Looking through the most recent studies and guidance by dental experts about the effects of vaping on oral health, as always we found arguments in favour and against. Here we aim to summarize and decipher these latest claims and findings.
Speaking recently for National Smile Month, Dr Affan Saghir, owner of Space Dental, a luxury cosmetic dental clinic in the UK, said that anyone wishing to maintain a healthy smile should steer clear of tobacco and vaping products. And while the effect of vaping is still debatable for many, the negative impact of combustible tobacco is a widely accepted fact.
In fact experts in the field are all in agreement that smokers’ teeth are less white than those of non-smokers. A study by award winning researcher Riccardo Polosa, Professor of Medicine and Founder of CoEHAR at the University of Catania, and Giovanni Zucchelli, professor of Periodontology University of Bologna, analysed this further.
Titled, “Repeatability of dental shade by digital spectrophotometry in current, former, and never smokers,” the study examined and compared the differences in the color of teeth withing a group of smokers and a group of non-smokers. The Italian researchers found that indeed the teeth of smokers were significantly less white than those of non-smokers.
On contacting Dr. Polosa to discuss the topic, he explained that in his opinion this is a good angle to tackle smoking cessation from, as aesthetics may be more of a current priority for young people. “The reason why I consider this important is because we are aware of an aesthetic narrative for younger smokers… We all agree that an
aesthetic-based narrative would convincingly resonate among young
smokers. The notion of improvement in dental whiteness could drive
thousands of young smokers away from combustible tobacco!”
He summarized three crucial points that emerged from the study:
“1. The study findings demonstrate that current smokers’ teeth are
significantly less white than nonsmokers’ teeth. Furthermore, after
quitting smoking, teeth whiteness improves.
2. Aesthetic considerations may become a much more compelling
motivation to quit smoking, especially for young smokers who perceive
bad breath and teeth appearance (owing to tooth discolouration and
“tar”/tobacco stains) as a major issue.
3. The use of tar-free nicotine delivery technology (such as
electronic cigarettes or heated tobacco products) is likely to improve
dental appearance, ongoing international research coordinated by
CoEHAR will soon provide definitive results.”
Another Italian observational study carried out at the Unit of Periodontology and Oral Hygiene of Calabrodental Clinic in Crotone, had analyzed the oral health of 110 smokers who had just switched to vaping. At the start of the study, 61% in group 1 and 65% in group 2, experienced gum bleeding, when re-examined at the end of the study, 92% and 98% respectively, experienced no bleeding.
Studies suggesting that vapes have a negative impact on dental health
In contrast, earlier this year CareQuest Institute for Oral Health®, a non-profit focused on contributing to a better national oral health system, released a report suggesting several oral health risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes.
Among these health risks, says the report, are gum disease, dental decay, bone loss, and hairy tongue. The paper said that medical professionals need to educate their patients about these risks, however it did not compare the relative benefits for users when they switch from smoking cigarettes.
Another relatively recent study indicated that the sugar content of e-liquids may promote teeth cavities. Titled, “A comparison of the caries risk between patients who use vapes or electronic cigarettes and those who do not,” the study was published online in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Analysing the association between vaping and possible caries risk level, the research team found that vapers had a higher risk of developing them.