As an experienced Denver dentist, Dr. McGinty works hard to ensure her patients know how to avoid potential risks to their oral health. While most patients already know about the dangers of smoking, not everyone understands that vaping is just as dangerous a habit.
According to a recent study published in the journal Bio, the use of electronic cigarettes, a habit referred to as vaping, alters an individual’s oral health and may increase their risk of gum disease. Participants in the study who vaped developed a less healthy oral microbiome when compared to nonsmokers.
Conducted by a research team from New York University College of Dentistry, the study followed 84 adults 30 and older across three groups: those who vaped, those who smoked traditional cigarettes, and those who never smoked or vaped. The study discovered long-term consequences linked to vaping.
“To our knowledge, this is the first longitudinal study of oral health and e-cigarette use,” wrote the research team in their findings. “We are now beginning to understand how e-cigarettes and the chemicals they contain are changing the oral microbiome and disrupting the balance of bacteria.”
Delving Into the Effects of Vaping
Researchers have understood the long-term effects of smoking traditional cigarettes on the body for decades. However, little is still understood about the impact vaping has on a user’s gum health. The research team conducted their study hoping to learn more about what impact e-cigarettes may have on the body.
Using plaque samples collected as part of dental exams, the research team analyzed the bacteria present to determine the current gum health of each study participant. Samples were collected six months apart to allow more time for any gum disease to progress. Overall, 168 samples from 84 participants were examined as part of the final study.
All of the participants had some type of gum disease at the study’s outset. After six months, the gum disease had worsened for some participants in each smoking group.
E-cigarette users developed a different oral microbiome when compared to nonsmokers and traditional cigarette smokers. Their distinct oral microbiome was strongly correlated with signs of worsening cases of gum disease. Both Bacteroidales and Fusobacterium, two types of bacteria linked with the development of gum disease, were more prevalent in the mouths of those who vaped when compared with the other two groups.
“Vaping appears to be driving unique patterns in bacteria and influencing the growth of some bacteria in a manner similar to cigarette smoking, but with its own provide and associated health risks,” wrote the research team.
Additionally, vaping was linked to changes in the immune environment. People who vaped showed varying levels of immune regulating cytokines.
Specifically, participants who vaped had higher levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), a cytokine related to inflammation, and lower levels of interleukin (IL-4) and IL-1-beta, cytokines that tend to show up in smaller amounts in patients with untreated gum disease. These findings suggest that vaping may suppress the body’s immune system, making it harder to fight off an infection like gum disease.
Researchers believe the results of this study require more study to determine what long-term effects may have on an individual’s oral and overall health.
“Unlike smoking, which has been studied extensively for decades, we know little about the health consequences of e-cigarette use and are just starting to understand how the unique microbiome promoted by vaping impacts oral health and disease,” explained the research team in a statement.
An Experienced Denver Dentist can Help
Protecting your oral health from the long-term effects of smoking, vaping, or any other harmful habit requires regular dental care from an experienced Denver dentist like Dr. McGinty. With regular trips to our office, Dr. McGinty can spot any potential oral health problems before they can manifest into a more serious issue. Regular care will also allow Dr. McGinty to help restore your smile to health and reverse any damage done by smoking or vaping.