E-cigarettes are dramatically increasing in popularity. But, despite the fact that millions of people around the country are vaping, we don’t yet know the health consequences of the habit.
However, a new study suggests that e-cigarettes might be much healthier than smoking, at least for the mouth. This study shows that when smokers substitute e-cigarettes for their tobacco cigarettes, their oral health improves significantly.
From Smoking to Vaping
Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of oral health problems. Smokers are much more likely to experience gum disease, and they’re up to three times as likely to lose teeth as nonsmokers. And that isn’t the end of problems, because smoking significantly increases the risk of dental implant failure.
It’s been suggested that vaping could be a healthier habit, so this study is an important one. It looked at a population of 350 smokers who were asked to give up cigarettes for vaping for a period of 120 days. Oral health was assessed for test subjects on day 0, day 60, and day 120. However, only 110 subjects actually completed the full 120 days using e-cigarettes.
Improved Gum Health
Smokers in this study initially showed common signs of gum disease. One of the most obvious markers of gum disease is bleeding gums. The study population was divided into two groups. At the start of the study, 61% of the first group had bleeding gums, and 65% of the second group had bleeding gums. But switching from smoking to vaping dramatically reduced the rate of bleeding gums. After 120 days, the incidence of bleeding gums had dropped to just 8% in the first group and 2% in the second group.
The other measures of oral health, papillary bleeding and plaque index, also improved dramatically. The proportion of people with 0 on the plaque index increased from 0% at the start of the study, to 87% after 120 days of vaping. One of the groups became 100% free of papillary bleeding after vaping.
Vaping Is Not without Risk
Although the results of this study show the promising oral health benefits of switching from smoking to vaping, this is not an endorsement of the safety of vaping. Let us reiterate that smoking is terrible for your oral health. The fact that vaping is not as bad doesn’t mean that it’s actually safe. In fact, there is reason to believe that vaping can itself be bad for your gums.
And there is the risk that vaping explosions can cause serious oral trauma. Recent research indicates that these may be much more frequent than we thought in the past. One hospital reported 15 e-cigarette explosion injuries in just nine months, and as the habit grows in popularity, these injuries will likely increase as well.
Ideally, people should never start smoking. But if you are a smoker, it’s best to quit smoking now. This provides immediate improvement in oral health. But if you can’t quit smoking without help, vaping is a reasonable intermediate step.