Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have become increasingly popular over the last few years as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. While traditional smoking has declined, e-cigarette use has grown exponentially – particularly among younger people. Unfortunately, this misconception that e-cigarettes and vaping are safer alternatives does not hold true; both can still harm your oral health if not taken care of properly. E-cigarettes and other forms of smoking can harm your teeth and why taking care of your dental health is so important.
E-cigarettes and Oral Health
E-cigarettes heat a liquid containing nicotine, flavourings, and other chemicals to form a vapor that the user inhales. Similar to traditional cigarettes, the heated vapor is inhaled into your lungs before exhaled – just like traditional smoking smoke does. While e-cigarettes don’t produce tar or other harmful chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, they still contain nicotine which can become addictive and detrimental for oral health if left unchecked.
Nicotine acts as a vasoconstrictor, restricting blood flow to your gums and leading to gum recession. When your gums recede, the roots of your teeth become exposed, increasing the risk of decay, sensitivity, and even tooth loss. Furthermore, nicotine has the potential to stain your teeth and give off bad breath no matter how often you brush or floss.
Other Forms of Smoking and Your Oral Health
Traditional cigarette smoking can lead to serious oral health conditions like gum disease, tooth loss, oral cancer, bad breath, and stained teeth. Smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco or snuff also pose risks of oral cancer, gum disease, and tooth loss. Even hookah smoking – often seen as a safer alternative than traditional cigarettes – can harm your oral health by exposing teeth and gums to smoke and chemicals from tobacco leaves which may lead to gum disease and cancer.
It is essential to be aware that smoking, in any form, weakens your immune system’s capacity for fighting off infections in the mouth and leaves you more vulnerable to oral health issues.
Maintaining good oral health requires practicing good oral hygiene, which includes:
- Brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste will help maintain optimal oral health.
- At least once a day, floss your teeth.
- Limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks
- Drink plenty of water
- Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups
If you smoke or use e-cigarettes, it is imperative to quit. Speak with your healthcare provider about resources available for quitting smoking or vaping. Furthermore, smoking cessation may be covered by insurance; be sure to confirm with them what coverage you have available.
Though e-cigarettes may be seen as a safer alternative to traditional cigarette smoking, they still pose risks to your oral health. Nicotine – regardless of how it’s consumed – has the potential to harm gums, teeth, and overall oral wellbeing. Furthermore, traditional cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco products, and hookah smoking all have negative impacts on oral wellbeing. By practicing good oral hygiene habits and quitting smoking or vaping you can maintain excellent oral health while decreasing the risk of future issues. If you have any queries or worries about your oral wellbeing please visit your dentist immediately for advice.