Can a Dentist Tell if You vape?

/ 3 min read
Can a Dentist Tell if You vape?

There is a lot of debate over the way vaping impacts our oral health. There is still a general lack of concrete data to draw accurate conclusions about many aspects of vaping’s impact on our health in general.

While it is generally understood that vaping is around 95% less harmful than smoking, it is important to remember that this does not mean it is risk-free. This includes potential impacts on your oral health.

We have taken a closer look at many of these oral health issues in our blogs: Can Vaping Cause Gum Disease? And Does Vaping Stain Teeth? However here we will explore whether or not your dentist can tell if you’ve been vaping.

Can the Dentist Tell if You Smoke or Vape?

According to the NHS Smoking leaves many tell-tale signs on your teeth that are immediately obvious to a dentist – staining, soft enamel, receding gums – there are plenty of examples.

While vaping carries a reduced risk compared to smoking, it is not guilt-free, and while less obvious than smoking, there are some signs that your dentist may pick up on, prompting them to ask about whether you smoke or vape.

close up of a person vaping

Vaping and Oral Health

While it should be remembered that vaping is less impactful than cigarette smoking, there are some credible studies which suggest vaping can have a negative impact on your oral health. Long-term research is still ongoing, making it challenging to draw concrete conclusions, however it has been suggested that vaping can cause inflammation and stress in the gum tissue, leading to periodontitis.

It has also been suggested that vaping causes dry mouth, which can also increase the risk of cavities and gum disease. You can read about all of these issues in more detail in the blogs mentioned at the beginning of this article.

How Could a Dentist Spot this?

While there are no specific tests a dentist can carry out to find out if you are vaping, some of the effects of the issues mentioned above leave signs that may prompt them to ask about your smoking/vaping status, including:

Tooth and Tongue Staining

Due to the nicotine content and some flavouring ingredients, e-cigarette vapour has been observed to cause very mild tooth staining as the nicotine mixes with saliva, building over time. The nicotine also acts as a vasoconstrictor, which means it restricts your blood flow. This impacts the gums and causes discolouration, and shrinkage – all of which will be spotted by a good dentist.

Dry Mouth

While it may sound benign, reduced saliva production in the mouth can have a few knock-on effects. These include cavities and even increased risk of gum disease. If your dentist notices a lack of saliva or a tackiness on the surface of your teeth, they are likely to assume you are a smoker or vaper.

Bad Breath

While more commonly associated to smokers, vapers can also run afoul of bad breath. While in this instance the dentist may not immediately blame vaping, if the bad breath is the result of oral health issues it may become more obvious as they investigate those issues.

What can you do to avoid oral health issues as a vaper?

Thankfully there are some best practice pointers to keep in mind as a vaper to help you maintain better oral health and avoid the dentist’s wrath:

  • Stay hydrated – drinking plenty of water will help combat dry mouth.
  • Try sugar-free gum – this can increase saliva production preventing dry mouth.
  • Use mouthwash and regularly brush – a little obvious perhaps, but vital to maintaining a healthy mouth.
  • Avoid sugary food and drink – as tasty as they are, we all know we should only enjoy treats in moderation!
  • Be a regular at the dentist – don’t miss your check-ups, keeping ahead of any issues can help prevent them from evolving into something worse.

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