Vaping was originally invented as a way to help people quit smoking cigarettes, which are well-known to increase the risk of a number of serious health issues, such as heart disease and various cancers. Unfortunately, a lot of people simply switched from using cigarettes to vaping. Even more unfortunately, some people who had never smoked before took up vaping.
Oral health consequences
The long-term health consequences of vaping nicotine-containing products is unknown. They are likely to be safer overall than smoking cigarettes but they still come with health risks. Some studies have looked at the effect of regular vaping on oral health and discovered some disturbing findings. Compared to people who didn’t vape, the vapers were more likely to have:
- More bacteria on their teeth and gums
- Chronic dry mouth
- Inflamed gums
- An irritated mouth and throat
An addition, a study exposed living human cells to the aerosol produced by vaping products and found it caused DNA damage, blocked cell proliferation, and induced some of the cells to die. Although these are in vitro findings, they suggest that vaping may increase the risk of oral and lung cancer and may also cause cells in the gums to die, which would increase the risk of developing periodontal disease.
Do we know for sure vaping is better for oral health than smoking?
Although vaping is probably healthier than smoking cigarettes, the evidence is currently just not there to say for sure. A review published in 2018 concluded vaping was better for your mouth and teeth than smoking but this conclusion was based on very limited and somewhat inconsistent evidence. Some studies have found that smokers who switched to vaping had improved oral health after the switch, and some studies have compared smokers to vapers and concluded vaping had less of an adverse impact on oral health than smoking. However, in all of these studies the vapers had only been vaping for a few months. More disturbing, one study found the opposite, that smokers who switched to vaping experienced worsening of their oral health.
What about vaping products without nicotine?
Some people vape flavored products that don’t contain nicotine. The health impacts of this practice aren’t really known, but one study’s results suggested these products act similarly to consuming sugary foods, promoting tooth decay and gum inflammation.