New Research Says E-Cigs Might Be Worse for Oral Health Than Tobacco

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Many people have been switching from tobacco cigarettes to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes, e-cigs, also described as vaping). Not only is this because it’s the cool thing to do–everyone wants to have the hip new vice–but also because people think it might be safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes.

We haven’t had as many years to investigate harms from e-cigs, but now research is seeming to indicate that e-cigs may not be safer for your oral health at least than traditional cigarettes with tobacco.

Man is smoking electronic cigarette or vaporizer.

Influencing Your Oral Microbiome

It’s hard to think about, but for oral bacteria, your mouth is actually a tiny ecosystem–called a microbiome–and there are various organisms that are adapted to living in that ecosystem. In the past, people had many neutral or beneficial bacteria that used to live in our mouths. But over time our microbiome has changed for many reasons–such as eating a diet high in sugar. These changes mean that we now have many harmful bacteria that are adapted to life in our mouths.

Smoking can also change your microbiome, encouraging the growth of even more harmful oral bacteria. Researchers wanted to find out if vaping also changes the oral microbiome. To do this, they took plaque samples from 100 healthy individuals in five different groups:

  • Controls who didn’t use any type of cigarette
  • E-cigarette users
  • Cigarette smokers
  • People who used both types of cigarettes
  • People who used to smoke but now only use e-cigs

They started out by sampling the overall genetic material of bacteria living in the samples. This determined that the bacteria living in people who used e-cigs was different from that of either controls or cigarette users. It showed that e-cigs influenced the microbiome as much as tobacco cigarettes did.

In their analysis, they also found that many of the bacteria living in e-cig smokers’ mouths had harmful adaptations or adaptations that would make them harder to remove.

Is the Harm Worse?

According to researchers, their finding shows definitely that e-cigs are not safer for oral health than tobacco. With respect to gum disease, they said the impact “may be similar to or greater than smoking.”

We can’t use this single study as an indicator of the true gum disease risk. But there have been several studies showing that e-cigs can damage your oral health.

Not only that, but as the popularity of e-cigs increases, we are becoming more aware of the dangers related to fires and explosions of the devices. Recent studies show these are much more common than we used to think, and may account for as much as 15,000 injuries in the US, including thousands of traumatic oral injuries.

Restoring Damage from E-Cigs and Cigarettes

Whether you smoke e-cigs or traditional cigarettes, you may suffer serious gum disease, tooth damage, and tooth loss.

Fortunately, this damage can be repaired with restorative dentistry. Once gum disease has been treated, lost teeth can be replaced with dental implants, whether these teeth were lost to gum disease or an explosion. And with the expertise of Nashville, TN cosmetic dentist Dr. Kent E. White, your smile will look whole and natural again.

To learn more about smile restoration, please call (615) 383-6787 today for an appointment at the Center for Advanced Dentistry.