The Truth About Vaping

Vaping could result in more regular trips to the dentist, according to new research from Tufts University.

Research from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine concluded that people who use vaping products have a greater chance of having cavities. Furthermore, reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that 9.1 million American adults and 2 million teenagers consume tobacco-based vaping products. That means a lot of potential tooth damage.

Karina Irusa, Tufts assistant professor of comprehensive care and lead author on a paper about the link between vaping and caries (dental cavities) published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, said the results serve as a warning: Vaping can be very harmful to teeth.

In the last few years, people have become more aware of the risks that vaping poses to overall health, especially after devices were associated with lung diseases.

According to Irusa, the new Tufts study may only be a glimpse into the harm that vaping can cause to our mouths.

“We don’t yet know all of the implications of using vapes on our dental health, including tooth decay,” she said. “So I’m making an effort in raising awareness among both dentists and patients.”

Irusa said this study is the first that has looked into the link between e-cigarettes and an increased chance of developing cavities. The researchers analyzed data from more than 13,000 patients aged 16 and over who were treated at Tufts dental clinics between 2019 and 2021.

Nearly 80 percent of the vaping patients were classified as having a high risk for tooth decay, compared to 60 percent in the control group.

Irusa cautioned that the data were only preliminary and further studies were necessary to draw any definitive conclusions. Additionally, Irusa expressed a desire to gain greater insight into how vaping impacts the microbiology of saliva.

According to a 2018 study published in PLOS One, the sugary content and viscosity of vaping liquid are similar to that of gummy candy and acidic drinks; when aerosolized, these materials stick to teeth.

The Tufts researchers suggest that dentists ask patients, including adolescents, about e-cigarette use as part of their medical history. This information could be important since 7.6 percent of middle and high school students in 2021 reported using e-cigarettes, according to the FDA/CDC.

Furthermore, the researchers proposed that e-cigarette users should be given a more professional and effective treatment plan for tooth decay, which might include high-dosage fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, in-office fluoride treatments, and visits to the dentist more frequently than twice yearly.

Vaping and Overall Health

The Tufts study is just one of many that have linked vaping to a variety of health issues. In addition to the risk for dental caries, vaping has been linked to an increased risk for stroke and heart attack, as well as respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma.

The CDC recommends that people avoid using e-cigarettes altogether, especially people who are pregnant or under the age of 18.

Tobacco Use and Oral Health

The Tufts study also highlights the importance of reducing tobacco use, which is known to be a major risk factor for oral health problems. According to the CDC, smoking and chewing tobacco can cause gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancer.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that people quit using all forms of tobacco as soon as possible in order to reduce their risk for dental decay and other oral health problems.

In conclusion, the Tufts study highlights the potential risks of vaping for dental caries and other oral health issues.

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