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Unveiling The Oral Health Risks Of Vaping

The Hidden Perils Of Vaping

Originally launched as a product to help smokers quit, statistics show an increasing number of people who have never smoked before are taking up vape or e-cigarette use. In fact, the use of vapes in Australia is growing fastest among the under-35 age group with many teenagers and young adults attracted by the bright packaging and sweet or fruity flavours on offer. While marketed as a safer option to smoking, there is no scientific evidence to support this, and many supposedly “nicotine-free” vaping products have actually been found to contain nicotine (and a host of other harmful chemicals) when tested.

While vaping is now known to be associated with some of the same risks as tobacco smoking, such as heart disease and cancer, there is much we still don’t know about the long-term effects. Emerging research and warnings from organizations like the Australian Dental Association (ADA) have shed light on some of the dangers that vaping poses to oral health.

  1. Increased Risk of Gum Disease
    Recent studies indicate a link between vaping and an increased risk of gum disease. The chemicals present in e-cigarettes can disrupt the balance of oral bacteria, leading to inflammation and infection of the gums. Nicotine is known to constrict blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the gums. In addition, vaping can reduce the production of saliva, which provides a natural defence mechanism against harmful bacteria, further exacerbating the risk of gum disease.

  2. Oral Soft Tissue Damage
    Vaping involves inhaling aerosols containing various chemicals, which can irritate the oral tissues, leading to soreness, ulcers, and cancer. Aside from nicotine, many vaping products contain benzaldehydes which are known lung irritants, 2-chlorophenol, which is also used in pesticides and disinfectants, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which have been linked to multiple cancers. Unfortunately, many products when tested have been found to be inaccurately labelled, so it is not always possible to know what you are consuming. A study which analysed 65 popular vaping liquids found that none of them listed all the ingredients correctly.

  3. Tooth Decay
    The chemicals used as flavouring in vapes have been shown to increase dental plaque formation. Alongside this, the disruption to saliva, blood flow and oral bacteria balance impairs the mouth’s ability to fight off bacteria and repair damaged tissues, increasing the risk of cavities. Additionally, the acidic nature of many e-liquids can erode tooth enamel, leading to sensitivity and increased susceptibility to decay.

  4. Delayed Healing
    Vaping has been shown to impair the body’s ability to heal oral wounds and injuries, prolonging recovery times following procedures such as tooth extraction or oral surgery. This delayed healing not only increases discomfort but also heightens the risk of complications and infection.

  5. Burns
    The heating element in vaping devices can cause burns to the mouth, face and throat. There are multiple reported instances of vape batteries overheating or even exploding during use. The gradual breakdown of the heating element can also lead to users inhaling particles of heavy metals and microplastics, leading to lung irritation.

Want To Know More?

Check out this short podcast interview with Dr Sue-Ching Yeoh, Oral Medicine Specialist and ADA spokesperson. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/podcast-episode/the-harmful-dental-effects-of-vaping/d0q0hzjp3


Sources:
https://www.teeth.org.au/vaping
https://www.teeth.org.au/smoking-and-vaping
https://ada.org.au/policy-statement-2-2-11-community-oral-health-promotion-e-cigarettes
https://ada.org.au/e-cigarettes-a-lot-of-hot-air
https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-06/current-vaping-and-smoking-in-the-australian-population-aged-14-years-or-older-february-2018-to-march-2023.pdf

Unveiling The Oral Health Risks Of Vaping