The new fad of vaping has swept the nation, and although this craze has certainly generated its share of controversy and mixed emotions, for the time being it appears that vaping is here to stay.
Initially arriving on the public scene several years back, vaping was introduced as a healthier option as opposed to tobacco use. By allowing users to receive a nicotine kick through ingesting smokeless vapor instead of smoking or chewing tobacco. While these various types of vapor generating electronic cigarettes (sometimes known as e-cigs or vape pens) have quickly become a hit amongst the general populous. Ongoing debates between both critics and supporters continue to revolve around what health benefits, issues and dangers of vaping that may associated with this new trend.
While tobacco in all its forms has obviously remained an enemy to the dental profession for a very long time, the recent arrival of vaping certainly indicates a change in this dynamic (and of course, change can be good or bad). Therefore, in response to this we have compiled a list of some of the pros, cons and dangers of vaping as opposed to smoking. As you will see in the following two columns, we break down vaping from an oral health standpoint, to better compare it with smoking and tobacco use. Remember although vaping might present less of a hazard to your gums and teeth than smoking, it does NOT mean it presents no hazard at all!
Vaping: The Pros
It’s no secret that prolonged tobacco use can absolutely devastate the oral health of the user, and when compared to vaping is significantly more dangerous. While vaping is certainly not harmless, it is in fact the safer option of the two.
- Won’t stain teeth: Despite much discussion and debate on this aspect, contrary to popular belief vaping will not actually discolor or stain your teeth, unlike cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other tobacco containing products.
- More hygienic: Let’s face it, tobacco is gross and very messy; certainly with vapor products, any problems with basic oral hygiene will be considerably less prevalent.
- Won’t cause oral cancer: As one of its primary selling points, it should be reiterated that vaping will not cause oral cancer, nor lead to any other type of cancer that we know of. That being said, remember that vaping is still a relatively new type of technology, thereby certain long-term health concerns may not yet be known.
Dangers of Vaping: The Cons
As mentioned previously, while promoting itself as a safer alternative as opposed to smoking, vaping is still not good for your teeth and if not regularly checked, can result in multitude of oral health problems.
- Gingivitis & Periodontitis: Due to the significant amount of nicotine present in vapor-emitting products, users of such products are at an increased risk of developing gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Such gum infections if not diagnosed and correctly treated can become significantly worse overtime.
- Gum recession: In addition to causing gum disease, the nicotine within electronic cigarettes may also cause the gum line to recede. Due to nicotine’s tendency to slow and reduce the flow of blood as it passes throughout the body, it ultimately cuts off the gums from receiving the necessary amount of nutrients and oxygen for survival, thus slowly killing the gum tissue.
- Hide symptoms/Prevent detection: To complete the trifecta of gum problems caused by vaping, by reducing the blood flow and killing off the gum tissue, vaping also hinders the dentist’s ability to detect the infection. Generally increased bleeding is a telltale sign that dentists look for in identifying gum disease; however, by suppressing the flow of blood, diagnosing the disease becomes increasingly difficult.
- Cause clenching and grinding: While this might not apply to everyone, if you do tend to clench or grind your teeth, then vaping might not be a good idea as nicotine is a muscle stimulant and may likely increase this tendency.
To Vape or Not to Vape?
After all that is the question, right?
Well the correct answer may differ from a tobacco user to a nonuser, so we’ll put it to you like this; If you are a smoker/tobacco user who is trying to quit or looking for a safer alternative, then yes vaping can provide that. However, if you are a nonsmoker and are simply curious about the new vaping trend, then please don’t try it! Although not nearly as dangerous as tobacco, vaping offers little to no health benefits, and can damage your gums and teeth.
While of course you are ultimately the deciding factor, and if you chose to partake in this new trend, certainly the choice is yours. However, while vaping might be the latest fad, a beautiful smile is something that never goes out of style, so choose wisely!
Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventative, restorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.