We’ve all seen the commercials about how bad smoking is for you. But did you know that vaping has the same negative effects on your teeth and gums as smoking does? Since e-cigarettes and vaping often doesn’t include tobacco, it’s often seen as the healthier alternative, but your oral health suffers just the same. Let’s discuss vaping vs smoking.

About one in 5 adults smoke, and it’s one of the main factors of gum disease. Let’s take a look at some of the harmful effects of vaping and smoking.

  • Excess bacteria in the mouth
  • Dry mouth
  • Irritation/inflamed gums
  • Cell death

Vaping and smoking have also directly been linked to:

  • Tooth decay
  • Bad breath
  • Periodontal disease
  • Bone loss
  • Tooth loss

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Vaping vs Smoking: Weakened Immune System

Basically, smoking affects your immune system and weakens its defenses against bacteria and other outside sources. If you’re smoking, it’s much harder to keep your mouth clean and free of bacteria. When your mouth isn’t getting rid of that surplus of bacteria, it can develop issues like gum disease. If you smoke/vape:

  • You’re twice as likely to deal with gum disease
  • The more you smoke, the greater your risk
  • Gum disease treatments may not be as effective

The main thing you can do to greatly reduce that risk of gum disease is to stop smoking/vaping and keep up with a good oral health routine. When gum disease isn’t treated, it can cause tooth loss, painful chewing, swollen gums, gums that pull away, etc. According to the American Cancer Society, “Smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. It takes more than 480,000 lives each year. That’s one of every five deaths.” No smoking is safe. Learn ore about Gum Disease: How can I prevent it? How does it affect my body?

“We feel that the following article from America’s Tooth Fairy is so important, we wanted to cite it here.” – Dr. Roberts

4 Ways Vaping Can Ruin Your Teen’s Smile


The dangers of smoking cigarettes have been known for a long time so it’s understandable that smokers looking for a “healthier” way to get their nicotine fix have switched to vaping. This nicotine delivery system uses electronic cigarettes to turn e-liquid or “vape juice” into an aerosol vapor that is inhaled. The modern e-cigarette device was created by Hon Lik, a Chinese inventor who lost his father to lung cancer, as a way to help smokers quit smoking. However, due to the perception that vaping is a harmless alternative to traditional tobacco products and the enticing flavors that can be added to the juice, non-smokers–including an alarming number of teens–have also begun vaping.

‍‍A recent survey shows that as many as 37% of high school seniors and more than 17% of eighth-graders vaped in the previous year.

Some parents may not be concerned by this statistic‒after all, at least they’re not smoking, right? The problem is, not only are kids who vape at a higher risk of smoking traditional cigarettes in the future, they’re also causing permanent damage to their gums and risking tooth loss. Listed below are four ways vaping is detrimental to oral health:

1. Nicotine can lead to gum disease and tooth loss.

While vape juice contains a much lower amount of nicotine than traditional tobacco products (and can contain none at all depending on the user,) the negative effect of nicotine on gums is well known. Not only does nicotine restrict blood flow to the gums, it also affects our mouth’s natural ability to fight infection and replenish connective tissue, leading to a higher risk of gum disease and tooth loss.

If the thought of tooth loss doesn’t deter the desire to smoke or vape, consider that gum disease can contribute to other more serious diseases. Even without nicotine, other ingredients in vape juice can deteriorate oral health.

2. Propylene glycol is toxic to enamel and soft tissue.

One of the main ingredients in vape juice is propylene glycol (PG), which is safe to eat and inhale but when used orally breaks down into acids that damage enamel, and propionaldehyde, which irritates soft tissue. PG also causes dry mouth, taking away essential saliva, leading to cavities and gum disease.

While drinking water can help rehydrate the mouth, it’s not a replacement for saliva, which contains compounds that help protect teeth from the damage of Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria that causes tooth decay. Even worse, teens are likely to drink soda or energy drinks to get rid of dry mouth. This magnifies the damage caused by PG because these drinks contain sugar that feeds the bacteria and acids that further erode tooth enamel. Since traditional tobacco products don’t contain PG, this is one way vaping is worse for oral health.

3. Vegetable glycerin and flavorings help bacteria stick to (already soft) teeth.

Vegetable glycerin (VG) is a slightly sticky liquid sweetener that helps Streptococcus mutans to stick to grooves on the biting surfaces of teeth. In addition, when mixed with the flavorings that draw teens to enjoy vaping, the combination causes four times as many microbes to stick to teeth and double the growth of biofilm. Flavorings also decrease the hardness of tooth enamel by 27%.

When combined with the damage caused by nicotine and PG, VG and flavorings create the perfect conditions for rampant decay, infections in the gums and tooth loss. That’s not cool.

4. Lithium batteries pose a risk of overheating and explosions.

While we can feel the collective eye-roll from adults who vape, the fact remains that the lithium batteries contained in a specific type of e-cig called a “mechanical mod” have been known to explode and cause extensive damage to the mouth and face.

Although not very common, they are generally caused by the misuse or improper care of the device. Considering that teens are likely not as responsible in the care of their e-cig device, it’s reasonable to assume they are at higher risk than most adult vapers to be injured.

It can be difficult to convince a teen who is desperate to fit in with his peers that the negative oral health effects of vaping and smoking cigarettes are worth quitting. But considering the impact a healthy smile has on the self-esteem and future career success of your teen, the argument is worth it.

Diseases Highly Linked to Oral Health

Gum disease is serious and has been linked with multiple health complications, including stroke and heart disease, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Similar research shows that 90 percent of all systematic diseases have oral manifestations. This means that diseases that involve most of our body often show symptoms and signs in our mouth. These often take the form of:

  • Swollen gums
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Dry mouth
  • Gum problems
  • Broken teeth

At the University of North Carolina, studies found that people with gum disease were three times as likely to have a stroke and twice as likely to die from a heart attack. Those are some scary statistics. But the good news is, your dentist is here to help and knows exactly what to look for to keep you healthy and safe! Let us do the legwork and check your overall health – make an appointment today! Learn More about Why Do I Need to have a Dental Exam Every 6 Months?

When to See a Dentist

There could be underlying oral health conditions and certain symptoms may be a sign. Make an appointment with your dentist, if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • receding gums
  • swollen or bleeding gums
  • frequent dry mouth
  • loose teeth
  • sores or mouth ulcers that don’t seem to heal
  • mouth pain or toothache
  • changes in sensitivity to temperature

If you experience any of the above symptoms in addition to having a fever or swelling in your neck or face, seek emergency medical treatment.

Related Article: Oral Cancer Screening: When Was Your Last Dental Appointment?

Local dentist, Travis A. Roberts and his experienced, friendly team at Adams Dental Group offer affordable family dentistry and gentle dental care in the Kansas City, KS area. We have two locations that are conveniently located and offer appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At Adams Dental Group, we provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to specialty procedures, including dental implants, dentures, endodontic or root canal treatment, teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at our West location (913) 296-8030 or our East location (913) 621-3113 to schedule an appointment.

May 11th, 2021

Posted In: Dental Health Tips

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