Smoking is an extremely unhealthy habit. It increases the risk of many cancers, heart attacks, strokes, and other serious diseases. It’s also bad for oral health, as it can lead to bad breath, gum disease, and even potentially life-threatening oral health problems.
Some smokers have switched to electronic cigarettes due to a belief that they’re safer and less harmful to overall health. But vaping isn’t just attracting existing smokers—it’s also bringing in people who previously didn’t smoke, including teens.
After years of a declining rate of teen smoking, health experts are reporting an alarming increase in the number of teens who use e-cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that more than 20 percent of high school students report using e-cigarettes within the past 30 days—an increase from 1.5 percent in 2011. Many of those teens go on to become regular smokers as well, further putting their health at risk.
What Are the Dental Health Risks of Smoking and Vaping?
The effects of cigarette and cigar smoking on dental health are well known. In addition to bad breath and yellow teeth, they include:
Weakened enamel—Cigarettes are full of chemicals. When those chemicals come into contact with teeth, they weaken protective enamel, causing them to be more susceptible to bacteria. That can lead to tooth decay and sensitivity.
Gum disease—Healthy enamel naturally protects teeth from bacteria. When it gets eroded by cigarette smoke, bacteria can multiply more quickly and easily. Over time, too much oral bacteria can cause gum disease.
Oral cancer—There are at least 70 chemicals in cigarette smoke that are known carcinogens. Over time, frequent exposure to those chemicals can result in the development of oral cancers.
Vaping’s effects on dental health aren’t as well publicized as cigarette’s, but they share many similarities. Some of those effects include:
Reduced blood flow—When nicotine is inhaled via smoke or vapor, it causes reduced blood flow. That can result in an impaired ability to fight bacteria and can lead to gum disease.
Chemical-induced cellular damage—People often use vape cartridges that are filled with flavoring. Those cartridges contain chemicals that can cause cellular damage in the mouth, increasing the risk of oral diseases.
Stay on Top of Your Oral Health with a Dental Check-Up
Preventative exams, cleanings, and treatments are key to dental health, whether you smoke, vape, or just want to fight off cavities, gum disease, and oral cancers.