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Smoking e-cigarettes may increase your gum disease risk, says study

Updated on:12 May 2021, 05:45am IST
We all know how smoking is bad for our lungs and heart but turns out, it alters the microbiome in our mouth as well, increasing the chances of gum disease.
PTI
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e-cigarettes and gum disease
Put down that e-cigarette for the sake of your oral health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Smoking is injurious for health. While this awareness is quite high–especially when it comes to lung and heart health–there’s little or no knowledge about how badly it can affect your oral health.

Yes, smoking impacts your gum and teeth health too. And if you thought that vaping has lesser health risks as compared to cigarettes, then you need to read this.

According to a recent study published in the journal iScience, vaping may alter different species of bacteria living in the mouth, making the user more prone to gum infections and inflammation.

It also noted that the mouth harbours many microbial species–the microbiome that colonises our respiratory and digestive tracts and raises the risk of gum disease by fostering an environment conducive for infection-causing bacteria to flourish.

“Given the popularity of vaping, it is critical that we learn more about the effects of e-cigarette aerosols on the oral microbiome and host inflammatory responses in order to better understand the impact of vaping on human health,” said Xin Li, study co-author from New York University (NYU) in the US.

Deepak Saxena, another co-author from NYU says: 

Research shows that changes in the oral microbial community as a result of environmental and host factors contribute to a range of health issues, including cavities, gum disease, halitosis, and medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers.

In the study, the researchers also examined e-cigarette vapour and its influence on the oral microbiome and immune health. It also shed some light on how vaping affects the infection efficiency of oral pathogens in cell lines.

To study the oral microbiome, the scientists recruited 119 participants from three groups: e-cigarette users, regular cigarette smokers, and those who had never smoked. It was found that gum disease was notably higher among cigarette smokers–about 72.5%; followed by e-cigarette users at about 42.5% and non-smokers at 28.2%. 

Different microorganisms were found in the saliva of e-cigarette users, cigarette smokers, and non-smokers. The researchers said e-cigarette users had an abundance of Porphyromonas bacteria–which causes an inflammatory disease that deface the tissues supporting the tooth which can lead to tooth loss. While an increase in Veillonella bacteria-causing oral infections was found in both e-cigarette and cigarette users.

Also, read: Wondering just how bad smoking is for your skin? Well, here’s a tell-all guide you won’t be able to ignore

“The predominance of these periodontal pathogens in the mouths of e-cigarette users and traditional smokers are a reflection of compromised periodontal health,” Li said.

The scientists also found that the altered microbiome in e-cigarette users influenced the local host immune environment compared to non-smokers and cigarette smokers. Further, according to the study, e-cigarette aerosols made cells prone to bacterial infection, pointing to a greater risk for infection in e-cigarette users.

Also, listen:

“Our study suggests that vaping electronic cigarettes causes shifts in the oral environment and highly influences the colonisation of complex microbial biofilms, which raises the risk for oral inflammation and infection,” Saxena concluded.

So think about your oral health before vaping again!