For many years, we’ve been aware of the many health risks of smoking regular cigarettes, including the significant risks to our oral health posed by regular, long term cigarette usage. Vaping has often been positioned as a healthier alternative to smoking, as vape juice contains far fewer ingredients and is missing many of the toxic chemicals associated with regular cigarette smoke. Electronic cigarettes or vapes are an excellent way for smokers to cut down or quit traditional cigarette smoking for good, as they are estimated to be 95% safer by the NHS and Public Health England . However, it’s important to continue to consider the side effects of vaping in the long-term. There is always new research being carried out into the health effects of vaping over long periods of time, and new developments in vape technology are making vaping safer every day. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind, whether you’re a long-term vaper, ex-smoker or current smoker looking to quit to help keep yourself healthy. Dental health and oral health, in particular, are very important to keep in mind when smoking and vaping alike.
Smoking and Dental Health
It’s no secret that there are a huge number of toxic chemicals in regular cigarettes that can cause irreversible damage to lots of different parts of the body. A traditional cigarette contains more than 7000 different compounds, including some harmful chemicals which pose real health risks to regular smokers . Heavy and long-term smokers are at much higher risk of many different conditions, including heart disease and certain cancers, but also of a considerable number of oral health issues.
Your dental health is often an indicator of a lot of different health issues , and people with poor oral health often find themselves suffering from other health effects and issues, which is why it is so important to keep on top of your dental health, whether you’re a smoker or not.
Smoking can damage your oral health in lots of different ways, one of the most significant being the buildup of bacteria. Smoking damages your mouth’s ability to effectively fight bacteria and infections, which means that your mouth doesn’t have any defences in case of a severe infection. It does this by preventing saliva from acting as it usually would (this is what causes the dry or “fuzzy” mouth sensation that many smokers are familiar with). This makes it easier for bacteria to stick to your teeth and gums and prevents it from being “cleaned” as it usually would by your saliva. This build-up can also turn into tartar, which needs professional cleaning to remove . Bacteria in the teeth and gums can also lead to gum disease, periodontal disease, tooth decay or tooth loss, which only makes it easier for bacteria to enter and cause painful issues.
Smoking also interferes with your regular circulation, which can be a real problem for your oral health. Poor circulation reduces the bacteria-fighting capabilities of your mouth even more and prevents the blood vessels in your mouth from doing their job. This can make the healing process after dental work, such as tooth extraction, dental implants or gum disease treatment longer and more painful. As well as this, the tar and nicotine in cigarettes very often cause staining and tooth enamel damage, which can be as painful as they are unsightly.
- Bad breath.
- A loss of taste or smell.
- Increased risk of oral cancer.
- Tooth sensitivity, due to enamel breakdown.
How Vaping Can Help You Quit Smoking
The long-term effects of vaping aren’t always clear, as while there has been a huge increase in interest and research in the area in recent years, there isn’t much historical data researchers can use. However, we do know that vaping doesn’t contain any tar and can be made nicotine-free, and these two substances are some of the most harmful in tobacco cigarettes when it comes to your oral health. It’s likely that vaping isn’t entirely risk-free when it comes to your dental health, but it is a massive improvement when compared to traditional cigarette smoking.
Aside from the issues smoking can cause for your oral health, it can have a significant impact on many other aspects of your general health, increasing your risk of cancers, heart disease, strokes, lung disease and diabetes, just to name a few. Vaping is so popular among ex-smokers as it can help curb not just the familiar nicotine cravings that those trying to quit will know all too well, but also the physical cravings that many long-term smokers struggle to kick just as much. The physical tics associated with smoking, such as the act of moving your hand to your mouth, the feeling of holding something small and light and the sensation of inhaling are all things that you lose with traditional nicotine replacement therapies like patches, lozenges and sprays. While these can be very effective at curbing nicotine cravings, for those who struggle with the physical cravings associated with long-term smoking, vaping is the best choice to help them cut down or quit . Vaping also allows you to continue to take smoking breaks as you normally would, so you don’t have to give up the social aspect of cigarette usage either!
What Can You do to Protect Your Oral Health?
When you’re vaping, there are several risks to your oral health that you should be aware of. The main thing to watch out for is nicotine, as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and vape juice flavourings (the other main ingredients in e-liquids) have been shown to be safe to inhale, while nicotine does still have adverse effects on the teeth and mouth, including tooth staining. If you can, try a lower nicotine strength or nicotine free e-liquid to help counteract this.
Vaping can also cause dry mouth, which contributes to poor salivary flow and bacteria buildup . However, as the bacteria buildup is primarily caused by the lack of saliva, rather than by any substances in the vapour itself, you can reduce this buildup as much as possible by staying hydrated regularly, including drinking water after vaping and leaving time between each vape session.
While there is still lots of research to be done regarding vaping and oral health, if you’re looking to quit smoking, vaping is one of the best ways to help you do so. If you’re looking to cut down or quit, we offer a wide selection of different starter kits to help you on your journey to becoming smoke-free.