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Vaping could ruin your smile, new study warns

The researchers recommend that people who vape should be given much more rigorous care to prevent cavities.

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young woman smoking electronic cigarette
(Desizned via Shutterstock)

By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Vaping could ruin your smile as people who vape are more at risk of developing dental cavities, warns a new study.

After inhaling, the sticky and sugary content of vaping liquid sticks to the teeth causing all the damage.

The liquid also changes the microbiome of the mouth, making it more hospitable to decay-causing bacteria.

And vaping appears to encourage decay in areas where it usually doesn’t occur, such as the bottom edges of front teeth.

This year in the UK, 8.6 percent of young people aged between 11 and 18 said they vaped either occasionally or regularly. This is a jump from four per cent in 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 9.1 million American adults and two million teenagers use tobacco-based vaping products, meaning there are a lot of vulnerable teeth across the country.

The CDC also reported that 7.6 percent of 11 to 18-year-olds used e-cigarettes in 2021.

Over the last few years, public awareness has increased about the dangers of vaping to systemic health - particularly after the use of vaping devices was tied to lung disease.

Dr. Karina Irusa, assistant professor of comprehensive care at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and lead author on the study, said: “Some dental research has shown ties between e-cigarette use and increased markers for gum disease, and, separately, damage to the tooth’s enamel, its outer shell.

"But relatively little emphasis has been placed on the intersection between e-cigarette use and oral health, even by dentists.”

The research team analyzed the data from more than 13,000 patients over the age of 16 who were treated at Tufts dental clinics from 2019-2022.

The team found that while the vast majority of patients did not use vapes, there was a significant difference in the risk of cavities between those who used them and the control group.

The data revealed that 79 percent of vaping patients had a high risk of suffering from cavities, while around only 60 per cent of the control group had a similar level of risk.

The vaping patients were not asked whether they used devices that contained nicotine or THC, although nicotine is more common.

The researchers recommend that people who vape should be given much more rigorous care to prevent cavities.

This could include prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste and fluoride rinse, in-office fluoride applications, and check-ups more often than twice a year.

Irusa believes these new findings may be just a hint of the damage vaping causes to the mouth.

“The extent of the effects on dental health, specifically on dental decay, are still relatively unknown. At this point, I’m just trying to raise awareness," she said.

“It’s important to understand this is preliminary data. This is not 100 per cent conclusive, but people do need to be aware of what we’re seeing.”

Irusa and her team now want to take a closer look at how vaping affects the microbiology of saliva to further their research.

“It takes a lot of investment of time and money to manage dental caries (the dental term for cavities), depending on how bad it gets," she said.

“Once you’ve started the habit, even if you get fillings, as long as you continue, you’re still at risk of secondary caries. It takes an aesthetic toll.

“It’s a vicious cycle that will not stop.”

A previous study, published in the journal PLOS one, compared e-cigarettes to gummy sweets and acidic drinks.

It reported: “Certain e-liquid ingredients interact with hard tissues of the oral cavity in such a way that resembles high-sucrose candies and acidic drinks that adversely affect teeth.”

The current study was published in The Journal of the American Dental Association.

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