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28 May 2019

Principal Dentist Dr Jignesh Patel looks at this increasingly popular habit.

Whether the smell of cigarette smoke or the sweet shop aroma given off by plumes of vapour from people who ‘vape’ is worse, is open to debate. There is no doubt though that more and more people are taking up this habit.

Whilst some may be doing this as their first ‘smoking’ habit, the majority probably come to it in order to replace the more traditional cigarette, often in the hope of avoiding the health issues associated with them.

By and large, the move from tobacco products to vaping is considered a positive thing as far as both general and oral health goes. There is plenty of evidence linking smoking tobacco products with a number of serious oral health issues, including periodontitis and mouth cancer. If vaping is the only way in which our Surbiton patients can manage to stop smoking, then vaping is probably a step in the right direction. As long term vaping effects are not yet fully understood though, we would encourage patients to try other ways to stop completely first.

Is vaping harmful?

As mentioned above, there may be long term health issues caused by vaping. Sometimes, the evidence only comes to light after many years. Traditional tobacco cigarettes were actually once promoted by some doctors as a means of relaxation and were once considered to be perfectly safe, but of course we now know the real truth!

Although we don’t yet know whether vaping is entirely safe or not, there seems to be little doubt that it will prove to be less harmful than cigarettes. There are, however, a number of oral health issues that patients of the Confidental Clinic may wish to consider before taking it it up, even as a substitute for traditional tobacco products.

Receding gums

Although it is possible to get nicotine free vaping liquid, the vast majority of vapers don’t buy these. As nicotine is highly addictive and is found in cigarettes, changing to a nicotine free one would probably not prove satisfactory, at least initially. As well as being addictive, nicotine also causes the tiny blood vessels in the gums to narrow and can contribute to gum recession. This in turn exposes the unprotected dentin layer of the tooth root, and tooth decay is a real possibility.

Gum disease

There are a number of ways in which vaping might contribute to gum disease. The vapour contains a number of chemicals and these might have an inflammatory effect on the gum tissue. With the blood vessels narrowing, this makes fighting any gum disease or other infections more difficult.

As with traditional cigarettes, many vapers find that their new habit also causes them to have a dry mouth. As we have mentioned before, this is a significant contributor to gum disease. If you smoke or vape, it is wise to make sure that you stay well hydrated.

Staining

Because vaping liquids do not contain tar, there is significantly reduced risk of teeth staining from this habit. Whilst there is no evidence of this problem though, it is always possible that, in the long term, it may be found to damage the enamel surface. If this proves to be the case, a rougher tooth surface, from damaged enamel, is more prone to staining than smooth healthy enamel. Current evidence says that the risk of this is low to non existent, but it is worth considering if you want to be sure to have healthy teeth.

Lung and general respiratory problems

Whilst currently not considered to be anywhere near as bad as traditional smoking, more recent research is suggesting that vaping can actually compromise lung and overall respiratory function to some degree. Further evidence is still being collated along with additional clinical tests.

Whether you smoke, vape or avoid it altogether, you still need to look after your teeth. Part of this involves regular supervision from a dental professional such as those in the team at the Confidental Clinic. If you live in the Surbiton area and would like to find out more about our private and NHS dental practice, please call us for an initial appointment on 020 8399 1291.

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