Vaping – What it’s doing to your oral health

added on: June 27, 2022
For decades, it has been known that using tobacco products is seriously harmful to overall health. Smokers (of any form) are highly susceptible to having a dry mouth. Without a sufficient flow of saliva, bacteria in the mouth breed at a much faster rate.
In addition to high risks for periodontal (gum) disease, tobacco use can interfere with the body’s ability to fight infection. This includes infection in the gums. The bacteria from gum disease can also worsen existing health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
Other negative effects of tobacco on oral health include:
• Tooth staining
• Loss of tooth enamel
• Gum recession
• Tooth loss
• Oral cancer
While the hazards of tobacco are more widely known, the rapid growth of vaping as a “safe” alternative to cigarettes is putting our nation’s oral health at risk. E-cigarettes are anything but safe.
Studies show that the vapor in e-cigs contains chemicals that are able to change the healthy bacteria in your mouth. Findings indicate “vapers” develop a unique bacteria blend that creates a higher risk for gum disease and a higher degree of oral destruction over time.
There has been such concern about the effects of vaping that a National Youth Tobacco Survey released concerning numbers in its 2021 report.
In 2021, approximately, over 13% of high school students reported using a tobacco product. Students were asked about their use of different types of tobacco products, with e-cigarettes being the most common. This was followed by cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and hookahs.
On a positive note, the report showed that nearly two-thirds (65.3%) of students who were current users of any tobacco product wanted to quit, and 60.2% had stopped using all products for over a day in an effort to quit.
Still, cigarette smokers are at the highest risk when it comes to oral health problems. Recently, research conducted at NYU College of Dentistry studied the oral health of 84 adults. The study included cigarette smokers, e-cigarette users, and people who have never smoked. Participants were given periodic dental exams along with monitoring of gum health. During the course of the study, samples of the bacteria in plaque were analyzed.
While all participants had some level of gum disease when the 6-month study began, cigarette smokers had the most severe disease, followed by e-cigarette users, at its conclusion. The researchers also observed that the healthy attachment of gum tissues was significantly worse only in users of e-cigs. This was not the case for nonsmokers or even cigarette smokers.
“Attachment” of gum tissues is important. When gum disease causes oral tissues to loosen from the base of teeth, the gums can recede and form pockets. Bacteria accumulates in these pockets, which can lead to more severe levels of gum disease.
When it comes to marijuana, your smile is also battling the odds of being healthy. With more states legalizing marijuana use, it’s important to know that toxins are present in cannabis. These toxins are absorbed into the bloodstream, affecting the body’s ability to combat oral inflammation caused by the buildup of oral bacteria. Marijuana can also cause dry mouth, which can increase plaque.
Marijuana may also cause additional risks that some people are unaware. For instance, the action of deeply inhaling marijuana smoke and holding it means the volume of intake is up to four times higher than with tobacco. This results in more poisonous carbon monoxide and tar entering the lungs.
Too, the tar in a marijuana joint contains many of the same carcinogens as tobacco smoke. These concentrations can be up to 50 percent higher in the smoke of a cannabis cigarette. For example, smoking just three joints a day can cause the same damage to the lungs as a pack of 20 cigarettes.
If you smoke: In addition to being especially committed to a thorough regimen of oral hygiene at home, regular dental check-ups and cleanings are important. Ask about using a prescription-level fluoride toothpaste and an oral rinse that replenishes moisture.
If you have tender gums or see blood in the sink when you brush, these are signs of gum disease. This disease will not get better without treatment. For smokers, it can progress to advanced levels at a rather rapid pace.
As a dentist for over 25 years, I’ve always cautioned cigarette smokers to be especially diligent to a thorough oral health regimen at home. Additionally, being committed to 6 month oral check-ups and cleanings is necessary. Too, I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping saliva flow at sufficient levels.
Saliva acts as a continual rinsing agent, moving bacteria and food particles that support bacteria growth out of the mouth. When smoking or vaping, the mouth dries out and bacteria are able to breed and accumulate quickly. This leads to formation of the sticky film you feel on teeth when you wake up in the morning.
Known as plaque, this film is actually a coating of accumulated oral bacteria. When not removed daily through thorough brushing, plaque can harden on tooth surfaces. This is tartar, which is a cement-hard mass of bacteria that eats into tooth enamel and destroys gum tissues.
In addition to developing gum disease and losing teeth, your overall health can be seriously affected by oral bacteria overload. Because the bacteria of gum disease are able to enter the bloodstream through weakened tissues, research has shown inflammatory reactions can occur elsewhere in the body. This inflammation has been linked to heart disease, some cancers, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies and more.
No matter what type of product you use, know that your smile needs extra-special attention. Our dental hygienists will be happy to structure your care to help keep your smile bright and healthy.
If you have delayed dental care, we are always happy to welcome new patients to our Shelby Township dental office. If you like, you can begin with a free consultation. Just tap here or call 586-739-2155.
If you have dental anxiety or fear , we are known for our emphasis on comfort. In addition to our gentle touch, our dental office has a vast array of advanced technology, much of which enhances comfort and shortens treatment time. Too, we offer oral and I.V. sedation (twilight sleep) when needed.
I look forward to meeting you and discussing ways we can protect your smile, for a lifetime! (You are invited to get to know me by viewing: MeetDrBarbat)

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Dr. Ban R. Barbat

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