Is Vaping Bad for My Teen’s Teeth?
- How E-cigarettes Work
- ADA Statement on Vaping
- Nicotine’s Impact on Oral Health
- E-Cigarettes Produce Dry Mouth
- Continuing Research and Product Malfunction
If you’re a parent of a Madison teen, you may have concerns over your child’s use of e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use or vaping has grown rapidly in the recent years, especially among teenagers. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 6.2 million middle and high school students used tobacco products in 2019, with e-cigarettes being the most common.
Because vaping is smokeless, it has the perception of being healthier than smoking. And since the products are relatively new, there’s quite a lot of research left to be done on how it may impact users’ health. However, due to earlier research done on traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products, we do know enough about some of the additives in e-cigarettes that give dentists a collective pause when considering the health impact of vaping. Let’s dive into how vaping works and what dentists do know about how it may harm oral health.
How E-Cigarettes Work
E-cigarettes work by heating up “vape juice,” which is comprised of nicotine–a tobacco extract–propylene glycol, flavorings and other chemicals. The liquid is heated into an aerosol and then inhaled. The vape juice can be added manually to the vape tank or can come in disposable pods.
E-cigarette tanks come in a variety of shapes that resemble a traditional cigarette, USB flash drive, highlighter, lighter, or pen.
For further reading: “What’s in an E-Cigarette?” American Lung Association
ADA Statement on Vaping
Because there’s no stinky smoke involved, teens believe vaping is a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking. However, the American Dental Association has made a strong statement against vaping. ADA President Chad Gehani, D.D.S. stated, “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.”
Although research is still out on many of the additives in vape juice because these products are new, we do know what nicotine alone does to oral health.
Nicotine’s Impact on Oral Health
Simply the nicotine alone in e-cigarettes, which can be as much as in traditional cigarettes, is enough to negatively impact oral health. Nicotine is known to constrict blood vessels. For oral health, this means that nicotine restricts blood flow to the gums. This can result in gum recession, gum disease, tooth loss, and the mouth’s inability to fight off infections.
Nicotine is also highly addictive. Young users who vape may be more likely to take up smoking later, which is also highly detrimental to oral health. Nicotine use is also a known risk factor for developing cancer.
E-Cigarettes Produce Dry Mouth
The most common complaint of people who vape is dry mouth. This dry mouth is caused by the base ingredients of the vape juice, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Dry mouth is detrimental to oral health because saliva is the normal way that our mouths wash away bacteria from between the teeth. When saliva is restricted, bacteria grows quickly in the mouth. The result is bad breath and, if long term, tooth decay.
Continuing Research and Product Malfunction
Due to the newness of the product, researchers are still studying the other chemicals in vape juice. However, the initial results do not yield good news for oral health. The aerosols are thought to create stickier surfaces on teeth, collecting bacteria and promoting tooth decay. One study showed sweet flavors were even more likely to adhere to enamel.
Studies also showed that users were more likely to experience irritated gums and mouths and have a dry cough. Additionally, these products have also been known to explode while in users’ mouths, causing serious damage to the face and mouth.
If you are concerned about your child’s vaping habit or other dental issues, please schedule an appointment with us. We are dedicated to helping your family enjoy the best possible oral health. Among many services, Affiliated Dentists offers general dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin.
Is Vaping Bad for My Teen’s Teeth? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson