As any patient who’s visited our dentist office in Eugene knows, Dr. Feldmanis remains committed to protecting her patients’ health. Even during this time of COVID, we must still remember that the habits we choose to engage in can also negatively impact our health. When our immune systems need to work their best, we must seriously reconsider whether certain habits like vaping are really worth the damage they can do to our bodies.
Despite the various claims about how vaping offers a safer alternative than smoking, a growing amount of research has found that simply untrue. Researchers who’ve examined the bacteria in the mouths of young and healthy vapers say that the potential for the development of future disease sits waiting just below the surface.
After examining a collection of oral bacteria from the mouths of daily e-cigarette users, researchers discovered their mouths were full of infection-causing organisms that increase vapers’ risk for diseases that range from gum disease to cancer.
Even though the individuals examined during the study didn’t have any active diseases, the oral bacteria composition of the study participants resembled that of individuals with periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, a primary cause of adult tooth loss, and a risk factor for heart and lung disease. Patients with periodontitis need to make regular visits to our dentist office in Eugene so that Dr. Feldmanis can work to restore their gum tissue back to health.
The damaging effects were recorded by researchers in e-cigarette users who used both nicotine and nicotine-free vaping cartridges. This has led researchers to believe that the heated and pressurized liquids in vaping cartridges are a likely culprit in transforming the mouths of vapers into a welcoming home for harmful oral bacteria.
The Dangers of Vaping
Vaping may seem harmless, but the habit visciously attacks the oral environment and causes changes to occur over a remarkably short period of time.
Even longtime current and former smokers who participated in the study, individuals whose tobacco habit would have given disease-causing bacteria a welcome home, experienced more damage to their oral environment after only 3 to 12 months of vaping. These findings seriously call into question claims made by vaping manufacturers about the safety of their product.
Stopping smoking, only to start vaping, doesn’t help to improve your long-term oral health. In fact, the habit may cause even more harm to your oral health than smoking traditional cigarettes.
As part of the study, researchers collected plaque samples from beneath the gums of 123 people who showed no signs of experiencing oral disease. The group consisted of 25 smokers, 25 nonsmokers, 20 e-cigarette users, 25 former e-cigarette users, and 28 participants who both smoked and vaped at the same time.
Bacteria that accumulates beneath the gum line ranks as some of the last to be impacted by daily habits like eating, smoking, or even brushing. As a result, this bacteria provides a better glimpse of an individual’s potential long-term oral health than bacteria that sits on the surface level.
Researchers conducted deep DNA sequencing of the bacteria genomes to identify not just the types of microbes living in the mouth, but also to determine their function.
The oral microbiome of the participants who had vaped for between 4 to 13 months, but who had never smoked and reported enjoying good oral health, was surprising to researchers.
The most troubling aspect were the levels of stress in the microbial community, which were registered by the activation of genes that contributed to the creation of a mucus-like slime layer that surrounded the bacterial growth. When covered in this type of slime, it causes the body’s immune system to attack, resulting in an inflammatory response. Inflammation is the primary cause of gum disease.
Healthier Mouth Leads to a Healthier Body
During these uncertain times, when we need a healthy and properly functioning immune system, it’s vital that we reconsider the bad habits while reinforcing the good.
Smoking or vaping contributes greatly to weakening your oral health, which in turns leads to a more compromised immune system. Patients who visit our dentist office in Eugene know just how important their oral health is to their overall health. Dr. Feldmanis hopes that during this time we all reconsider what we’re willing to risk our health for, and if it’s really worth it.