Is Vaping Bad For Your Teeth?

The Relationship Between Vaping and Your Oral Health

Vaping, or e-cigarettes, is popular with older former smokers and younger first-time nicotine users. As the health effects of vaping are discussed and researched, most attention has been on lung health. But you may be wondering, does vaping affect oral health, and is vaping bad for your teeth? Whether trying to make an informed decision about the health of your teeth, are about to get braces, or are prepping for oral surgery we’ll look at what effects vaping can have on your oral health.

Is Vaping Bad for Your Teeth?

Vaping does have many negative effects on overall oral health. These range from increased bacteria, to damage to tooth enamel and cosmetic changes. 

  • It increases the amount of bacteria stuck to your teeth. Vegetable glycerin is a common base for vape liquids which can trap bacteria on your teeth. This increases the risk of cavities. This additive alongside other additives can also soften enamel, presenting more opportunities for cavities to form.
  • An ingredient called propylene glycol lowers saliva levels. Saliva naturally reduces the amount of bacteria present in the mouth and stuck to teeth. Dry mouth can cause cavities and other issues such as gum sores.
  • Vaping could worsen other oral health issues. Because vaping can soften enamel, trap bacteria, and lower saliva levels it has the potential to worsen other ongoing oral health issues.
  • Teeth stains can be caused or worsened by vaping. Vaping’s effects on enamel hardness and bacteria retention can create conditions for or worsen teeth discoloration or yellowing.
  • There is evidence of a range of health problems caused by vaping. Research indicates that vaping can disrupt the oral microbiome, increase the risk of gum disease, and expose users to chemicals that can cause oral and other cancers.

Vaping, Braces, and Oral Surgery

Vaping can negatively impact the effectiveness of orthodontic treatments. Nicotine use can change the rate at which teeth move when wearing metal braces, Invisalign, or other aligners. This could lead to slower corrections and prolonged treatment. 

Any oral surgery that requires healing can be slowed by vaping. Nicotine use lengthens the body’s natural healing time. Boston University research has shown no evidence of harm reduction between smoking and e-cigarettes. Advice to avoid smoking after certain dental procedures covers any nicotine use because of the increased healing time associated with it. This is doubly true of any oral nicotine use because it increases bacteria in the mouth and the risk of infection after certain procedures. 

Harm Reduction and Surgery Recovery

If you’re concerned about the effects vaping or other nicotine use can have on your oral health, stopping is the best way to prevent further damage. Of course, nicotine cessation is not easy. If quitting isn’t possible but want to limit any negative effects it’s best to stick to the fundamentals of oral hygiene. Twice a day brushing, flossing, using a fluoride mouthwash, and scheduling regular checkups can all help.

If you are planning a treatment for which it is recommended you temporarily cease nicotine use or if you want to quit for your long-term oral health the Mayo Clinic has an online guide to help.