In recent years, vaping has been on the rise, especially among the younger generation. Although many consider it to be a safer alternative to conventional smoking, it isn’t completely harmless. It’s no secret that vaping is harmful to the body in countless ways. But did you know that vaping can harm your gums, too? Continue reading to learn how it may affect your gum health.
What is the connection between vaping and gum disease?
According to the latest research by the NYU College of Dentistry, e-cigarette users possess a unique collection of microorganisms that’s different from that of smokers and non-smokers. Some bacteria commonly known to be linked with gum disease are found to be prevalent in the mouths of vapers. These include the Fusobacterium, Bacteroidales, and Porphyromonas.
How are oral bacteria important to us?
The oral cavity is a window to the body and is home to many microbial species that reside in our respiratory and digestive tracts. Studies have shown that changes in the community of bacteria and other microorganisms inside our mouth contribute to several systemic health issues, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, as well as several oral health problems like halitosis, caries, and gum disease.
Vaping alters the microbial environment inside our mouths. The dysfunctional oral microbial environment affects our body’s ability to fight off disease by altering the levels of some cytokines (proteins that regulate the host immune response). Certain cytokines are associated with an imbalance in oral bacteria and can increase the risk for gum disease. One of these, TNF alpha, was found to be significantly elevated among vapers. Certain cytokines (for example, IL-4) are also normally reduced in individuals with gum disease and begin to increase during healing after treatment. Oddly enough, the levels of IL-4 and IL-1? were found to be decreased in e-cigarette smokers. This suggests that some bacteria living in the oral environment of vapers actively suppress the body’s immune responses. Vapers with a compromised immune response are more prone to developing gum inflammation and infection.
Need another reason to ditch the nicotine from your vape juice? Your oral health may be at risk.
Although dentists still debate whether vaping is more harmful to your gums than smoking, one thing is for sure: there is a strong link between vaping and gum disease. The main culprit is nicotine, of course, but the other components of e-liquids, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, and flavorings, when combined can wreak havoc on your gum health. Albeit it’s a safer alternative to smoking, it doesn’t come without risks of its own. Gum disease can turn into a serious oral health concern if it goes untreated. Thankfully, it can be treated if caught in its early stages by cutting out bad habits, following a strict oral hygiene routine, and seeing your dentist regularly. Quitting vaping can seem impossible, but it’s totally doable with the right tools, self-control, and support. And trust me, the benefits are worth it!