Electronic Cigarettes and Oral Health

Woman holding electronic cigarette
Are electronic cigarettes harmful to our oral health, or not? Let’s dive into the research!

The harmful effects of tobacco in any form is common knowledge. Heart disease, lung cancer, and diabetes are just a few of the many health issues that can stem from its use. As far as destructive habits go, smoking cigarettes in particular is viewed as one of the worst for your own body and for those around you (as secondhand smoke is also extremely dangerous). Since the consequences of smoking have become increasingly known to the public, the use of electronic cigarettes has sky-rocketed. Switching from smoking cigarettes to vaping e-cigarettes seems like a no-brainer if you are trying to quit tobacco!

But as the new trend has shown no signs of slowing down, some new research is showing that e-cigarettes may be just as harmful to your oral health as using tobacco! First, we will look at what vaping actually is, and then what effects it could have on your oral health.

What are e-cigarettes?

An electronic cigarette is a battery-powered device shaped like a cigarette. It delivers nicotine by vaporizing a heated liquid in the e-cigarette that is then inhaled like you would inhale cigarette smoke. The produced aerosol does not contain tobacco or other carcinogens, but it does contain nicotine, chemicals, flavoring, and sometimes food coloring. “Vaping” is the common term for the act of using an e-cigarette, or a similar device that produces a nicotine-based vapor.

Why is vaping bad for oral health?

Because e-cigarettes are relatively new to the U.S. market and there are many different types of vapors that contain different ingredients, it’s not yet possible to say that every e-cigarette poses the same level of harm. But because all of them contain some level of nicotine and the effects of nicotine on oral health are well-known, that should be reason enough to approach with caution. Because nicotine is a stimulant and restricts blood supply in the mouth, it can cause:

  • Gum disease
  • Bruxism
  • Dry mouth

Aside from nicotine, the other chemicals and flavorings in e-cigarettes may pose additional harm. Some chemicals that are often included are linked to heart, lung, and respiratory disease. Flavors, particularly the ones that have menthol, have been discovered to aggravate gum disease by damaging the tissue.

What’s the bottom line?

Treated as a last resort and used for only a short amount of time, e-cigarettes have been shown to help people quit using tobacco. Unfortunately, nicotine is a highly addictive substance and is also very dangerous, especially when used long-term. Although the research is still in the early stages, it is a good idea to refrain from using e-cigarettes until the risks can be better understood. Although nicotine alone is damaging for your oral health, there is some evidence that certain ingredients in certain vaping products may be harmful as well.

For more information on the relationship between e-cigarettes and oral health, consult the following: