The goal seems simple - keep our teeth in good working order, looking and feeling healthy with no visible stains, colouring, gaps or abnormalities. But there are plenty of reasons why this can go wrong - it's not just sugary foods or fizzy drinks that can cause decay and stains. The dentists (who you should be visiting regularly for checkups) will tell you to cut out cigarettes for good. That’s because the tar from tobacco combustion and nicotine can at its worst cause mouth cancer and at the very minimum produce black stains, yellowing and bad breath. But what about e-cigarettes and the many potential side effects linked with the recommended cessation tool. Is vaping bad for your teeth? Can vaping stain your teeth or affect your long term oral health?
We all have one set of permanent teeth and staining can have long-lasting, or even worse, permanent effects on them. And even when staining is not permanent, it’s tough to remove for dental experts, let alone anyone who has tried those internet hacks such as, for example, using charcoal to whiten your teeth.
For this reason, it is not surprising then that the question of whether vaping does cause yellow teeth pops up now and again. Especially considering smoking is a proven stainer, and a bad one at that. For many years, we’ve been aware of the many health risks of smoking regular cigarettes, including the significant risks to our oral health posed by regular, long term cigarette usage.
Vaping has often been positioned as a healthier alternative to smoking, as vape juice contains far fewer ingredients and is missing many of the toxic chemicals associated with regular cigarette smoke. Electronic cigarettes or vapes are an excellent way for smokers to cut down or quit traditional cigarette smoking for good, as they are estimated to be 95% safer by the NHS and Public Health England. However, it’s important to continue to consider the side effects of vaping in the long term. There is always new research being carried out into the health effects of vaping long term and new developments in vape technology are making vaping safer every day. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind, whether you’re a long term vaper, ex-smoker or current smoker looking to quit to help keep yourself healthy. Dental health and oral health, in particular, are very important to keep in mind when smoking and vaping alike.
Smoking and Dental Health
It’s no secret that there are many toxic chemicals in regular cigarettes that can cause irreversible damage to lots of different parts of the body. A traditional cigarette contains more than 7000 different compounds, including some harmful chemicals which pose real health risks to regular smokers. Heavy and long-term smokers are at much higher risk of many different conditions, including heart disease and certain cancers, as well as a considerable number of oral health issues.
Smoking can damage your oral health in many ways, one of the most significant being the buildup of bacteria. Smoking damages your mouth’s ability to effectively fight bacteria and infections, which means that your mouth doesn’t have any defences in case of a severe infection. It does this by preventing saliva from acting as it usually would (this is what causes the dry or “fuzzy” mouth sensation that many smokers are familiar with). This makes it easier for bacteria to stick to your teeth and gums and prevents them from being “cleaned” as it usually would by your saliva. This build-up can also turn into tartar, which needs professional cleaning to remove. Bacteria in the teeth and gums can also lead to gum disease, periodontal disease, tooth decay or tooth loss, making it easier for bacteria to enter and cause painful issues.
Smoking also interferes with your regular circulation, which can be a real problem for your oral health. Poor circulation reduces the bacteria-fighting capabilities of your mouth even more and prevents the blood vessels in your mouth from doing their job. This can make the healing process after dental work, such as tooth extraction, dental implants or gum disease treatment longer and more painful. As well as this, the tar and nicotine in cigarettes very often cause staining and tooth enamel damage, which can be as painful as they are unsightly.
Other oral health issues that can be caused or exacerbated by smoking include:
·Increased risk of oral cancer
·Tooth sensitivity, due to enamel breakdown
·A loss of taste or smell
Does Vaping Stain Your Teeth?
The long-term effects of vaping aren’t always clear, as while there has been a huge increase in interest and research in the area in recent years, there isn't much historical data researchers can use. However, we do know that vaping doesn’t contain any tar and can be made nicotine-free, and these two substances are some of the most harmful in tobacco cigarettes when it comes to your oral health. If you do use nicotine in your vape, there may be a tiny hint of yellow hue when nicotine combines with oxygen molecules, but this is mild and less of an impact as you drop your nicotine strength.
Vaping is so popular among ex-smokers as it can help curb not just the familiar nicotine cravings that those trying to quit will know all too well, but also the physical cravings that many long-term smokers struggle to kick just as much. Because smoking also contains sugar, vapers still need to replace that habit and often find e-cigarettes a better like-for-like alternative. It’s great with e-liquids that you have so many flavours to pick from, so you can swap savoury for sweet. However, bear in mind some vape juices contain flavours and colourings that can also stain your teeth or turn them slightly yellow.
The physical tics associated with smoking, such as the act of moving your hand to your mouth, the feeling of holding something small and light and the sensation of inhaling are all things that you lose with traditional nicotine replacement therapies like patches, lozenges and sprays. Vaping also allows you to continue to take smoking breaks as you normally would, so you don’t have to give up the social aspect of cigarette usage either!
What Can You Do to Protect Your Oral Health?
When you’re vaping, there are several risks to your oral health that you should be aware of. The main thing to watch out for is nicotine, as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and vape juice flavourings (the other main ingredients in e-liquids) act as key ingredients in the production of everyday products, such as shower gels and food. Meanwhile, nicotine does still have adverse effects on the teeth and mouth, including tooth staining. If you can, try a lower nicotine strength or nicotine free e-liquid to help counteract this.
Vaping can also cause dry mouth, which contributes to poor salivary flow and bacteria buildup. However, as the bacteria buildup is primarily caused by the lack of saliva, rather than by any substances in the vapour itself, you can reduce this buildup as much as possible by staying hydrated regularly, including drinking water after vaping and leaving time between each vape session.
While there is still lots of research to be done regarding vaping and oral health, if you’re looking to quit smoking, vaping is one of the best ways to help you do so. If you’re looking to cut down or quit, we offer a wide selection of different starter kits to help you on your journey to becoming smoke-free.