The Negative Effects of Vaping on Your Teen’s Dental Health

Vaping: The dangers of cigarette smoking have been known for a long time, so understandably, smokers looking for a “healthier” way to indulge in nicotine have turned to vaping. This nicotine delivery technology utilizes electronic cigarettes to transform e-liquid, sometimes known as “vape juice,” into an aerosol mist that is then inhaled.

The modern e-cigarette device was created by Hon Lik, a Chinese inventor who lost his father to lung cancer, as a way to help smokers quit.

However, given the perception that vaping is a harmless alternative to traditional tobacco products and the enticing flavours that can be added to juice, even non-smokers – including an alarming number of teenagers have started vaping.

A recent survey shows that up to 37% of high school students and more than 17% of eighth graders were vaping in the previous year.

Some parents may not be alarmed by this statistic – after all, at least they don’t smoke, right? The problem is that children who vape are not only at a higher risk of smoking traditional cigarettes in the future,

but they are also at risk of permanently damaging their gums and losing their teeth. Below are four ways vaping harms oral health:

(While researching this topic, we found this excellent article from Perio-Implant Advisory, written by dental professionals for dental professionals. We’ve summarized this information for those of us who don’t have a medical background.)

  1. Nicotine can lead to gum disease and tooth loss.

While vape juice contains much lower amounts of nicotine than traditional tobacco products (and, depending on the user, may contain none at all), the negative effect of nicotine on the gums is well known.

Nicotine not only restricts blood flow to the gums but also affects our mouth’s natural ability to fight infection and replenish connective tissue, leading to a higher risk of gum disease and tooth loss.

vaping

If the thought of losing teeth doesn’t deter you from wanting to smoke or vape, consider that gum disease can contribute to other, more serious conditions. Even without nicotine, other ingredients in vape juice can worsen oral health.

  1. Propylene glycol is toxic to enamel and soft tissues.

Propylene glycol (PG) is a key component of vape juice and is considered safe for consumption and inhalation.

Still, when used orally, it breaks down into acids that damage enamel and propionaldehyde, which irritates soft tissues. PG also causes dry mouth, taking away necessary saliva and leading to cavities and gum disease.

Although drinking water can help rehydrate the mouth, it does not replace saliva, which contains compounds that help protect teeth from damage by the bacteria Streptococcus mutans, which causes tooth decay.

Even worse, teens are likely to drink soda or energy drinks to relieve dry mouth. This increases the damage caused by PGs because these drinks contain sugar that feeds bacteria and acids that further erode tooth enamel. Since traditional tobacco products do not contain PG, this is one of the ways that vaping is worse for oral health.

  1. Vegetable glycerin and flavourings enhance the adhesion of germs to teeth that are already soft.

Vegetable glycerin (VG) is a viscous liquid sweetener that aids in the adhesion of Streptococcus mutans to the crevices on the biting surfaces of teeth.

Additionally, when mixed with the flavours that attract teens to enjoy vaping, the combination causes four times more microbes to stick to teeth and double the growth of biofilm. Flavours also reduce tooth enamel hardness by 27%.

 Effects of Vaping

Combined with the damage caused by nicotine and PG, the VG and flavours create the perfect conditions for rampant decay, gum infections, and tooth loss. That’s not great.

  1. Lithium batteries pose a risk of overheating and explosion.

While we can feel the collective eye roll of vaping adults, the fact remains that the lithium batteries contained in a specific type of e-cigarette called a “mechanical mod” explode and Inflict significant harm to the oral cavity and facial region.

Although not very common (2,035 emergency room visits for vape explosions between 2015 and 2017), they are generally caused by misuse or improper care of the device.

Since teens are probably not as responsible in the care of their e-cigarettes, it is reasonable to assume that they are at a higher risk of injury than most adult vapers.

It can be difficult to convince a teenager who is desperate to fit in with their peers that the negative effects of vaping and cigarette smoking on oral health are worth stopping.

But given the impact a healthy smile has on your teen’s self-esteem and future career success, the argument is worth making.

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