Is Vaping Bad For Your Teeth?

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

It seems like vaping has taken over the world. Everywhere you go, people are flocking to this tobacco-smoking alternative. However, since it’s still fairly new and research is still ongoing, the health effects are often underrepresented. This includes dental health effects. So, what do you need to know when it comes to dental health and vaping?

Vaping can cause all sorts of issues including gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth discoloration. Vape liquid contains propylene glycol, which can turn into different types of acid and damage your teeth. Ask your dentist if you have any concerns regarding vaping.

When it comes to vaping, what do you need to know to keep your teeth healthy? Is switching to nicotine-free liquid enough? If you decide to keep the habit, will you always be damaging your teeth? We’ll answer all those questions and more – just read on!

Can Vaping Harm Your Teeth?

Young handsome hipster man insunglasse sitting in cafe with a cup of coffee and vaping

Vaping, while seen as an alternative to harmful tobacco smoke, isn’t the safe activity that some might expect it to be. It’s easy to mistake this modern take on humanity’s relationship with the tobacco plant as better for you than traditional smoking. Many people are curious about vaping’s effect on your teeth.

Vaping can cause damage to your teeth. The ingredients in vape liquids, specifically the flavor additives like these examples (on Amazon), pose a threat to your enamel and gums and create an environment where tooth loss or cavities are more common. Even nicotine-free options can cause some severe problems for your teeth.

It might surprise you to find this information out. For many years, marketing has bombarded us with messaging that vaping is safe. Outside of the effects on your respiratory system, an often-overlooked side effect of regular use is tooth issues.

With new research coming around detailing the downsides of vaping, the public is becoming more aware of these threats.

For many, this comes as too little too late, as the damage is already done. So, if you are a regular vaper or looking to curb your smoking habit with an alternative, what kinds of issues should you be aware of?

Common Dental Side Effects From Vaping

E-cigarettes and vaping have come a long way since the early introduction of “safer” alternatives to smoking tobacco. With the introduction of the Juul and the popularity of vaping kits with diverse liquid flavors, it feels like vaping has become a global culture.

However, most people are still unaware of the dental side effects of vaping. Vaping can cause some serious side effects, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Excess mouth bacteria
  • Inflamed gums
  • Tooth loss
  • Gingivitis
  • Teeth staining

The most common of these effects is having a dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. The main culprit is an ingredient in vape liquid known as propylene glycol (PG). This colorless liquid creates the signature vapor. Unfortunately, it can cause more damage than just drying out your mouth.

When it breaks down in the mouth, PG turns into acetic acid, lactic acid, and propionaldehyde. Now, if you don’t know, acid can be a real killer of teeth. Just like you need to watch your intake of acidic food and drink, you need to be concerned about acidic compounds from vape liquid.

Another common side effect is gum irritation. This can be caused by both PG and nicotine. If your vape liquid contains nicotine, it can cause irregularities in your gum’s blood flow. This can lead to harm to the tissue, irritation, and even tooth loss.

Is Vaping Bad For Your Enamel?

Enamel is the outside layer of your teeth. It plays an essential role in overall dental health, so keeping it protected is critical.

Loss of enamel can cause sensitivity in your teeth or even more severe issues. If you’re vaping, you may be curious as to how this might affect your enamel.

Vaping may damage your enamel. Not only does the acidic breakdown of propylene glycol hurt your enamel, but nicotine and other juice ingredients may discolor your enamel as well. This can lead to issues like tooth sensitivity, pain, and cavities.

There are a few ingredients in vape juice that can cause some damage to your enamel. This double punch of damage means that keeping up with teeth brushing is a necessity if vaping is in your daily schedule.

You may even need to switch to a toothpaste for sensitive mouths since you won’t be able to mitigate all damage.

Your enamel is very durable. In fact, it’s the hardest substance in your body – harder than your bones. Even so, acidic compounds and other materials can cause some serious damage to the outside of your teeth.

Unfortunately, you can’t just grow your enamel back. While you can use special toothpaste to mitigate the effects of tooth sensitivity, you won’t find a cure to get your enamel back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

What Are the Serious Medical Side Effects of Vaping?

Two Vape E-Cig and Three vape juice bottles

Vaping can also cause cells in your mouth to prematurely die, leading to loss of teeth and other serious disorders. It can cause pre-cancerous lesions to appear in the mouth due to its ability to cause microcellular mutations.

Vaping can also cause vasoconstriction, which means that less blood is able to get to where it needs to in the gums and teeth. This is important especially when there is something the body is trying to fight in the presence of bacteria or other disease. 

Less blood flow means that your immune response becomes delayed, which can drastically delay healing. This could also worsen the effects of any dental infections since the body is trying to fight with fewer available white blood cells. 

Can Vaping Stain Your Teeth?

If you’re vaping, you may be doing more damage to your visual image than you think. While smoking tobacco has a strong reputation for yellow teeth and bad breath, you may be wondering if vaping can lead you down the same road.

Vaping can discolor your teeth. It may not happen as quickly as it would if you were smoking tobacco, but it is still an issue you’ll want to understand completely. A few of the ingredients in vape liquid can lead to discolored teeth.

If you vape, you should be worried about the effects of discoloration on your teeth. However, that’s not the only problem that should be on your mind. Vegetable glycerin and other flavorings commonly found in vape liquid can also cause some serious bacterial damage.

They coat the teeth with a slightly sweet film. This creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Bacteria will lead to cavities, which will fill your mouth with unsightly black spots.

Can A Dentist Tell If I Vape?

Having an honest relationship with your dentist is an important part of dental care. Of course, you might not want to be embarrassed, but you should leave that attitude at the door. Your mouth health is much more important than your ego.

You should always tell your dentist of any habits that may be causing dental issues, including vaping. It’s more than likely that they’d be able to tell after a quick examination anyway.

If you do intend to vape and are willing to battle with your dentist, their response will always be for you to stop. They will inform you of all the same things we’ve touched on in this article so far.

Of course, the final choice will rest in your hands, but be prepared for a stern talking-to from any dental professional who knows you vape.

Wrapping Up

Vaping is becoming more and more popular, but the dental risks remain the same. If you’re looking for a safe alternative to smoking tobacco, vaping can seem like the answer.

As we’ve learned, though, it’s not the substitute some make it out to be. It can cause gum disease, tooth decay, dry mouth, and plenty of other issues. 

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