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Vaping has been in the news a lot lately because doctors are seeing teens with serious health problems because of it. People started vaping as an alternative to smoking because they thought it was better for them. The problem is that vaping is popular with people who are much younger than people who smoke cigarettes.
As time goes on and more and more people experience the effects of vaping, we learn more about how bad it is for you. We are dentists, so of course we care about the health of your teeth. Vaping is bad for your teeth, so the answer is YES.
All vaping is bad for you, which is something we’ll talk about next. Some people put more nicotine in their e-cig than in a cigarette, which is why vaping with nicotine is bad for you. People may vape more often than they used to smoke because they think it’s safe and they can do it in many places that don’t let people smoke.
Nicotine is bad for your oral health because it cuts off the blood flow to your gum tissues. People who smoke and chew tobacco are more likely to get gum disease that gets worse over time. Since there is less blood flow, the gums might not have the usual swelling that comes with gum disease. This is dangerous because it makes the disease “silent,” which means the patient might not notice any symptoms.
Nicotine also makes it harder for your body to heal after an injury, an infection, or surgery. Patients who vape are more likely to have problems after surgery, such as dry sockets, infections, and dental implants that don’t work.
Many people, especially teens, think that they don’t have to worry if they don’t put nicotine in their e-cigarettes or vape pens. Unfortunately, nicotine isn’t the only thing in vape liquid that is bad for you.
Propylene glycol is a clear liquid that helps the other ingredients in e-cigarette liquid do their jobs. There are two really bad things that happen to the mouth when propylene glycol is used.
It breaks down into acids that are very strong. We know that acids make teeth much more likely to get cavities because they weaken and soften the enamel. It also takes water from the saliva and tissues in the mouth, making the mouth dry. Saliva is important because it protects your teeth from acid and your gums from germs. If you don’t have it, you are more likely to get cavities and gum disease.
Vegetable glycerin is another ingredient in e-cig liquids that bacteria in the mouth can’t break down and use to make holes in the teeth. But that doesn’t mean it’s all right. Studies show that it changes the way dental plaque feels and looks.
Plaque is the soft buildup that forms on the teeth and gums. It is made up of bacteria, food particles, and dead cells from the mouth’s lining. Both cavities and gum disease are caused by the bacteria in plaque. Vaping makes the plaque on your teeth stickier and harder to clean off. Because of this change, cavities and gum disease are more likely to happen.
One cool thing about vaping for teens is that they can make their own fun flavors. You can find a huge variety of flavorings online and in vape shops. The flavorings don’t have any sugar in them, but they do make tooth enamel less hard in some way. Basically, they soften the outer layer of the teeth, which makes it easier for bacteria that cause cavities to attack the tooth with acid.
Another scary thing about vaping that you may have heard about in the news is that there is a small but always-present chance that the pen or e-cig will explode in someone’s mouth. These accidents happen when the batteries get too hot and the volatile liquids inside them catch fire. At least one person has died from injuries caused by an e-cig explosion, and a lot of other people have been hurt very badly.
The popularity of vaping has grown faster than scientific research, so we don’t even know all the bad things it can do to the body. It’s a big worry for young people today because it’s more appealing to them than smoking cigarettes. Even though some young students say they would never touch a cigarette or other tobacco products, they vape every day.
The risk comes from thinking that vaping is safe, even though it is clear that it is not.
Our dentists and dental hygienists can tell when your oral health is changing. When we see a teen whose saliva and plaque levels used to be fine but are now dry and sticky, we start to ask questions. No one is forced to tell us anything. We just want to make sure they know how dangerous something they might think of as a fun thing to do can be.
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