Dentist warns vaping could cause gum disease and tooth decay

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When the first electronic cigarettes were introduced in the UK in the mid-2000s it was hoped they would be a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco. While they do not contain some of the toxic ingredients of traditional cigarettes, which have been linked to various health problems over the years, recent studies have found they bring with them their own risks. One dentist spoke exclusively with about some of the damage vaping could cause to your mouth.

Doctor Rizwan Mahmood, dentist and co-founder of Rüh Dental, explained: “It is widely believed that vaping is not as harmful to the body as smoking cigarettes.

“Whilst this is largely true for wider health problems, the effect that vaping can have on teeth and overall oral health is significant.”

How vaping affects the mouth

“E-cigarettes and vapes release a multitude of chemicals that are harmful to the human body,” Dr Mahmood said.

“One such chemical is formaldehyde which, when heated with high-voltage batteries, can lead to irritation of the nose, mouth and throat.

“Aside from potentially leading to respiratory distress, ingestion of this chemical can cause burns and ulcers in your mouth.”

He continued: “There are lots of other chemicals which users inhale which can be damaging to your mouth.

“For example, propylene glycol, which is found in many vapes, can cause dryness of the mouth. This can lead to bad breath, mouth sores and even tooth decay.

“Nicotine, the main component of vapes and cigarettes, restricts blood flow to your gums thus causing an increase in the risk of gum disease.

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“When mixed with propylene glycol, formaldehyde and benzene (another chemical often found in vapes), this risk increases further still.”

One of the reasons that many people opt for vaping over smoking cigarettes is to avoid the discolouration of the teeth that is often associated with smoking tobacco.

However, Dr Mahmood said: “It’s a huge misconception that the tar in cigarettes is what is staining people’s teeth.

“Whilst it definitely contributes, the nicotine is also having a staining effect. If you’re worried about staining your teeth, then avoid cigarettes and vapes altogether.”

Bacterial changes are among the ailments that go hand-in-hand with vaping, he claimed.

Dr Mahmood said: “Some studies have suggested that the aerosol from vapes can cause an almost four-times increase in microbial adhesion to tooth enamel.

“Vapes with sweet, fruity flavourings fare even worse as they have similar chemical structures to sugary sweets and drinks and stick to your teeth for longer, causing tooth decay.”

How to quit

Dr Mahmood recommended trying other options that aren’t ingested or inhaled, such as nicotine patches.

He added: “If you are struggling to give up smoking or vaping then it’s always best to speak to your GP who will be able to offer support and signpost you to organisations that can offer healthy alternatives.

“If you have any concerns about how vaping or smoking is affecting your oral health specifically, speak to your dentist.”

You can access free NHS support for quitting smoking or vaping via

To look after your teeth the NHS recommends:

  • Brushing with toothpaste at least twice a day
  • Flossing
  • Cutting back on sugar
  • Attending regular dental check-ups.

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