The effects of vaping on your oral health

The effects of vaping on your oral health

What is vaping:

According to Smokefree NZ, vaping refers to the use of an electronic device that heats a liquid turning it into an aerosol (vapour) which the user inhales. The liquid typically contains nicotine, however, there are nicotine free vapes available in the market too. 

Vaping has become very popular among children and youth due to flavour appeal and cost effectiveness which is very dangerous. It is more addicitve than smoking hence, it can be difficult to quit even if it is used as a smoking cessation tool. Currently, 250,000 New Zealanders vape daily out of which, 5% are under 18! Recent researches are proving that vaping is more harmful than smoking cigarette as it contains irritant chemicals which cause damage to the airways, and because it is easier to quantify smoking per cigarettes but not vape due to it's liquid composition.

Although vaping may cause less harm than smoking cigarettes you are still ingesting nicotine (in most cases very high amount) and it has detrimental effects on your oral health regardless of how it is consumed. Nicotine is also far more addictive than heroin, cocaine, alcohol and amphetamine. Anothr very important factor to consider with vaping in comparison to smoking cigarettes is that you are inhaling the entire nicotine content without any burn off; most of the nicotine is burnt off in a cigarette as the smoker doesnt constantly keep it in his mouth hence the intake from one cigarette is significantly low. Therefore, with limited knowledge and awareness, a person using nicotine based vape could be equivalent to a heavy smoker.

For example:
An average cigarette contains 8-12mg of nicotine however the average obsorbtion in the body is only 1-2mg due to the remaining wasted as burn off

In comparison:
30ml of e-juice with 5% nicotine vaped for 2 weeks = 1500mg of nicotine which is approximately 30 packets of cigarettes ! 

Recent studies are starting to link the habit of vaping with increased risk of gum disease and other oral health issues.

The complications of vaping:

  1. Increase in blood insulin levels leading to diabetes/uncontrolled diabetes, high cavity risk and gum disease
  2. Acid erosion of enamel due to dry mouth and increase in reflux 
  3. Hyperactive sympathetic nervous system resulting in higher occurence of teeth grinding and wear
  4. Increase risk of implant failure
  5. Low oral wound healing/repair 

Why these complications occur:

Vaping has a significant effect on saliva flow. Saliva plays an important part in protecting your mouth. When your mouth is dry, bacteria builds up at the base of teeth and gums, which can lead to bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay.

Some flavoured vape liquids have a sugar content that helps them present as popular fruit flavours. Having a sugar enriched vapor in your mouth will leave a residue that cavity-causing bacteria can feed on.

E-cigarettes also contain a chemical liquid called Propylene glycol which happens to be a food additive; this is burnt at very high temperature in e-cigarette causing an entirely different reaction in the body.

The nicotine contained in vapes also has a negative effect on blood vessels, especially the really small ones, like the ones in your mouth. It causes the blood vessels to constrict and narrow known as vasoconstriction. As the blood vessels get smaller it reduces the blood flow to the gums which reduces nutrients to the gums, therefore they are less able to fight off the bacteria that causes gum disease. Hence, healing in mouth will be compromised resulting in poor treatment outcomes as well. 

Currently there is very limited evidence with the harmful effects of nicotine free vapes however, due to similar chemical irritants present, they pose risks of airway damage with prolonged use.

If you are someone who is attempting to quit smoking with vape, please ensure you visit Quitline or your local smoking cessation services found across NewZealand for advice on the right products, and the right nictone level for you to start on.

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