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Tobacco smoking is harmful. It also increases the risk of various diseases including stroke and heart disease. This is according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) which also reported that smoking tobacco is the leading but preventable cause of death in the US. In addition to that, it is also the leading cause of lung cancer and related deaths.
Introducing the E-cigarette as an Alternative
Vaping using electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, was meant to provide an alternative method of smoking that does not involve the use of tobacco. Ever since vaping became a trend, many questions are being asked about how safe this practice is. Individuals are concerned about what happens to your gums and teeth when you vape. Some people wearing orthodontic appliances have asked: “Is it okay to vape while you’re wearing braces?”
These are some important questions since studies show that vaping can have negative effects on your oral and general health. As you keep reading, you’ll discover what happens to your gums and teeth and when to see your orthodontist to correct orthodontic problems that may take place.
What is Vaping?
Vaping involves inhaling and exhaling vapors from an e-cigarette. The e-cigarette is a device that looks like a cigarette. It has a cartridge that contains liquid. Puffing on the mouthpiece of the device heats the liquid to produce vapor instead of smoke. Vaping is intended to substitute for smoking traditional cigarettes and is supposed to help smokers quit tobacco smoking. But they’re essentially still smoking a cigarette. This is why vaping is considered bad for teeth, gums, and overall health the same way tobacco smoking is.
What’s Inside Your E-Cigarette?
When you vape, you’re inhaling vapor containing a combination of aerosol, nicotine, and potentially harmful chemicals. Nicotine is a toxic and addictive substance found in cigarettes. According to John Hopkins Medicine, e-cigarettes are just as addictive and harmful as traditional cigarettes. Vaping may lead to the use of tobacco cigarettes in those who never smoked tobacco before or relapse in those trying to quit.
What Happens to Your Gums and Teeth When You Vape?
Vaping on a regular basis can lead to unhealthy teeth and gums. Some common problems that may result are:
- Plaque and tartar buildup
- Gum disease
- Receding gum
- Tooth decay
- Loose tooth or tooth loss
- Bite problems (malocclusions)
Vaping May Lead To Receding Gum
The nicotine contained in your e-cigarette is known to narrow the blood vessels thereby reducing the amount of oxygen to the gum and teeth. This can eventually lead to receding gum and loose tooth. Receding gum is a dental condition where the gum pulls back and exposes the periodontal pockets beneath the gumline. Bacteria from plaque and tartar buildup can infect the pockets causing gum inflammation, gum disease, dental abscess, or periodontitis. Receding gum is also a symptom of periodontal disease.
Is It Okay to Vape While You’re Wearing Braces?
Braces are types of orthodontic appliances that are installed on the teeth to help straighten them and correct bite problems (malocclusions). They’re typically worn for several months depending on if you got traditional metal braces or Invisalign. Once your braces are fitted, your orthodontist will warn you about what foods and habits to avoid, such as smoking or vaping, that may be harmful to oral health. This is because, like tobacco smoking, vaping is also not okay when you’re wearing braces. It can cause gum recession, loose tooth, and may make bite problems worse. You will need to be treated and this could increase the length of time you wear the braces.
Vaping with Braces Increases the Risk of Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
Having braces on your teeth while smoking e-cigarettes do not protect your teeth and gum from cavities, bacterial infection, receding gum, or gum disease. This is the case especially if you’re wearing traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, or lingual braces. These types of dental appliances consist of wires and brackets that make it easy for food to get trapped between the teeth. Bacteria-filled plaque and tartar will then begin to attack the teeth and gum causing gum infection or tooth decay.
Although they are effective for straightening teeth just like Invisalign, it takes more effort to maintain the teeth and gum while wearing wire-and-bracket braces. With the help of the nicotine, tar, and other toxic chemicals released onto the teeth and gum while vaping, these oral structures deteriorate faster with braces on. Bite problems, such as underbite, overbite, or crowded teeth may also develop from long-term use of vapor cigarettes.
What to Do if Vaping Affects Your Gum and Teeth
If you wear braces and have been vaping as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, you should make an appointment for a checkup with your orthodontist. He or she will examine your teeth and gums thoroughly to look for problems like plaque and tartar buildup, cavities, gum disease, and signs of teeth misalignment.
If you do not wear braces, habitual vaping may also cause your teeth to shift away or closer to each other. This happens due to persistent pressure from the vaping device on the teeth. Your orthodontist may recommend getting braces to straighten the teeth. Invisalign are preferred by women because they can be worn without anyone noticing, making it aesthetically pleasing. Invisalign clear aligners are also removable and allow you to better care for your teeth and gum. However, metal or ceramic braces may be necessary for severe bite problems or overcrowding.
How Braces Work to Correct Bite Problems and Overcrowding
Braces and clear aligners can be installed to fix various types of bite problems and overcrowding. Wire and bracket braces and Invisalign are positioned in a way that allow these appliances to put pressure on the teeth or jaw. The force from the pressure causes the teeth to gradually shift closer together, further apart, inward, or outward as desired.
Make an appointment with our orthodontist today!
Now that you know what is vaping and how it can affect your teeth and gum while wearing braces, you may need to visit our experienced orthodontist for a checkup. Your teeth and gum will be thoroughly examined to identify and treat oral or orthodontic issues present, if there’s any. If braces are required, we offer various types of braces and other orthodontic appliances to suit your needs. Our orthodontist can help you decide which one is best for you. Call us today to book your appointment.
13046 Falcon Drive
Baxter, MN 56425
Effects of Vaping on Teeth
Dr. Michael McDermott earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in both Chemistry and Biology from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. He followed his undergraduate degrees with a doctorate in dental surgery at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with highest distinction.
Dr. Mike then furthered his dental education by earning a masters and certificate in Orthodontics at the University of St. Louis in Missouri.