Many cigarette smokers make the switch from smoking to vaping in order to improve their general health. Smokers will notice staining on their teeth and eventual gum disease or damage. However, the question remains if switching to vaping is proven to decrease the damage done to a smoker’s oral health. We’ve combed the internet and gathered some information that might help answer that question.
There is a proven increased risk to your health when you pick up a daily habit of cigarette smoking. Due to various factors, smoking can cause tooth decay, gum disease, dental plaque, and an increased chance of oral cancer. When a traditional smoker makes the switch to vaping, there is hope that these risks will disappear. But the intake of nicotine still has some damaging side effects. The good news is that new research shows that these risks are at least lessened with the switch to vaping.
Cigarette smoking causes decreased blood flow throughout your body. This decreased circulation can then lead to an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. But when it comes to your oral health, smoking cigarettes increases the amount of grit you hold in your mouth and reduces your body's ability to take in oxygen.
In comparison to smoking, vaping does eliminate the grit you inhale due to the lack of tobacco. However, vaping nicotine can still reduce your blood circulation and lead to cultivating more bacteria and unhealthy gums with associated health risks. The intake of nicotine also acts as a muscle stimulant, which can lead to teeth grinding or clenching, otherwise known as bruxism. In the long run, this can cause additional tooth damage or other oral health problems.
Cigarettes are probably best known for causing gum disease and tooth stains. These points are often brought up at the dentist's office and are the most visible side effects that others notice. As mentioned above, the decreased blood circulation in your mouth can lead to a host of other issues. One of these issues is the fact that your mouth has a more difficult time fighting infections and the buildup of bacteria. Overtime, the collection of bacteria in your mouth will lead to weaker tooth enamel. This in turn leads to staining and yellowing of your teeth, gum disease, cavities, and eventual tooth loss.
Vaping does decrease these risks due to the lack of grit and tar left behind by smoking tobacco. Vaping does not produce any particulate matter and therefore lessens the amount of bacteria cultivated in your mouth, in comparison to smoking. However, nicotine does still reduce blood flow and can lead to weakened enamel and gum disease. In this manner, gum disease is caused by a lack of oxygen flow and the eventual death of gum tissues. This also leads to receding gum lines, increased tooth sensitivity, and the possibility of tooth loss in the long run.
A common issue for both cigarette smokers and dry herb vaporizer users is dry mouth. Although this appears to be more of an uncomfortable sensation than a health condition, the lack of saliva in your mouth can lead to other oral health concerns. Saliva works against plaque and bacteria build up along your gum lines and teeth. Without as much saliva being created when you smoke or vape, this can lead to bad breath, mouth sores, tooth decay, and swollen gums. All of this combined makes it an easy step to gum disease and long term tooth loss.
The good news is that by switching to vaping from cigarette smoking, you are already decreasing the potential damage done to your teeth and gums. In order to decrease the health risks altogether, it is best to quit smoking and vaping in the long run. Inhaling pure air is arguably the best thing for your oral health. More research is being done on vaping every day, and future studies may provide more information on the clear side effects vaping has on your overall health. For now though, there are some steps you can take to improve your oral health while vaping.
It is best practice to thoroughly care for your teeth every day, at least twice a day. This includes brushing properly with toothpaste and a toothbrush in good condition. It also includes properly flossing every day as well. Be sure to wait at least 20 minutes after you’ve vaped to brush with fluoride toothpaste though. This will reduce the additional wear on your tooth enamel.
Another important habit that can decrease the side effects of smoking or vaping on your oral health is to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water before and after vaping can decrease the risks of dry mouth. It also helps flush out any bad bacteria that might be trying to linger along your gum line.
Although quitting tobacco can help lessen the damage being done to your teeth, quitting nicotine will reduce that damage even further. Switching to a zero-nicotine or low-nicotine e-liquid can help increase your blood circulation to normal levels once again. This will additionally decrease your tooth discoloration and the amount of bacteria build-up in your mouth.
Most importantly, to care for your oral health you need to visit the dentist at least once a year. Although every person’s dental insurance is different, you’ll ideally want to visit the dentist for a cleaning every four to six months. This also allows the dentist to track any potential damage caused by smoking or using a vape pen, and recommend care that can lessen future damage.
Overall, making the switch from smoking cigarettes to vaping will improve your oral health. Although, quitting nicotine altogether is best for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Every little step in the right direction can improve your overall health though. In the end, it is up to you and your doctor to determine what is the best method for you to quit tobacco and nicotine intake and improve your long-term health.
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