The dangers of smoking and chewing tobacco are well known, documented, and widely accepted. Unfortunately, there's a buzz out there that vaping isn't "as bad" as the really bad guys--as if swallowing just a small amount of bleach isn't "as bad" as swigging a cup.
You're still drinking bleach.
And vaping has risks and dangers, just like chewing tobacco and smoking. Understanding risks can (sometimes) help us make better choices. Vaping can be especially dangerous for your mouth, in some ways even more than smoking. Vaping has gained popularity for a few reasons. It has been used as a tool to help people stop quitting. But non-smokers have picked it up as a new trend. This is an especially worrying pattern in young people. Vaping has been seen as a way to get around the smoke-free areas in public places, and the prevailing thought is that it is safer than smoking.
Vaping is a process of heating a liquid until it turns into an aerosol gas that the user inhales. That liquid is made up of propylene glycol, glycerin, flavorings, water, and nicotine. Some users substitute THC, a derivative of CBD, for the nicotine. The nicotine levels are lower than a traditional cigarette but the process of vaping has its own unique set of risks. These risks include:
Saliva is the natural washing machine of the mouth. It keeps things moving along and rinses out bacteria that can cause bad breath and other problems. Propylene glycol, the main ingredient of the liquid in e-cigarettes, breaks down into acid when it is inhaled as an aerosol. Plus, it is hygroscopic--that's a fancy word that means water likes it. As a result, the moisture in the mouth will latch on to the molecules of the vaping gas and run away with them as you exhale. That leaves the mouth high and dry and vulnerable to bacteria, cavities, and gum disease.
The next hidden enemy in vaping is the vegetable glycerin in the liquid that the e-cigarettes heat up. This glycerin is usually what they use to bind together the sweet flavorings that make vaping especially desirable to young people. It isn't as sweet as sucking on a lollipop, but that sweetness is just as dangerous to the mouth. The sweeteners and glycerin bind together and coat the teeth in a sweet film that can weaken the enamel over time. Because it is in aerosol form, it can fit into all those nooks and crannies where bacteria like to hide. And bacteria LOVE sugar.
Yep, they still have nicotine. Though they have less than traditional cigarettes, one e-cigarette cartridge is about the same as two to three packs of cigarettes. Nicotine mainly attacks the gums, cutting down the blood supply to that tender tissue and increasing the risk of gum disease. Sick gums lose their grip on teeth. That's why nicotine can lead to tooth loss.
Any time we leave our house or drive a car, we are taking on risks. The risk-free life of never leaving your house doesn't sound like much fun. However, we can choose our risks carefully and avoid some that are unnecessary. The lithium batteries that are used in e-cigarettes could be considered one of those risks. While it is very rare, the lithium batteries can overheat and explode, causing serious damage to the lips, teeth, and gums.
Vaping is a big trend in our world today, and young people are being targeted in especially dangerous ways. The damage vaping can do happens on a cellular level. That means it is a slow effect, but a lasting one. The aerosol is a sneaky villain, slowly coating the entire mouth with damaging persistence.
If these risks have gotten your attention and fueled a desire to quit vaping or help someone you love to quit, then what is the next step? It takes time to change habits, and it is good to have a plan. If you are trying to quit, look at creating a gradual plan that doesn't feel overwhelming, but make a plan or your good intentions will go nowhere.
Focus on the Positive
Whenever we are trying to drop a bad habit, it helps if there is a good one we are trying to pick up instead to take its place. Thinking about the good things we want is more motivating than the bad things we want to avoid.
Choosing to stop vaping, or never starting in the first place, is great news for your smile, and our smiles will be with us for a very long time! Investing in your teeth can help you stick to your resolve. Using our teeth whitening kit will bring beauty to your smile, and that can be a powerful motivator. You'll want to keep those teeth white, strong, and clean. Choose a healthy smile and an apple over a sweet puff. You won't regret it!