Comparing Dental Problems from Smoking and Vaping

Cigarette smoking is notorious for causing a lot of dental problems. Those problems include staining of one’s teeth, weakening and bleeding of gums, bad breath, and many more. But, do vapers really have better oral health than those who smoke? Does vaping also cause problems with oral health? You’ll know the answers to these questions once you make a comparison of the dental issues that plague smokers and vapers.

tobacco stains teeth

Teeth Stains Caused by Tobacco Smoking

A visible effect of smoking on one’s dental health is the yellowish stain of the teeth. The stain is caused by nicotine and tobacco residue.

Nicotine by itself is a colorless substance, but when mixed with oxygen it turns yellow. When tobacco is inhaled or placed in the mouth, nicotine and tar settle into the oral cavity. These substances are able to leach their way into microscopic openings in our enamel, resulting in a yellow/brown discoloration of the tooth surface. Luckily, tobacco stains are extrinsic, meaning that they are on the outer layer of the tooth surface and can be removed.

Although nicotine turns yellow when exposed to oxygen, it doesn’t stay on the tooth’s enamel for long. It’s water-soluble, which means washing your mouth with water or mouthwash will remove the stain easily.

Rosa, a veteran member of the E-cigarette Forum, warns vapers, however:

“…Vaping won’t stain your teeth like smoking will… HOWEVER: you must remember to stay hydrated because vaping will dry out your mouth worse than smoking and that can cause tooth decay and contribute to yellowing discoloration.”

Periodontal Disease Cycle Chart

Visit your dentist the moment you noticed signs of periodontal disease, such as swelling and bleeding of gums.

Gum Disease from Smoking and Vaping

Smoking promotes plaque and tartar buildup, which leads to bacterial growth in spaces between your gums. Because there’s lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, your gums have a hard time recovering from the bacterial invasion.

Smoking weakens your body’s infection fighters (your immune system). This makes it harder to fight off a gum infection. Once you have gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal.

Incidentally, it’s not cigarettes that cause periodontal disease. Those who smoke cigars and pipes, and people who chew tobacco are also vulnerable to gum disease.

Quitting or reducing your exposure to tobacco helps a lot:

One study found that smokers who reduced their smoking habit to less than half a pack a day had only three times the risk of developing gum disease compared with nonsmokers, which was significantly lower than the six times higher risk seen in those who smoked more than a pack and a half per day. Another study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that the mouth lesion leukoplakia completely resolved within 6 weeks of quitting in 97.5% of patients who used smokeless tobacco products.

However, if you didn’t suffer from any gum problem when you were smoking and suddenly you have blood all over your gums while brushing your teeth, then the vasoconstrictive effects of smoking were just masking your problem.

As soon as you stop smoking, your gums will bleed if there is gum disease, as the vasoconstrictive effects of smoking is no longer there. The smoking has been masking your problem, so when you stop smoking, what you see is your true gum condition. The blood vessels are no longer squeezed, and they can function normally and deliver oxygen and nutrient rich blood back to your poor gums.

Seeing your gums bleed as soon as you switched to vaping is actually a good thing. Now, you know you have a periodontal problem, and you can do something about it before it becomes worse.

Other tobacco-related conditions of the mouth include:

  • Brown to blackish staining of teeth, dentures and dental restorations.
  • Increased risk of leukoplakia (a lesion in the mouth which can develop into cancer).
  • Increased risk of tooth decay and tooth loss.
  • Bad breath (halitosis) and impaired taste.
  • Smoker’s melanosis (brown spots on the gums).
  • Black hairy tongue (bacteria, yeast and debris collecting on the tiny bumps on the tongue).
  • Smoker’s palate (the roof of the mouth becomes thickened and pale or white).
  • Dental implants are more likely to fail.
  • Some enzyme activity in saliva is reduced by chemicals in tobacco smoke.

Stopping smoking improves these conditions or helps their treatment.

Meanwhile, stopping the use of cigarettes and switching to vaping has reduced and completely ended some dental problems that beleaguered smokers for a long time. Don’t wait for your oral health issues to worsen and cost you more money in the future. Quit smoking and start using electronic cigarettes now.

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