Vaping and Your Dental Health: Get the Facts Before You Start


The health risks surrounding smoking have been around for decades. According to the CDC, cigarette smoking leads to disease and disability and harms every organ system of the body. Smoking is now seen as so harmful, many former smokers are looking for alternatives, like vaping. But before you throw out your pack for an e-cigarette, learn the facts about vaping and how it affects your overall health. 

What is Vaping?

Vaping, or e-cigarettes, are devices that heat liquid nicotine and flavoring into an aerosol that the user inhales. The Surgeon General notes that e-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including:

  • Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs

  • Flavorants like diacetyl, a chemical linked to lung disease

  • Volatile organic compounds

  • Heavy metals, such as nickel, tin and lead 

Nicotine and Your Dental Health

No matter if it is smoking or vaping, the primary agent in both is nicotine. John Hopkins Medicine states that not only is nicotine highly addictive, but it also raises your blood pressure and spikes your adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack.

Your Gums: Because nicotine reduces the amount of blood flow through your veins, your gums don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. Your gums starve from lack of oxygen and start to recede.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth

  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food

  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before

  • Loose or separating teeth

  • Pus between your gums and teeth

  • Sores in your mouth

  • Persistent bad breath

  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

  • A change in the fit of partial dentures

Your Saliva: Nicotine restricts your mouth’s ability to produce saliva, which is the mouth’s main defense against bacteria and tooth decay. The American Dental Association states saliva also:

  • Washes away food and debris from teeth and gums

  • Helps moisten and break down food to ease swallowing and enhances the ability to taste

  • Provides disease-fighting substances throughout your mouth to help prevent cavities and other infections

  • Helps keep the surface of your teeth strong by providing high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate ions at the tooth surface. 

Your Dental Surgery: The nicotine in vaping makes healing after dental surgery much more difficult. Dentistry Today reported that nicotine inhibits wound healing, increases the risks of anesthesia and may lead to complications during and after surgery. The American Society of Anesthesiologists recommends quitting smoking as soon as possible before your procedure as it:

  • Puts you at greater risk for pneumonia

  • Makes it more likely you’ll need a ventilator after surgery

  • Increases your chance for infection

It’s essential to talk to your dentist about any nicotine use prior to a procedure. Your dentist is like any other healthcare provider and wants what is best for your health. Quitting all nicotine use will enable you to have a healthy mouth (and body) for years to come.

Dr. Craig Vacek