In recent years, e-cigarettes have gained popularity as a safer alternative to smoking. Companies market vaping as a clean and safe way to get your nicotine fix, but these seemingly harmless devices can do some major damage to your oral health! April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and here at Accent Smile Center, we’re committed to helping you care for your smile for the long haul, including kicking bad habits. The first step is knowing what’s going on beneath the surface, so let’s explore how vaping affects oral health and the steps you can take to preserve your smile.
What is vaping, anyway?
E-cigarettes, or vapes, are battery-powered systems that turn a liquid substance into a vapor you inhale. While they were originally intended as a tool to quit smoking, the perception of vaping as a safe alternative to smoking and enticing flavors has led to many people—including teens—vaping habitually.
The effects of vaping on your smile
Vaping can affect your overall health similarly to smoking, including coughing, mouth irritation, lung scarring, and addiction. But you may not know the effects it can have on your smile!
While the chemicals in vaping liquid have fewer toxins than in cigarettes, it still presents the risk of oral cancer. Signs of oral cancer include sores that don’t go away, red or white patches, numbness, pain, swelling, or a consistent sore throat. If you vape and notice any of these signs, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Gatgens or Dr. Densmore to check on your smile.
Vaping causes dry mouth because it contains a substance that decreases saliva production. Saliva protects your teeth and gums by washing away harmful bacteria and acids that cause decay and gum disease. Without this essential substance, you may develop cavities and gum inflammation.
Vaping can also cause oral irritation and inflammation. The chemicals in e-liquid irritate the soft tissues in your mouth, including your gums, tongue, and throat, causing redness, swelling, and soreness. The heat from vaping devices can even cause thermal burns in the mouth, further irritating the inflammation and swelling.
Another issue with vaping is that it can mask the symptoms of gum disease, which can cause redness, swelling, and bleeding gums. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and systemic health problems, and since vaping has similar effects, it’s often written off as nothing to worry about.
The chemicals in vaping liquid can cause discoloration and yellowing of the teeth, similar to the staining caused by smoking. If you’re a frequent vaper, the staining can accumulate over time and become more difficult to remove. The heat from vaping can also cause enamel erosion, making your teeth more susceptible to staining and decay.
If all of that wasn’t enough to deter you, vaping could also cause bad breath. The chemicals in e-liquid can leave a lingering odor in your mouth, which can make you self-conscious and be unpleasant to the people around you.
Keep your smile in shape
So, what can you do to protect your oral health while vaping? Here are a few tips:
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can help counteract the dry mouth caused by vaping and increase saliva production.
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brush and floss regularly to remove plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums.
- Schedule regular dental check-ups. Regular dental cleanings and exams can help detect oral health issues early on and prevent further damage.
- Use nicotine gum or patches instead of vaping. If you’re trying to quit smoking, nicotine gum or patches can be a safer alternative without the same oral health risks as vaping.
The best thing you can do for your smile is to kick the habit of vaping. It can be challenging, but the health benefits far outweigh the time it’ll take to quit.
Kick bad habits and create smiles with Accent Smile Center
While vaping may seem like a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, its impact on your oral and overall health proves otherwise. Knowing how vaping affects oral health is the first step to taking care of your smile. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Gatgens or Dr. Densmore at Accent Smile Center in Dickson to learn about the state of your smile and how to care for it properly.