist by nature, the water vapor that is inhaled is readily absorbed by soft tissues in the mouth.

Prior research has shown that nicotine is harmful to oral health, regardless of how it arrives — cigarettes, snuff, chew and now vaping. Nicotine is known to have a drying effect on oral tissues, which decreases saliva that helps rid food particles and bacteria from the mouth. When drying agents deplete saliva, oral bacteria reproduce more rapidly. This increases the risk for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Because nicotine also constricts blood vessels in the mouth, it compromises the ability of oral tissues to heal. This is why we advise patients to stop smoking following extractions or implant placement so healing is not slowed. ‘Vapers’ should also be concerned about the bad breath associated with dry mouth, if nothing else.

The misconceptions about vaping’s safety may be to the detriment of your smile. Hopefully, the findings of this research will reveal the true level of risk so users can adjust their oral care commitment accordingly.

In the meantime, if you smoke, vape, chew or dip, pay particular attention to your oral health. Be especially committed to your oral hygiene at home as well as your 6-month dental check-ups. These visits can help you maintain a healthy mouth and avoid problems – or catch those that occur at their earliest stages.

If you feel your oral health has been neglected or compromised due to smoking, chewing, or vaping, call 828-274-9440 to schedule an appointment. And relax, we’re a ‘lecture-free’ zone!

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