Vaping has seen a major increase in sales and use in recent years, with many people believing that it is safer than smoking. But what is the real truth? Is vaping bad for your teeth? The truth paints a far uglier picture.
Quite directly, vaping is downright dangerous and pointedly harmful to your oral health - see also earlier 'Smokers Mouth' post. Compared with traditional tobacco use, studies show that vaping may be equally dangerous to oral health or even more so.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at precisely why vaping is bad for your teeth. But it’s not all bad news. We will also show you how you can improve the appearance of your teeth for a glowing smile you’ll be proud to flash.
What Is Vaping?
Vaping is when a liquid solution is heated to form an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid in e-cigarettes is called e-liquid. This liquid is usually composed of glycerin, propylene glycol, flavoring, and water.
The other most common ingredient is nicotine, although some users use THC instead of nicotine. In practice, the nicotine content in the blood of e-cigarette users is often lower than that of smokers. However, because the nicotine content in e-cigarettes varies greatly, it is difficult to compare directly.
There are many different reasons as to why users turn to vaping. Let’s take a moment to examine a few of the most popular.
- The erroneous belief that vaping is safer compared to cigarettes
- Get around areas that are deemed “smoke-free”
- Help quit smoking
- Recreational use
As you can see, there are various reasons why one might choose vaping. But as studies show, vaping isn’t all fun and games.
Studies on Vaping
Researchers and advocates against tobacco are particularly concerned that irresponsible marketing makes e-cigarettes appear to be appealing and attractive to young people who have never used tobacco products.
Moreover, it appears to be also marketed to young people who do not want to start smoking. The number of middle school students using these products has steadily declined since 2014.
However, this number has increased since the introduction of e-cigarettes, and it is estimated that one in five school children can use tobacco products. What’s more, from 2017 to 2018, the consumption of e-cigarettes and vaping products increased by 78% for high school students and 48% for middle school students.
The Ingredients That Make up Vaping and Their Concerns
The primary concern surrounding e-cigarettes is the evident danger of propylene glycol. Also known as “PG,” propylene glycol is mainly used among food industries in polymer production. Propylene glycol is found in various foods such as milkshakes, liquid sweeteners, and ice cream.
This additive can also be used as a carrier for a variety of inhaled drugs, including nicotine. Since propylene glycol is a colorless, viscous liquid with a slightly sweet taste, it works well as one of the main components of e-liquid.
When taken orally, the breakdown of propylene glycol produces compounds such as acetic acid, lactic acid, and propionaldehyde. The kicker here is that these chemicals are toxic to tooth enamel and soft tissues.
What’s more, propylene glycol is hygroscopic. What is that, you ask? “Hygroscopic” means the water molecules in saliva and oral tissues combine with propylene glycol molecules to dry the tissues. This can cause dry mouth, also known as xerostomia.
This condition has been shown to cause an increase in tooth decay (see 'Best Toothbrush For Smokers'), gum disease, and other oral diseases and health concerns.
The other danger in vaping is related to another important component of e-cigarette liquid: glycerin and added flavors. Vegetable glycerin is a viscous liquid with no color or smell. It does, however, have a sweet taste to it. Vegetable glycerin, also called “VG,” has many practical uses, including medical treatments, pharmaceutical use, and personal care products.
In the food industry, it is used as a solvent, humectant, and sweetener. What’s more, it is 60% sweeter than sucrose and is not metabolized by cariogenic bacteria. As such, it is believed that vegetable glycerin will not cause tooth decay.
Studies have shown that combining vegetable glycerin with flavors can increase the adhesion of microorganisms to tooth enamel by a factor of four. Moreover, it also increases the formation of biofilms by a factor of two.
In addition, the hardness of the enamel increased by 27% after flavoring was added to the e-liquid. Compared with the unflavored control, the viscosity of the smoke oil also allows Streptococcus mutans to attach to pits and cracks in the teeth.
In other words, vaping will cause more bacteria that cause tooth decay to attach to softer teeth and may cause severe tooth decay.
The Dangers of Nicotine and Lithium Batteries
Another danger associated with vaping is related to nicotine. Although the nicotine content is much lower than traditional tobacco products (between 0.3% and 1.8%), an e-cigarette cartridge, which contains between 200 and 400 puffs, is equivalent to smoking two to three packs of ordinary cigarettes. Yikes.
The harmful effects of nicotine on gum tissue are well known. The literature shows that nicotine affects the blood flow to the gums because it is a vasoconstrictor. It also affects the production of cytokines, neutrophil function, and other cellular functions.
In addition, nicotine reduces the metabolism of connective tissues, leading to a higher risk of gum disease and tooth loss.
Perhaps even more disconcerting is the presence of lithium batteries. Around 2018, a 24-year-old Texas man died when his vaporizer exploded. Part of the device eventually severed his jugular vein.
Although these sensational vaping deaths are rare, with only two reports thus far, the malfunctioning of vaping accessories happens all too often. The problem is that the evaporator and the lithium battery are overheating, and these explosions are usually attributed to improper handling.
Oftentimes, the vaping device is overcharged or is associated with a device called a mechanical module, which is not inherently safe and may overheat and explode. Furthermore, there was a report that found 195 of these adverse events occurred between 2009 and 2016.
Moreover, studies estimate that between 2015 and 2017, there were 2,035 e-cigarette explosions and combustion incidents in the United States alone, which is more than 40 times the original estimate by the U.S. government.
These injuries are serious and often deform the oral soft tissues. With this data collected and researched, it is clear that vaping is bad for your teeth. Most importantly, e-cigarettes and vaping are as dangerous as smoking or even more dangerous.
The problem is that vaping and e-cigarettes are considered a safer alternative to traditional tobacco products, and companies are adding flavors to attract the attention of the younger generation. In fact, according to a 2013-2014 survey, 81% of young e-cigarette users cited attractive tastes as the main reason for using them.
Many vaping advocates claim that e-cigarette use and vapes account for 5% of the health risks associated with traditional smoking. They also claim that their use helps people quit smoking and that it has a special purpose that has helped many people quit smoking.
Unfortunately, these studies only looked at the use of e-cigarettes and vaping by former smokers who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking. Research has not yet investigated the health effects of non-smokers starting to vape because e-cigarettes claim to be good for health.
In addition, these studies did not solve the problem of e-cigarettes among middle school students. The share of e-cigarette use is growing the fastest, which is why we are facing a wave of oral health problems.
So, what can you do to brighten your smile if you’ve been caught in the vaping trap? Read on to find out.
Brighten That Smile!
Thanks to Dr. Brite’sSmoke & Vape Teeth Whitening Pen, you can enjoy whiter, brighter teeth once again. Simply use this safe and effective pen for five minutes each day to see your teeth improve by five shades (see also 'Does Vaping Stain Your Teeth?')! Combined with a dedicated plan to quitting vaping, Dr. Brite’s Smoke & Vape Teeth Whitening Pen can restore your smile to its natural beauty.
Vaping is believed by some to be even more dangerous than smoking conventional cigarettes. The bottom line is that it’s best to avoid both, if possible. Like most fads, vaping appeared to be the bee’s knees at first blush. However, time and research have revealed otherwise.