Are E-Cigarettes and Vaping Bad for Your Mouth and Oral Health?

April 01, 2020 4 min read

And more specifically, does vaping harm the health of your oral microbiome?

woman, vaping, electronic cigarette, oral health

With vaping and e-cigarette use on the rise, especially among teens and young adults, there are a lot of people asking if vaping is better for you than smoking. The idea that e-cigarettes are healthier choices, compared to smoking, or even a healthy choice by itself has spurred rapid growth in vaping.

While there is a growing mound of evidence that demonstrates that electronic cigarettes are as unhealthy as traditional cigarettes, one area that is rarely mentioned is the effect that vaping has on the health of the bacteria in your mouth and oral cavity.

According to a recently conducted study by the NYU College of Dentistry, the short answer to that question is not only does vaping alter the bacterial composition in your mouth (for the worse) but it can increase the growth of infection-causing bacteria as well.

And, quite surprisingly, this study showed that the changes that vaping causes in the oral bacteria actually raises the risk of infection among vapers to high levels than not only non-smokers BUT smokers as well!

 Here are some key points to consider, e-cigarettes and vaping: 

  • The use of e-cigarettes changes the makeup of your oral microbiome. (A microbiome is just the group of all the microorganisms that live in/with the human body, or a part of the body such as the gut or the mouth).
  • One such change in the oral microbiome, is that vaping encourages the growth of lots of oral pathobionts. (A pathobiont is a type of microorganism that is normally present and not harmful BUT can turn harmful. For example, certain bacteria are harmless until they overgrow and create problems. This happens in the mouth and the abundance of these “pathobionts” is the root cause of most tooth decay and gum disease.)
  • E-cigarettes are loaded with high concentrations of nicotine, chemicals and toxic compounds. Needless to say, these are harmful to the tissues in the oral cavity.
  • The compounds in e-cigarettes, by damaging the outer layers of tissue lining the mouth, weaken those layers and make them more susceptible to infections.
  • Vaping raises the level of gum inflammation by triggering immune response.

As you probably know by now, microbes and bacteria are not all bad things–despite what soap and cleaning product commercials have tried to teach you. They are an integral part of human life and play critical roles in energy production, digestion, immunity, hormone production and numerous other physical functions.

Bottom line, bacteria is vital to your existence and your mouth is the primary gateway for microbes to enter your body… and there are trillions of them! The state of your oral microbiome has effects far beyond your mouth. Aside from gum disease, tooth decay, bad breath and a number of ear-nose-throat infections, the health of your entire body is affected by an unhealthy state of oral bacteria.

A simple way to look at this is that a healthy bacterial balance in the mouth leads to a healthy mouth and benefits the entire body–even emotional health! A healthy mouth lowers the risk of linked diseases such as dementia, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other serious ailments.

Like all medical studies, the wording is quite complex, but, in simplicity, its concluding results were: (see below for a link to the study) 

  • E-cigarettes alters the bacterial richness and diversity of the oral microbiome.
  • An examination and breakdown of the altered bacterial environment pointed to a state of microbial dysbiosis (dysbiosis is not a good thing, it is term for when the bacterial balance becomes deranged and “out of whack” and dysbiosis is related to unhealthy conditions).
  • Vaping increased the growth of harmful (pathogenic) bacteria in the mouth. It also triggered immune system reactions leading to inflammation. For example, it was found that the count of two types of bacteria associated with gum disease was found to be significantly higher amongst (If you are interested, these pathogenic bacteria have the fun names, Porphyromonas and Veillonella)
  • Vaping weakened the cells in the mouth and raises their susceptibility to infections.
  • There were higher markers of cytokines (substances that the immune system puts out) found in vapers which suggests that vaping triggers inflammation and the immune system.

In conclusion, vaping is not a “safe substitute for smoking” but is in its own way just as harmful. It is trading one poison for another. It has a very bad effect on your oral health, and from there on the health of your entire body.

One other important point is the toxicity of the chemical compounds found in e-cigarettes. While this was not a part of this study, it is a known fact that the e-cigarette formulations contain numerous toxins and carcinogenic chemicals. Just do an internet search for “vaping disease” and check the statistics: numerous dead and thousands hit with severe lung injury.

Hopefully this will help you to see the dangers of vaping and quit. Or, at the very least, understand the risks and see that this is NOT a safe habit.


LINK to NYU Study on electronic cigarettes, vaping and the oral health of your oral microbiome 


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