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Vaping vs. Smoking How It Impacts Your Teeth and Gums

Introduction to the Impact of Vaping and Smoking on Oral Health

Hi, I’m Dr. Brett Langston. I’m a prosthodontist and owner of Dental Implant and Aesthetic Specialist here in Brookhaven, Georgia, and I’m here to help you watch your mouth.
So today, we’re going to talk about vaping, smoking, and tobacco use. And while there’s been a lot of talk and everybody is pretty well aware of the negative impact it has on your body overall and your lungs, a lot of times we overlook the damage that it does on your mouth, your oral cavity, and healing in general. I just want to address that today with a couple of tidbits to talk about. Just some food for thought on the process.

The Misconception of Vaping as a Safer Alternative

So when vaping came out, I think a lot of people thought, well, it’s less harmful than smoking. It’s cool. I can make a big puff of smoke. There are lots of neat things I can do, but it turns out it’s actually just as bad, if not worse, for your body and your mouth than smoking.

The Real Effects of Vaping and Smoking on Your Mouth

The amount of chemicals that are in the vape, carpule, or pod is just as bad as smoking and cigarettes, in addition to the carcinogenic chemicals and the damage you’re doing to your lungs. The big impact it has on your mouth is the heat, the damage to the tissues from that, and other chemicals that go to your lungs. They get there by going through your mouth. So they’re absorbed into your oral tissue, they’re absorbed into your mouth. They can lead to periodontal disease, which is bone loss. So, a lot of times, chronic smoking vape use will actually cause changes in the mouth that will cause you to lose teeth in addition to discoloration, in addition to bad breath, and tasting like you licked an ashtray. Smoking can also cause tissue damage, it causes your bone loss, and cause you to loss of teeth.

The Domino Effect of Tooth Loss Due to Smoking and Vaping

And over time, as you lose teeth, it can kind of become a domino effect that causes further failure in your mouth. It can cause further bone loss and further tooth loss. In addition to that, healing is compromised when you’re a smoker or a vaper. So if we’re trying to restore your mouth, whether it’s after surgery or implants, it’s not going to heal as well, and it’s going to lead to further down the road tooth failure.

Healing Complications from Smoking and Vaping

So, I understand the stresses of life can lead to bad habits. Smoking vaping. I actually think the most important thing is to be educated and informed. So I have patients, unfortunately, who were smokers and switched to vaping because they thought it was going to be better for them. I have come to find out it has the same impact on your oral health, if not worse. And so vaping, we’ve had patients where if we want to do implants, we ask them to stop smoking, and in our first learning about vaping, we never made it clear that they need to stop vaping as well.
So, if you’re in the category of needing surgery in your mouth, whether it’s implants or extractions, you need to be aware that smoking and vaping fall in that same category of impacting healing. And they’re going to definitely negatively impact the outcome of the result because they cause tissue recession, they cause bone loss, they cause other kinds of damage.

One of the things they consider is smokeless tobacco. Some people also think that switching from cigarettes or cigars to smokeless tobacco is a healthy option. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s just you’re switching one for the other. When I was in the Army, I used to have a lot of patients, a lot of young soldiers that would have a chew in their mouth and they would come to see us, and you do an oral exam, you pull their lip out, and their tissue is just gnarled up.

I used to say that it looks like they have a scrotum in their mouth, which is as gross as it sounds. But it’s true because that stuff causes tissue change, and prolonged use of that will lead to oral cancer. And oral cancer progresses very quickly. So it kind of circles back to having a good relationship with your oral healthcare team, oral cancer screenings, helping you figure out ways to mitigate and change and get away from tobacco- Nicotine use is something that we deal with on a day-to-day basis. And so again, we don’t ever shame somebody. I know the world is a stressful place, but we’ve got ways that we can work with you to make you healthier.

Seek Help Regardless of Tobacco Use

So, if you’re a smoker, a vaper, or a tobacco user, don’t be afraid to come see us. We’re not here to berate you, we’re not here to beat you over the head with anything, but we can give you some strategies, and we can’t give you ways to mitigate the damage from that habit. Also, we can do a good job of screening, checking, making sure there isn’t any permanent damage done, and if there is, coming up with solutions to help you out. So please come see us. I’m Brett Langston. I’m a prosthodontist and owner of Dental Implant and Aesthetic Specialist in Brookhaven, Georgia. I’m here to help you watch your mouth.