“There’s no tar. So, it’s better for my lungs.”
“At least I don’t smell like cigarette smoke.”
“If you don’t buy off-brand cartridges, you’ll be OK.”
“Overall, I’m taking in less nicotine, and that’s better than smoking.”
Those are probably a few of the remarks you’ve heard—or said yourself—to justify a vaping habit. And while all of it is well-intended, and some of it even has some legitimacy, the bottom line dentists say is this: “Vaping is not a safe alternative to cigarettes or other tobacco products. When it comes to your teeth and gums, vaping could be just as dangerous as cigarette smoking.” —Chad Gehani, D.D.S. and president of the American Dental Association (ADA).
Here is a list of oral health issues caused by vaping and the reason the nicotine-habit impacts more than just your lungs.
Tooth Decay aka Cavities—Fighting off tooth decay or preventing cavities is all about getting the bacteria out. Well, when you vape, you take in an aerosol that contains a mix of vegetable glycerin and other flavorings that help bacteria grow. Studies show that the teeth of a vaper can carry four times the bacteria than the teeth of a non-vaper.
Gum Disease—The negative impact of nicotine on gums is well documented. And, it’s fairly well-known that e-cigarettes contain less nicotine than regular cigarettes. Good news, right? No.
There is growing evidence that the negative effect of nicotine is the same for vaping and smoking. The negative effect is decreased blood flow and cellular turnover, increasing your risk of gum disease.
Dry Mouth—Not having enough saliva in your mouth throughout the course of a day and night allows bad bacteria to overtake the good. The liquid alcohol that’s often used in food processing because of its ability to mix well with flavoring ingredients—like those used in e-cigarette cartridges—is known to cause dry mouth. If you vape enough, you can be in a chronic state of dry mouth, leading to an increased risk of cavities and gum disease.
Enamel Softening—That dry-mouth causing alcohol, called propylene glycol, also breaks down into three things known to chip away at enamel and weaken soft tissue: acetic acid, lactic acid and propionaldehyde.
Consider your future
Smoking tobacco has been a habit of humans for centuries, and we started knowing about health impacts just decades ago. Vaping has been a thing for barely a decade, and we are already seeing the health impacts now. Imagine what other health impacts may become associated with vaping or known to be caused by vaping in another decade from now.
Consider taking advantage of the federal, state and county nicotine cessation programs available in your area. Your road to being nicotine-free will not be a smooth one. But the destination will be a much healthier place to be.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one place to start. You can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to access free telephone support. Callers are routed to their state quitlines, which offer more local information and services. What do you have to lose? Besides your teeth? If you don’t quit, that is.
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