Vaping and dental health

In high school in the ‘70s, everybody smoked, and I walked through a virtual haze on my way through the front door every morning. I joined the cool kids on more than a few occasions, standing outside in the cold Indiana winter in my polyester shirt and shark tooth necklace, puffing away and trying desperately to look cool and fit in. For the most part, it worked.

I remember my high school sweetheart (was she attracted to me, or to the cigarette dangling oh-so-carelessly from my mouth?) and our first kiss. Oh, it should have been memorable and sweet, as I tasted the subtle flavor of her strawberry lip gloss and enjoyed the aroma of her drugstore perfume! I kissed her. Ack! She tasted like a cigarette! She smelled like a cigarette! And so, I suppose, did I. First kiss ruined. Instead of thinking of young love, she made me think of my spinster Aunt Agnes who constantly smoked Virginia Slims and talked with a gravelly voice.

It seems today there is a somewhat different dynamic afoot as vaping replaces smoking. At first I thought it was just a young person’s fad. I’ve long since given up cigarettes, but do still enjoy the occasional Cuban Robusto and a glass of single malt. But always young at heart, I did want to see what it was all about, and I did see some immediate benefits, not the least of which is that there is virtually no residual smell – something that would have benefitted me greatly in my younger days, when I would come home, and my mother – who had the nose of a bloodhound – would take one sniff and say, “Have you been smoking!?”

Why are smoker’s teeth so ugly?

One of the biggest drawbacks to tobacco has always been “smoker’s teeth,” and you can always tell the pack-a-day crowd by just one look at their smile. Long-term smoking, simply put, turns your teeth yellow. It’s not a pretty sight.

What causes that discoloration? Sometimes incorrectly referred to as “nicotine stains,” the discoloration is not caused by nicotine, but rather, by the smoke. Smoke contains tar, which is left behind to build up on teeth and cause those unsightly stains.

Why do vapers smile so often?

I have discovered much to my delight that vaping is another story entirely. Vaping does not leave stains on your teeth. Because there is no smoke, there is no tar, and because there is no tar, there is no staining of teeth. Not only that, “smoker’s breath” is also no longer a factor for those who switch from smoking to vaping.

Also as a style conscious gentleman of a certain age, I’ve been delighted with the options available. I’ve never liked the look of a pack of cigarettes in my shirt pocket, but there are plenty of vaping starter kits on the market with slick designs and a variety of colors.

Vaping and your dental health

Besides the absence of discoloration and smoker’s breath, there’s another dental health benefit to vaping instead of smoking. Tar, it seems, is a nasty substance. It’s sticky. That, along with the other chemicals in cigarette smoke, leave behind a residue that sticks to your teeth, which can cause buildup of tartar, resulting in plaque buildup. And it’s that plaque buildup that leads to tooth decay and cavities, and ultimately, expensive trips to the dentist.

One study examined smokers who switched from combustible cigarettes to e-cigarettes, to determine if oral health would be improved. The study looked at plaque buildup and bleeding of gums, and noted a clear improvement in these and many other oral health parameters. Overall, the study showed that after switching from smoking to vaping, oral health was significantly improved, and those who switched to vaping were less at risk of weakened tooth enamel, experienced less plaque buildup and less bleeding of the gums, and less periodontal disease.

Let’s face it, nobody wants that first kiss to taste like an ashtray, and no amount of breath spray or Tic Tacs will take away that smoker’s breath. A switch from smoking to vaping may well do wonders for your love life.

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