Smoking and E-Cigarettes: How Do They Affect Your Oral Health?

Smoking and E-Cigarettes: How Do They Affect Your Oral Health?

The ill-effects of smoking are well-documented. E-cigarettes or vaping seem like a great alternative to smoking a regular cigarette.

It gives the smoker the routine and habit of smoking a cigarette but without the nasty side effect. Or does it?

There is one major stumbling block with e-cigs and your oral health: the long-term effects of vaping or smoking e-cigs has not been fully studied or realized just yet.

In other words, no one knows the risks of what vaping is doing to your teeth, gums, tongue and throat. But with 2.5 million Canadians using e-cigarettes, it is time to find out more.

Who Uses E-Cigs?

A 2014 study by the University of Waterloo, Ontario produced a comprehensive set of usage figures for e-cigarette use in Canada. Disturbingly, they are popular with the younger age group, possibly storing up dental and oral health issues for the future.

Another surprising statistic is that people who have never smoked are being drawn to vaping. Concerns regarding vaping and its effects on the body are little known but this doesn’t mean there aren’t any. What it means is, it is too early to tell what the side effects on the body are.

In terms of oral health, anything we put in our mouth influences our oral health.

The Effects of Smoking on Oral Health

The vaping liquid contains many chemicals, including nicotine in many cases, and only time will tell the effect they will have on gums and teeth. It is thought by scientists that over time, the effects of vaping will be similar to the effects of smoking tobacco.

The effects of smoking and nicotine are well known. Irrespective of how nicotine is delivered in the mouth, whether through a cigarette or other means, it harms the mouth, gums and tongue.

It is known that nicotine contributes significantly to gingivitis (swollen, bleeding gums) and periodontitis, the long-term effects on untreated gum disease. As well as a sore mouth, this can lead to bad breath and inflammation in the body.

  • Receding Gums

Nicotine restricts the amount of blood that can flow in your veins. Without sufficient blood flow, the essential nutrients and oxygen are not transported to the gums making it impossible for them to stay healthy.

  • Masks Gum Disease

Nicotine hides the symptoms of gum disease thus, you may hear people say how much better their gums are since they started vaping. This is because nicotine hides the symptoms of gum disease from you and your dentist.

Irritated gums fill with blood and so when you brush or floss, they bleed. In some ways, you may think your mouth and gums are healthy but left untreated, and gum disease can become a real problem.

  • Bad Breath

Another downside of nicotine is that it restricts the amount of saliva you produce. This leaves your mouth susceptible to bacteria build up and dry mouth, as well as tooth decay, the result being bad breath.

  • Intensifies Teeth Grinding

Nicotine is also a stimulant. If you are already rind your teeth, nicotine will fire up your muscles, making it more likely you will continue to grind your teeth.

How to Look After your Teeth If You Smoke or Vape

As a smoker of tobacco, e-cigarettes or products containing nicotine, you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to changes in oral health;

  • Gum disease prevention – both you and your dentist will need to be more aware and vigilant for gum disease. As nicotine masks the symptoms, your dentist will take a reading known as a pocket reading. Pockets are like a moat around each of your teeth and are naturally present. Deeper pockets indicate a breakdown of the attachment of the gum to the teeth.
  • Brush regularly – brush your teeth twice a day using a good quality toothpaste and brush. Don’t press too hard. Using a mouthwash can also help to minimize bad breath.
  • Regular check-ups – three-monthly checkups are essential as you are three times more likely to develop gum disease if you use nicotine-containing products. As yet, there is no data on e-cigarettes and how they affect your mouth but this does not mean that they are safe to use.
  • Eliminate nicotine – as hard as this is, consider giving up smoking for good, trying various cessation techniques. If you use e-cigarettes, using non-nicotine containing liquids does not mean you will not suffer gum disease; it means you may be storing up oral health problems for the future.

In 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that as e-cigarettes had not been fully studied, users are unaware of potential risks.

Why take this risk with your oral health? Book an appointment with your dentist at Signal Hill Dental Clinic today.