It is no secret that the rate of vaping among teens and young adults has skyrocketed in the last several years with 20% of Americans ages 18-29 (Gallup, 2018) and 27.5% of high school students (Truth Initiative, 2019) using vaping products. Beyond the health risks vaping poses to the heart and lungs, an increasing amount of research links e-cigarette usage to higher rates of periodontal disease.
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and whether smoked or vaped, it restricts blood flow to the gums and disrupts our mouth’s natural ability to fight infection and restore connective tissue, which is detrimental to your oral health. Furthermore, the fluid in e-cigarettes, which includes propylene glycol, benzene, formaldehyde, and other chemicals, increases the risk of gum disease and tooth loss.
When used orally, propylene glycol breaks down into acids that damage enamel, and propionaldehyde, which irritates soft tissue. Propylene glycol also causes dry mouth, taking away essential saliva that cleans bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, from the mouth. This bacteria causes tooth decay and while drinking water can help rehydrate the mouth, it is not a replacement for saliva, which contains compounds that help protect teeth from the damage caused by this bacteria.
Nicotine is a stimulant and when consumed through vaping, can cause you to grind your teeth (bruxism) or exacerbate the problem if you are already a teeth grinder. Habitual teeth grinding or clenching frequently leads to tooth damage and other oral health complications.
While there is a solid amount of evidence to support the negative impact of vaping on your oral and overall health, communicating these risks to a teen can be difficult. E-cigarette companies have employed clever branding that makes vaping appealing to teens and downplays the risks associated with using their products. Teens often struggle to appreciate long-term consequences and are easily influenced to pick up vaping if it seems like “everyone is doing it.”
If you or your teen having any questions regarding the oral health risks associated with vaping, please don’t hesitate to contact us.