Vaping, the use of e-cigarettes, is increasing among young people. However, researchers with expertise in periodontal disease are now warning that vaping can have a negative impact on oral health.

In a survey conducted in 2022 in Sweden, one in five 14–15-year-olds had used e-cigarettes at some point in the past month, according to CAN, the Swedish Centre for Alcohol and Drug Information.

An additional danger of e-cigarettes is that you can keep them in your mouth all the time, you don't get a break.

Andreas Stavropoulos

“We believe it is problematic that e-cigarettes have been marketed as being less harmful than regular cigarettes. We don't know what the long-term effects are," says Andreas Stavropoulos, Professor of Periodontology at Malmö University and Chair of the Scientific Committee of the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP).

It is well known that tobacco smoking has a negative impact on oral health. Smokers are more likely to suffer from both periodontal disease and oral cancer, and today several studies also show the link between poor oral health and cardiovascular disease. However, how vaping affects oral health is not as clear.

“We know that nicotine reduces blood circulation in the gums, but more research is needed in this area to see how vaping affects oral health and general health. Some studies show that vaping is harmful to the mouth and gums, especially among people who have never smoked before. It appears that vaping negatively affects the microbial environment in the mouth” says Stavropoulos, adding:

“An additional danger of e-cigarettes is that you can keep them in your mouth all the time, you don't get a break. Even nicotine-free vapes contain a range of other chemicals that we don't know how they affect our health over time.”

The health risks identified so far are damage to the heart, blood vessels, and the lungs. Numerous organisations and authorities, such as the US CDC (Center for Disease Control), AHA (American Heart Association), WHO (World Health Organization), and FDI (World Dental Federation) also advise against using e-cigarettes to try to quit regular cigarettes.

“The EFP urges health and dental professionals not to suggest vaping as a smoking cessation option. The risk is that people will continue to smoke, only that they will use both regular and e-cigarettes. It is much better to recommend abstinence from smoking, regardless of the type of cigarette," adds Stavropoulos.

Text: Anna Dahlbeck & Adrian Grist