BOSTON — Is it another reason not to vape? Researchers at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine found that vapers are at higher risk of developing cavities than non-vapers.
After studying the records of more than 13,000 patients who passed through the school’s dental clinic, the researchers found the cavity risk of non-vapers was around 20 percentage points lower than the risk for vapers –in those at highest risk for dental caries in the first place.
The research appears in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.
Why is this so? For starters, vapes, flavored and non-flavored, contain sugars — specifically, glycerin.
“Bacteria in the mouth which feed on these sugary things produce acid, which dissolves your teeth,” said lead author Karina Irusa, BDS, MS, an assistant professor of Comprehensive Care at Tufts. “Which then makes the teeth decay or cavitate.”
Not only that, but these sugary substances reduce or thicken saliva secretion.
“In dentistry, saliva is very important because it dilutes the components of your mouth,” Irusa said. “It also balances the pH in your mouth. So anything that causes saliva flow to go down typically increases decay.”
And then there is the detrimental effect of nicotine.
“Nicotine in conventional cigarettes has been linked to shifting the relationship between your healthy bacteria and your bad bacteria in the mouth,” Irusa said. “In vitro studies showed vaping has a similar effect, where they make the bad bacteria grow and become more aggressive and they pretty much suppress the good bacteria in the mouth.”
What’s troubling to Irusa is that researchers don’t know whether vaping brings additional harm to teeth and gums — because it’s still relatively new.
“We haven’t started seeing the worst of the side effects,” she said. “We probably won’t see it for another ten, fifteen years.”
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