Neither vaping nor smoking are good for your teeth or gums — but is one less harmful than the other? While people might assume that vaping is the better option, that is not necessarily the case. The team at Pacific Northwest Periodontics explains why vaping is not better for your teeth and gums than smoking.
Vaping vs. Smoking
The deleterious effects of smoking on oral and general health are long known. That’s less true of vaping, which was introduced to the U.S. market in 2009. A study recently published in the JAMA Network Open found that vaping is not necessarily the safer alternative to smoking like it’s been touted. In fact, in some respects, the effects of vaping are worse and occur more quickly.
Dr. Purnima Kumar, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association, observed, “This study validates everything we have ourselves observed at the molecular/cellular level, which is that in some ways vaping may actually be worse for your dental health than smoking.”
Kumar’s research had shown that vaping affects the mouth’s biofilm, or the bacteria found in the mouth. She notes that mouth bacteria treat vaping “as a food group,” with vape products immediately broken down. “That process is the equivalent to exposing your teeth and gums to a supersized McDonald’s meal every day,” according to Kumar.
A Dental Nightmare
The use of any type of tobacco product creates a potential dental nightmare. Such use increases the odds of developing:
- Bone loss
- Gum disease
- Loose teeth
- Precancerous oral lesions
- Tooth loss
According to the study, vapers were 27% more likely to experience bleeding gums after brushing and flossing than smokers. The amount of mouth inflammation was similar in those who smoked for at least five years compared to those who vaped for just five months. Inflammation was similar.
Despite the huge time difference in usage, vapers arrive at the point where bacterial destruction takes place more quickly than it does in smokers.
The Bottom Line
While vaping may prove marginally more harmful to your teeth and gums than smoking, both practices can cause or intensify serious oral health issues. Most vapers are former smokers, perhaps trying to cut back on a cigarette habit. If they think vaping is a safer alternative, they are wrong. For the sake of your oral and overall health, try to quit using any tobacco products. There are ways to quit, including the use of medication, smoke-free apps and texting programs, support groups and more.