Vaping and oral health
It is well established that smoking cigarettes is bad for gum heath and can lead to tooth loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an adult smoker is twice as likely to suffer from gum disease compared to a non-smoker, and once you have gum damage as a smoker it is harder for gums to heal and gum disease treatments may be less effective.
Can vaping improve gum health for an adult smoker?
Adult smokers that transition to vaping often highlight improved personal hygiene such as the absence of the smell of smoke from breath, skin, hair and clothes as an important benefit along with a lack of smell in their home and car. Smoking’s visual damage to teeth as well as improved overall oral health is also sited especially for those smokers who have the on-set of early gum disease where gums may have pulled away from the teeth forming spaces or pockets around the teeth.
Vaping is widely perceived to be better than smoking for oral health, as seen in this research from 2017 – the top cited ‘Scholarly article’ on this subject on Google – suggesting vapers (though not dual users who smoke and vape) and non-smokers were better off than smokers in terms of oral health. The report concluded that “Periodontal inflammation and self‐perceived oral symptoms were poorer among Cigarette smokers than among vaping individuals and non-smokers.”
Always seek advice from a dental expert
A quick google search around this subject is likely to create confusion rather than clarity for adult smokers and vapers concerned about their oral health. There is a substantial list of non-scholarly articles suggesting there might be negative consequences from vaping so we would always recommend talking to your dentist and seeking expert advice on this issue.
Top of the google rankings is an article entitled “Is vaping bad for your teeth?” published by www.healthline.com. The article is balanced saying that vaping was definitely better than smoking for dental health, but that vaping could cause some side-effects like a dry mouth, and unsurprisingly concluding that: “More research needs to be done to understand both the short- and long-term effects of vaping on oral health.”
Sadly there is also lots of misleading information out there, including this piece published in February 2020 by www.askthedentist.com. It claims that vaping causes gum disease without any evidence and only cites one source – some research about tobacco products published in India in 2010 – a time before vaping was well established anywhere, never mind in India where vape products are currently not sold.
How can gum disease be prevented?
The best way to avoid gum disease is with good dental habits. The recommendation from UK charity the Oral Health Foundation is to monitor your dental health. In a statement published in 2017 on the subject of vaping it said, “If you are thinking about switching to e-cigarettes or already use them, it is important to be extra attentive to the prevention of gum disease.” The charity further advised that by “”By brushing last thing at night and at one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste, cutting down on sugary foods and drinks, and visiting your dentist regularly, you can not only develop and maintain good oral health but can also improve your overall wellbeing too.”