Posted on: 23 September, 2022
E-cigarettes are marketed as a safer alternative to tobacco products, but they can still be damaging to oral health and general health
2 minute read
UPDATE: From October 1st 2022 all nicotine vaping products required a prescription. In May 2023, single-use disposable vapes were banned, tobacco taxes increased and vapes can now only be sold in pharmacies in an effort to curb widespread use in young people.
If you're trying to quit smoking, or are concerned about the harmful effects of nicotine and tobacco, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or vaping) could seem like a safer option than traditional cigarettes.
However, these devices can still be harmful to your health in many ways, including your oral health.
Vaping liquids can contain a number of chemicals and heavy metals that can cause possible long-term damage to teeth and gums and increase other oral health risks.
E-cigarette use and vaping amongst young people has increased over recent years with exposure via social media and targeted strategies that by-pass Australian advertising law.
Electronic cigarette companies create candy-like flavours which may glamourise these products to appeal young people.
The position of key Australian health organisations such as Australian Medical Association (AMA), Cancer Council Australia and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) is that e-cigarettes normalise the act of smoking and attract young people and require greater regulation.
Research is still ongoing into the long-term effects of e-cigarettes and vapours on oral health, but known risks include:
Dry mouth occurs when the function of the salivary glands is impaired and there is not enough saliva produced to cleanse and hydrate the mouth or neutralise acids on teeth.
Vaping aerosols can increase the risk of dry mouth, which in turn increases your risk of developing a range of oral health problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, mouth sores and oral cancer. Dry mouth can also cause bad breath.
Gum disease is the inflammation of the gums in response to bacteria. Untreated gum disease can eventually lead to gum recession or tooth loss, as well as being a risk factor for a number of diseases throughout the body.
Vaping can increase the risk of gum disease and inflammation by causing changes in bacteria levels in the mouth and heating up the mouth to help bacteria multiply. The risk of gum disease may be higher with flavoured vaping liquids.
Nicotine or other compounds in vaping liquids can also stain teeth through frequent use or when they remain on tooth surfaces for longer. These substances on teeth can also attract bacteria, increasing your oral health risks.
E-cigarettes are not recommended by health experts as a solution for quitting smoking. Stopping smoking completely is the best way to lower your risk factor for oral health and general health problems, which may eventually reach the level of a non-smoker.
If you need help to quit, you can talk to your dentist or doctor for advice or call Quitline on 13 78 48. If you find it hard to quit completely, cutting down on the number of e-cigarettes you smoke can lower your health risks proportionally. Drinking water after vaping can also help to reduce its effects.
It's also important to maintain good oral hygiene to help protect your teeth and gums against plaque and lower your risk of dental problems. For most people, dentists recommend:
If you have any concerns about your oral health and you want to talk to a local dentist in southern Perth, call our friendly team today on (08) 9470 3944 for advice or to book an appointment at EVP Dental. You can also book online.