What is a vape or an e-cigarette?
What’s inside an e-cigarette?
Here is a breakdown of what an e-cigarette contains and the possible effects of these substances to your oral and overall health.
- Propylene Glycol – Once broken down, it has products that are toxic to teeth enamel and soft tissues.
- Vegetable Glycerin and flavourings – These are found to make teeth enamel softer and surfaces stickier, which in turn causes cavity-forming bacteria to stick more easily into the natural grooves and crevices of the teeth.
- Nicotine – This chemical is a vasoconstrictor which means it decreases the blood supply to the gums and tissues of the mouth. This causes a reduced and slower healing.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the aerosols have ultrafine particles that are inhaled deep into the lungs, along with cancer-causing chemicals, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals such as lead, nickel and tin.
It is true that e-cigarettes have less harmful contents than tobacco products and also doesn’t produce the same carbon monoxide created by smoking tobacco, but it doesn’t mean that they are any safer.
Oral health risks posed by vaping
- Dry mouth – This can lead to issues such as tooth decay due to lack of saliva. Saliva is the natural defense system in the mouth against cavity-causing bacteria.
- Gum and soft tissue irritation and/or ulceration – This is due to drying of the tissues and lack of lubrication along with chemicals released from the liquid. This in turn can affect taste and swallowing.
- Periodontal disease (gum disease) – Vaping causes inflammation and swelling of the gums just like normal tobacco products. Plus, nicotine causes decreased blood supply to the tissues.
- Bad breath – It can be caused by the dry mouth, cavities in the teeth, or presence of gum disease.
- Staining – Although it may be less than usual tobacco stain, the nicotine from vaping can still stain the teeth especially if the mouth is dry.
- Speak to your doctor about quitting for good.
- Drink water after using any of these products to help minimize side effects.
- Floss and brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste.
- Reduce sugar and acidic intake as a dry mouth makes you more prone to acid erosion and tooth decay.
- Visit your dentist and dental hygienist regularly for check-ups and cleaning, and visit sooner if you notice any irregular changes in the mouth such as persistent ulcers or sores returning in the same place or not healing.