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The Role of Vaping in Gum Disease

In recent years, vaping has been on the rise, especially among the youth. Although it’s a safer alternative to conventional smoking, it isn’t harmless. We all know that vaping is bad for our health in countless ways. But did you know that vaping can harm your gums, too? Continue reading to learn how it may affect your periodontal health. 

A distinct microbiome

According to the latest research by the NYU College of Dentistry, e-cigarette users possess a unique microbiome different from that of smokers and nonsmokers. Some bacteria notoriously known to be associated with gum disease are found to be prevalent in the mouths of vapers. These include the Fusobacterium, Bacteroidales, and Porphyromonas.

How is the oral microbiome of importance to us?

The oral cavity is a gateway to the body and is home to many microbial species that inhabit our respiratory and digestive tracts. Studies have shown that changes in the community of bacteria and other microorganisms inside our oral cavity contribute to several systemic health issues, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, as well as a number of oral health problems like halitosis, caries, and periodontal disease. 

 

Vaping modulates the oral microbiome, alters the host immune response, and highly influences the colonization of complex microbial biofilms, thus increasing the chances of oral infection.

 

The dysbiotic oral microbial ecology affects the host immune response by altering the levels of some cytokines (proteins that regulate the host immune response). Certain cytokines are associated with an imbalance in oral bacteria and can increase the risk for gum disease. One of these, TNF alpha, was found to be significantly elevated among vapers. There are also certain cytokines (for example, IL-4) that are normally reduced in individuals with gum disease and begin to increase during healing after treatment. Oddly enough, the levels of  IL-4 and IL-1β were found to be decreased in e-cigarette smokers. This suggests that some bacteria residing in the oral environment of vapers actively suppress the body’s immune responses. With a comprised immune response, vapers are more prone to gingival inflammation and infection. 

 

The Takeaway

Need another reason to ditch the nicotine from your vape juice? Your oral health may be at risk.

Although dentists still argue whether or not vaping is more harmful for your gums than smoking, one thing is for sure: there is a strong link between vaping and periodontal disease. The prime culprit is nicotine, of course, but the other components of e-liquids, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, and flavorings, when combined together can wreak havoc for your periodontal health. Albeit it’s a safer alternative to smoking, it doesn’t come without risks of its own. Periodontal disease can can turn into a serious oral health concern if it goes untreated. Thankfully, it can be treated if caught in its early stages by cutting out bad habits, following a strict oral hygiene routine, and seeing your dentist regularly. Quitting vaping can seem impossible but with the right tools, self-control, and support, it’s totally doable. And trust me, the benefits are totally worth it!