In a study from Tufts University, scientists found people who vape may be more likely to have a higher risk of cavities.
The findings on the association between vaping and the risk of caries—the dental term for cavities—serve as an alert that this once seemingly harmless habit may be very detrimental.
Over the last few years, public awareness has increased about the dangers of vaping to systemic health—particularly after the use of vaping devices was tied to lung disease.
Some dental research has shown ties between e-cigarette use and increased markers for gum disease, and, separately, damage to the tooth’s enamel, its outer shell.
In the study, the team examined the association of vaping and e-cigarettes with the increased risk of getting cavities.
They analyzed data from more than 13,000 patients older than 16 who were treated at Tufts dental clinics from 2019-2022.
While the vast majority of the patients said they did not use vapes, there was a big difference in dental caries risk levels between the e-cigarette/vaping group and the control group.
Some 79% of the vaping patients were categorized as having high-caries risk, compared to just about 60% of the control group.
The vaping patients were not asked whether they used devices that contained nicotine or THC, although nicotine is more common.
One reason why e-cigarette use could contribute to a high risk of cavities is the sugary content and viscosity of vaping liquid, which, when aerosolized and then inhaled through the mouth, sticks to the teeth.
Vaping aerosols has been shown to change the oral microbiome making it more hospitable to decay-causing bacteria.
It’s also been observed that vaping seems to encourage decay in areas where it usually doesn’t occur—such as the bottom edges of front teeth.
The team recommends that dentists should routinely ask about e-cigarette use as part of a patient’s medical history.
People who use e-cigarettes should be considered for a more rigorous caries management method.
For more information about gum health, please see recent studies about mouthwash that may increase your tooth damage, and results showing this common gum disease may double your risk of high blood pressure.
The study was conducted by Karina Irusa et al and published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
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