It’s estimated that 5% of adults, or 1 in 20, now regularly use e-cigarettes. Called “vaping,” this habit is thought by many to be a safer alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, dentists, doctors, and researchers are finding that vaping is far from healthy! In addition to increasing your risk of general health problems, it also dramatically increases your risk of rampant tooth decay and other oral health issues. If you vape and want to avoid seeing a dentist in Green Hills for major dental work, keep reading to learn more and get valuable tips for maintaining a healthy smile.
How Vaping Damages Your Oral Health
The main oral health risk from vaping is severe cavities, although it also affects your gums and soft tissues as well. These risks are due to the ingredients in vaping liquid such as:
- Propylene glycol – This liquid alcohol is often added to foods such as baked goods and ice cream and breaks down into acids that dry out your mouth. Normally, saliva plays a critical role in cavity prevention by neutralizing cavity-causing acids. When you have dry mouth, you lose this protective benefit, leaving your teeth at high risk for cavities. Not to mention that dry mouth leads to bad breath and also affects your gums and soft tissues.
- Glycerin – Glycerin is another ingredient in vaping liquid that’s usually combined with different flavors. It’s very sticky and has been found to increase plaque in the mouth, making it much easier for cavity-causing bacteria to adhere to your teeth. In fact, a recent study found that when teeth are exposed to glycerin in vaping liquid, they carry 4 times as many bacteria than normal.
Strategies To Maintain Your Oral Health
Health professionals encourage everyone to quit smoking and vaping. Talk with your doctor or dentist about how to manage your nicotine withdrawals and look into the many online resources available that can help you kick the habit.
Also, here are some tips to protect your teeth from damage caused by vaping:
- See a dentist every six months – Regular checkups and cleanings are critical to preventing major dental problems and will save you a lot of time and money in the dental chair.
- Practice good oral hygiene at home – Brush at least twice a day and floss once. It’s also helpful to use a fluoride (anti-cavity) mouthwash twice a day for extra cavity prevention.
- Chew sugar-free gum – This simple habit stimulates salivary flow to counteract dry mouth and prevent tooth decay.
- Limit sugars in your diet – You don’t have to give up sugar completely, but try to make sweet foods and beverages a treat rather than something you have at every meal.
Unfortunately, vaping isn’t the safe alternative to smoking that people thought it was, and more research is being done all the time on how it affects your general and oral health. By quitting vaping and following these simple guidelines, you’ll prevent a lot of problems and stay healthier overall.
About the Author
Dr. Clayton Cummings is an award-winning family dentist in Green Hills and a graduate of The University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. He’s dedicated to providing outstanding dental care and always talks with his patients about the effects of their everyday habits, including vaping, to help them maintain a healthier smile. If you have any questions about vaping or your oral health, he can be reached via his website.