Smokeless Tobacco and Vaping Are Still Impacting Your Oral Health

Smokeless tobacco products and vaping remain popular alternatives to traditional smoking. While these alternatives may seem less harmful to oral health compared to smoking cigarettes, they still pose significant risks.

E-cigarettes and chewing tobacco can have detrimental effects on your oral health. Here, we examine the impact of smokeless tobacco products, like chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes, or vaping, on your oral health.

Soft Tissue Irritation

Chewing tobacco contains harmful substances that can damage your oral tissues. The act of chewing or holding smokeless tobacco against the gums and inner cheek for prolonged periods exposes the soft tissues to irritating chemicals. This can result in inflammation, leukoplakia (white patches inside the mouth), and even the development of oral lesions. Over time, these conditions can progress and become more severe, increasing the risk of oral cancer.

E-cigarettes also contain harmful chemicals, such as nicotine, propylene glycol, and various known human carcinogens, which can negatively impact oral tissues, causing irritation and even oral lesions [1].

Higher Risk of Gum Disease

Nicotine, the addictive substance found in both regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco, restricts blood flow to the gums, affecting their ability to heal and increasing the risk of gum disease [2].

Additionally, inhaling flavored aerosols and toxic chemicals can cause irritation and inflammation of the oral tissues, which may exacerbate the inflammation that happens with gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Dry Mouth and Tooth Decay

Smokeless tobacco and vaping can cause dry mouth, a condition where your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva to protect teeth, neutralize acids, and balance oral bacteria. Without adequate saliva, tooth enamel is more at risk of being damaged, resulting in a higher risk of tooth decay.

In addition, e-cigarettes often contain flavorings that increase plaque formation in the mouth [3]. When broken down in the oral cavity, these chemicals cause plaque to form, which sticks to teeth and causes damage to tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay.

How to Protect Your Smile If You Use Smokeless Tobacco or E-Cigarettes

If you use chewing tobacco or vape, it’s essential to protect your smile. Getting bi-annual checkups with your dentist can help ensure your teeth are healthy and prevent damage caused by these products.

Your dentist will also conduct an annual oral cancer screening to identify signs of oral cancer early, as both chewing tobacco and vaping have been associated with a higher risk of oral cancer [4], [5].

As always, brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and maintaining a healthy diet can help protect your teeth. You can also consider chewing sugarless gum after chewing tobacco or vaping, which may help reduce your risk of cavities and soft tissue irritation.

Consider Quitting Smokeless Tobacco and Vaping

While smokeless tobacco products and vaping may seem like safer alternatives to traditional smoking, they still pose significant risks to your oral health. These products contain harmful chemicals that can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, oral lesions, and even oral cancer. Consider quitting smokeless tobacco and vaping to protect both your oral health and bodily health—ask your dentist for more resources to start your journey to quitting!

Sources:
1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41432-023-00941-0
2. https://dental.ufl.edu/files/2012/06/TobaccoUseAndPeriodontialDisease.pdf
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10972225/
4. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/risk-prevention/tobacco/health-risks-oftobacco/smokeless-tobacco.html
5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38036651/

Summary
Smokeless Tobacco and Vaping Are Still Impacting Your Oral Health
Article Name
Smokeless Tobacco and Vaping Are Still Impacting Your Oral Health
Description
E-cigarettes and chewing tobacco can have detrimental effects on your oral health. Here, we examine the impact of smokeless tobacco products, like chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes, or vaping, on your oral health.
Author
Leesburg Premier Dental
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Dr. Ahmed Uthman
Dr. Uthman also began practicing general dentistry in 1997, and went on to gain advanced training in orthodontics in 2006. He is dedicated to his patients, and strives to provide treatments that address the underlying issues that cause most cosmetic conditions. He has a great amount of compassion for his patients, and believes that having a long lasting doctor/patient relationship helps to increase the quality and effectiveness of care. Due to his commitment to a high standard of care and additional training, Dr. Uthman is also recognized as an Invisalign Preferred Provider. Dr. Uthman spends much of his free time with his wife and daughters. He enjoys watching soccer matches, playing tennis, and has recently taken up golf as well. Dr. Uthman is trilingual, speaking Kurdish, Arabic, and English.