Can Vaping Cause Gum Disease?

/ 6 min read

Can Vaping Cause Gum Disease?

The health risks associated with vaping are still the subject of debate. The main reason for the lack of clarity in many areas is the general lack of long-term data which would allow experts to draw more accurate conclusions.

Despite being thin on the ground however, there are long-term studies underway with data now beginning to emerge as we accelerate into 2023, with some studies having been underway since vaping’s early inception to the western world from China over a decade ago.

Some of the most frequently asked questions are around vaping’s impact on our oral health. We all know that smoking causes a variety of oral issues from staining to cancer – but how does vaping compare?

Not as Harmful as Smoking

The good news for vapers or those wanting to make the switch, is that across-the-board experts are largely in agreement that vaping is far less harmful than smoking.

From public health England’s landmark report that stated vaping is 95% less harmful than cigarettes in 2015, all the up to the present day, the evidence keeps mounting in favour of vaping not only as a smoking cessation tool, but also as a far less harmful alternative.

As a method for getting trace amounts of nicotine into your system, smoking is truly awful - bringing along with it a wealth of poisonous or carcinogenic chemicals, plus all that tar and the heat of the smoke. If you are going to do one or the other, then it is considered better to vape. But vaping should not be regarded as risk-free, especially when it comes to gum health.

While it does not carry all those extra nasties into your system, vaping still delivers nicotine, and nicotine is actually one of the main contributors to gum disease and more. This means people should be cautious and take extra care of their oral health if they choose to consume nicotine in any form, including vaping.

Nicotine causes vasoconstriction, meaning that your gum has a poorer blood supply. This makes your gums more susceptible to infection and can cause gum recession.

Vaping & Gum Disease

A recent study published by mBio and reported on by the Daily Mail has highlighted vaping’s potential to encourage gum disease. The study focused on a sample of 84 dental examinations split between vapers, smokers, and those who abstain from either.

The experts leading the trial stressed that the oral health of vapers was far better than that of smokers overall, although of course non-smokers/non-vapers had the healthiest. With that said, they did note that vapers had more gum ligament and tissue separating from their teeth – even more so than smokers in the trial despite them being far worse in other areas of focus.

A key indicator of gum disease is 'clinical attachment loss' – gum ligament and tissue separating from a tooth's surface as we mentioned above, leading the gum to recede and form pockets. These pockets are breeding grounds for bacteria and can lead to more severe gum disease.     

Periodontitis chart

Oral Bacteria & Periodontitis

Gum disease or periodontitis – a very common condition where the gums become swollen, sore or infected – is generally caused by poor oral hygiene. The human mouth is full of bacteria that combine with saliva to form a sticky film known as plaque, which builds up on our teeth.

When we consume food and drink high in carbohydrates, bacteria in plaque turn carbohydrates into the energy they need, producing acid at the same time. Over time, acid in plaque begins to break down a tooth's surface and causes tooth decay. Other bacteria in plaque can also irritate gums, making them inflamed and sore.

The results of the trial suggest that, while not as extreme as a smokers, the natural balance of bacteria in our mouths is changed through vaping.

Gum disease was assessed through two dental exams six months apart, during which time plaque samples were taken to analyse the bacteria present.

All participants had some gum disease at the start of the study, although cigarette smokers had the most severe gum disease, followed by e-cigarette users. After six months, the researchers observed that gum disease had worsened in some participants in each group, including several e-cigarette users.

Vapers in the study were found to maintain higher levels of Fusobacterium and Bacteroidales - bacteria that are been associated with gum disease. Speaking of the findings, the authors of the study said:

“Our data suggest that e-cig use promotes a unique periodontal microbiome, existing as a stable heterogeneous state between those of conventional smokers and non-smokers and presenting unique oral health challenges”

“Vaping appears to be driving unique patterns in bacteria and influencing the growth of some bacteria in a manner akin to cigarette smoking, but with its own profile and risks to oral health”

In short, the evidence suggests that vaping, along with any other form of nicotine consumption can increase the risk of developing gum disease, albeit not as much as smoking cigarettes.

If you are a vaper, take good care of your oral health to help mitigate the risks!

Can Vaping Cause Cavities?

Cavities are generally caused by plaque acid eating away at your tooth’s surface. As we mentioned earlier, plaque bacteria produce this acid as they consume carbohydrates for energy. If you vape a sugary flavour, it could potentially worsen this problem and cause more cavities.

Thankfully, much like diabetes, free sugars are typically the biggest contributors to this, and EDGE E-Liquids do not use free sugars in their recipe, so you can enjoy our products without as much concern – this does not however excuse the drying effects of vapour, which can also encourage bacteria over time.

Teeth and cigarettes

Can Vaping Stain Your Teeth?

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that vaping stains your teeth. Unlike tobacco smoke, there is no tar present in e-cig vapour, which means the biggest staining chemical isn’t there to ruin your smile.

Can Vaping Cause Mouth Cancer?

Much like tooth staining, there is almost no evidence strong enough for experts to draw a yes or no conclusion to this question. However the latest report from the UK government – regarded as the best evidence reports on vaping worldwide – suggests that the risks of cancer from vaping in general are much lower than in those who smoke.

Tooth Grinding & Bad Breath

While not the most obvious, nicotine is a stimulant, and when we consume it can promote teeth grinding. This will slowly wear away enamel, much like the acid from plaque bacteria.

Drying out your mouth with vapour or smoke can also lead to bad breath if you don’t keep up with your brushing routine!

Keep it Clean!

Overall, there is certainly evidence to suggest that vapers must take extra care of their oral hygiene vs non-smokers or non-vapers.

If you are a vaper or are thinking of giving it a go, make sure you are prepared to upkeep a rigorous oral hygiene routine if anything we have discussed above causes you concern.