It is well-known that smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products can lead to gum disease, oral cancer, and inflammation – but, what about e-cigarettes? Vaping has become a national trend, and because vapes do not contain tobacco, they have been touted as a safe alternative to tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, and shisha (for hookahs). It is easy to see why vaping has become more popular in recent years, primarily because e-cigarettes do not produce smoke from tobacco. Instead, they produce an aerosol cloud that you “vape,” making it seem like vaping has no real health disadvantages. Unfortunately, this belief lulls us into a false sense of security.
According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), e-cigarettes are considered “drug delivery devices” and should be treated as such. These products have had relatively little production regulation and have not been studied extensively, so the dangers and potential benefits are not entirely known. What is known, however, is that vapes contain nicotine, which has its own set of oral risks. As the dental authorities in Mercer County, NJ, and the surrounding areas, we at Hamilton Dental Associates would like to clear up some of the questions about the dangers of vaping and nicotine use for your oral health.
Nicotine is a known vasoconstrictor, which restricts blood flow in your veins. As a result of nicotine use, your gums can begin to receive less and less blood. By denying your gums oxygen and other essential nutrients due to blood restriction, the nicotine effectively chokes your gums, causing your gum tissues to die and begin receding.
Masking Gum Disease Symptoms
Gum disease is usually easy to diagnose. The increased blood flow to and swelling of your gums matched with severe irritation cause your gums to bleed after brushing and flossing. But, as we mentioned above, nicotine reduces blood flow to your gums; therefore, the common symptoms of gum disease are masked. If you use vapes, your gum disease may seem like it has gotten better, but the truth is that the nicotine has only taken away some symptoms.
What is worse is that this can fool your dentist. If you stop receiving treatment as a result of nicotine-induced blood inhibition, your gum disease could get worse without your knowledge.
Causes Bad Breath
In a more inconvenient vein, nicotine, as a vasoconstrictor hinders your body’s ability to produce saliva. Saliva restriction leads to dry mouth, bacteria build-up, and tooth decay – all known causes of bad breath.
Causes & Intensifies Teeth-Grinding
Nicotine is a stimulant that excites your mouth muscles and can prompt teeth-grinding in non-grinders and cause the grinding habit to intensify in those already grinding their teeth. Grinding your teeth can lead to chipped, damaged, and loose teeth along with jaw and tooth pain.
At Hamilton Dental, we pride ourselves on keeping our patients’ teeth and mouths healthy. Lamentably, the rise of vaping has increased the number of nicotine users, and has provided another avenue for early gum recession, oral and hygiene issues, along with a convincing mask for gum disease symptoms. Although there have not been enough studies on e-cigarettes to determine all the consequences of vaping, we know that the nicotine found in vapes can have some adverse effects on oral health.
Our diagnosis: the best way to avoid oral health issues is to stop smoking and vaping altogether, and to continue visiting your dentist every six months. We know this is an unpopular conclusion, but vaping is bad for your oral health, and the dental experts at Hamilton Dental are prepared to help you fight the effects and keep your mouth healthy!
Call us at your nearest Hamilton Dental campus or fill out a contact form to schedule your appointment today!