Effects of vaping on overall well-being and healthy dental practices

Q3 Word of Mouth newsletter 2022

Electronic cigarettes are becoming popular among adolescents and young adults — but not to wean themselves off nicotine. Instead, these young users see vaping as “cool” and rationalize that e-cigarettes are less risky to their health than traditional cigarettes. 

That is not the case. Since e-cigarettes entered the mainstream in 2007, studies have uncovered the harmful effects of vaping. They’ve identified new irritants not found in traditional cigarette smoking that harm oral health and overall well-being. The synthetic and natural chemicals interfere with brain development and the ability to focus. It can cause general learning disabilities, uncontrollable mood swings and impulsive behavior. Vaping is also linked to asthma and lung disease.

How vaping impairs oral health
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat liquid laced with nicotine. The liquid turns to vapor, which the user inhales. Synthetic and chemical substances enter the body and cause several oral issues. Here is a rundown of substances and their damaging effects:

Substance Action Causation
Propylene glycol Easily absorbs into the tooth and gums
  • Limits saliva production and contributes to dry mouth
  • Can cause gingivitis, periodontitis, gum recession and tooth loss
Vegetable glycerin Creates a nourishment on the tooth for existing oral bacteria
  • Increases dental plaque
  • Decreases enamel hardness 
  • Can cause dental decay and stomatitis
Nicotine Penetrates the porous structure of the tooth’s enamel
  • Contributes to moderate to severe tooth discoloration
  • Can reduce blood flow in and around the gums and weaken the healing process of infections and wounds 
  • May instigate bruxism, which can lead to temporomandibular joint dysfunction and myofascial pain syndrome

How you can help
Educating patients, particularly adolescent and young adult users, about the effects of vaping on their oral health is paramount. You can share the following practices to help patients delay or minimize the impact of vaping on their oral health:

  • Limit nicotine intake
  • Drink generous amounts of water after vaping
  • Rinse with a mouthwash 
  • Brush teeth twice daily and after vaping
  • Floss teeth and gums before bed
  • Visit a dental professional for an assessment of tooth decay and gum conditions

—Leonard Weiss, DMD