More and more smokers are making the switch to e-cigarettes. The obvious advantages of using e-cigarettes are that they do not contain tobacco and they don’t produce smoke. Instead, they are battery-powered and work by producing an aerosol that you “vape.” This can significantly reduce many of the consequences of smoking, from lung cancer to tooth stains.
E-cigarettes, however, are not free of concern, particularly when it comes to your oral health. They do contain nicotine that is derived from the tobacco plant. Although the amount of nicotine used may be small, studies show that nicotine, whether from a traditional cigarette or other means, can have a negative impact on the mouth, gums and tongue. Here are some ways that nicotine (found in e-cigarettes) can wreak your oral health:
- Gum Recession:
- Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor. Therefore the amount of blood flow to your gums can be significantly reduced, which means your gums may not get enough oxygen and nutrients to survive.
- Masks Gum Disease:
- Gum disease is not a condition that you want to go unnoticed. If left untreated, this gum infection will cause surrounding bone loss and even tooth loss. Unfortunately, nicotine can make it harder for you and your dentist to diagnose gum disease. In most cases, the first signs of gum disease are bleeding, irritated or swollen gums. However, nicotine can mask or suppress these telltale signs because it causes restricted blood flow to your gum tissues.
- Bad Breath:
- You may think that you’ve eliminated the potential for bad breath if you’ve stopped smoking tobacco. However, as a vasoconstrictor, nicotine also hinders adequate saliva production. Without enough saliva, bacteria is allowed to accumulate and dry mouth, tooth decay and bad breath can result.
- Worsens Bruxism:
- Nicotine is also considered a stimulant, which means it can trigger and intensify muscle movement. If you have a bruxism condition (teeth grinding), your nicotine habit will only make matters worse. As a result, you may suffer from worn down teeth and TMJ problems.
Making the switch from smoking to “vaping” is still considered a step towards better health. However, don’t dismiss the potential drawbacks of e-cigarettes as it pertains to your oral health. If you are using e-cigarettes, please let us know at Park South Dentistry. We will monitor your gum health more closely to ensure that symptoms of gum disease do not go unnoticed.