In addition to their obvious health risks, a new study reveals that electronic cigarettes may also contribute to tooth decay. As per US News, vaping appears to accelerate tooth decay, which, if left untreated, can result in tooth loss.
Dr. Karina Irusa, an assistant professor of comprehensive care at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston and the study’s principal investigator, advised vapers to be aware of the potential negative oral health implications of vaping.
“If you vape, be sure to let your dentist know, as it may be necessary to modify your preventive regimen in a more aggressive manner than we would for the ordinary patient,” she said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.1 million people and 2 million youths use tobacco-based vaping products in the United States. That’s a great deal of possible dental decay. Irusa and her colleagues reviewed data from over 13,000 patients treated at Tufts dentistry clinics between 2019 and 2022 for the study. Everyone was 17 or older.
Although the majority of patients did not vape, the researchers discovered that 79 percent of those who did had a high risk for cavities, compared to around 60 percent of those who did not. Irusa stated that e-cigarettes may increase the risk of tooth disease due to the sweet and sticky nature of vaping juice.
Additionally, vaping fluids alter the oral flora, making it more hospitable to germs that cause tooth decay. She also found that vaping appears to promote tooth decay in regions where it does not often occur, such as the bottom edges of the front teeth.
Several laboratory investigations have demonstrated that the vapor from e-cigarette liquid stimulates the growth of harmful oral germs. Irusa remarked, “The bacteria that actually cause deterioration when exposed to this vapor appear to be more virulent, merely more aggressive, and are able to survive under more demanding conditions.”
“We observe identical problems with gum health with e-liquids as we do with cigarettes,” she said.
“From the perspective of the gums as well as the teeth, a large cavity will only worsen if nothing is done. Then you either lose the tooth or require significant dental treatment to save it, “Irusa elaborated.
She suggested that dentists should routinely inquire about e-cigarette use as part of a patient’s medical history. This includes adolescents, as approximately 8% of middle and high school students in the United States admitted to using e-cigarettes in 2021, according to a Tufts news release.
The use of prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste, fluoride rinse, and fluoride treatments, as well as a strict schedule of brushing and flossing, should be maintained by those who vape. Irusa added that they require examinations more frequently than every six months.
Patricia Folan is the head of clinical programs at the Great Neck, New York, Northwell Health Center for Tobacco Control. She stated, “Although this study has some limitations, including a small sample size, the relationship between dental caries and e-cigarette use is a worry that present and prospective e-cigarette users should address.”
Folan stated that research reveals e-cigarettes are not as safe as marketed. “E-cigarettes are associated with significant rates of addiction as well as cardiac and respiratory disease. Additional research is required to confirm the effect of e-cigarettes on oral health, “She continued.
Folan stated, “Health care practitioners, especially dentists, should inquire about all patients’ tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, counsel them to quit, and give them with resources to do so.” She highlighted that cessation drugs and information about local programs and quitlines should be included in these tools. The study was published online in the Journal of the American Dental Association on November 23.