It's not just your doctor who wants you to quit smoking. Because cigarette smoke is bad for your oral health as well as the rest of your body, dentists have long been trying to get their patients to give up the smokes.
As smoking is a very difficult habit to quit, people are increasingly switching to e-cigarettes instead. This gives you nicotine to alleviate the physical withdrawal symptoms and a similar experience to smoking that helps replace the habit. While this is almost certainly better than smoking, it's not completely without its risks.
Take a look at the ways vaping can affect your oral health, and make sure you let your dentist know you if use an e-cigarette.
Even when it's not in tobacco smoke, nicotine can be a risky substance. When you use an e-cig, the nicotine in the vapour causes reduced blood flow to your gums and other parts of your mouth.
Over time, the reduced blood flow leads to your gums receding, which can become a serious problem. This exposes parts of the teeth that should be protected by your gums, and it makes the gums themselves more sensitive. It may also make it more difficult to notice gum disease because the bleeding normally associated with it is reduced.
Inhaling that hot vapour can really dry out your mouth and throat. While this seems like a minor irritation, it can have a big effect on your oral health.
Saliva helps control bacterial growth, so having a dry mouth means the bacteria are able to multiply more quickly. At best, this will cause bad breath, and at the worst, it increases your chances of tooth decay. Keep yourself well hydrated and chew a sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production.
Nicotine is a fairly strong stimulant, and that can cause you to grind your teeth quite hard, which wears down their surfaces. If you're someone who is predisposed to teeth grinding, nicotine can make it particularly bad.
Ask your dentist for advice on controlling your grinding, and try to be mindful of it so you can stop yourself when it's happening.
The big unknowns
Tobacco has been used for a long time, which has given scientists plenty of time to research its effects. Vaping, on the other hand, appeared fairly recently and became popular quickly, so research is still in the very early stages.
There's a lot that hasn't yet been determined, such as whether it increases the risk of mouth cancers. Many of the potential risks are due to nicotine, so switching to a nicotine-free vape juice as soon as possible can help. However, it's possible some of the other substances are also harmful, so keep a close eye on your oral health and try to reduce and stop vaping over time if you can.