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Does Vaping Cause Tooth Damage? The Expert Opinion

Experts debunk claims that vaping causes tooth damage

Does Vaping Cause Tooth Damage?

According to many studies, there is little evidence to show vaping causes tooth damage.  A study by Newcastle University dentistry experts indicate that no long-term evidence related to oral health effects exists with regard to vaping in the UK. Both Public Health England and Cancer Research UK found E-Cigarettes to be at least 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes, indicating massive harm reduction compared to smoking tobacco.



Vaping and E-Cigarette use has been with us for a few years now, and as more studies are conducted into the health effects of vaping, we are seeing a wide range of articles and studies that contain conclusions from ‘E-Cigarettes are 97% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes’ to ‘vaping creates toxicity, inflammation, and stress on the arteries of the heart that appear to be worse than smoking tobacco’. In order to get an idea of which opinions are closest to the truth, we need to take in all the facts we have at our disposal.

One recent claim from the Cardiff Metropolitan University School of Sport and Health Science is that vaping causes tooth damage. The paper also contains a number of other statements that can be debated, so today’s article will focus on what the paper says, what the experts have to say in response, and whether other authorities agree.


What is an E-Cigarette

E-Cigarettes allow users to get nicotine into their bodies in a way that is almost identical to smoking. A battery supplies power to a heating element, which heats up a liquid mixture containing nicotine into an aerosol, which is then inhaled by the user.

There are a variety of different style E-Cigarettes - or ‘vapes’ - out there, each delivering a slightly different experience. Cigalike style E-Cigarettes are designed to look and feel like a cigarette, making it an easy switch for smokers. Cigalike E-Cigarettes typically use pre-filled cartridges, but you can find pre-filled pod-style vapes, too.

A step up from the pre-filled options are the vape pens or refillable pod vapes. These are often a bit more powerful than the pre-filled options, and require filling liquid into the tank yourself, as well as maintaining other consumable parts such as the coil that heats the liquid.

Then you have the vape mods, sometimes called ‘box mods’, which are the bigger, more complex devices that require filling and maintaining by the user. These are more for the experienced vapers who want the experience that these devices give: less throat hit (due to low nicotine content) and more vapour clouds!

E-liquids contain four ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, nicotine and flavourings

What is in E-Cigarettes and e-liquid

E-Cigarette refills are filled with e-liquid, the mixture containing nicotine. E-liquid itself is made up from propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), nicotine and flavourings. This means that the 4000+ harmful chemicals from the tobacco plant, as well as the nasty by-products of burning tobacco, are eliminated.

In the UK and Europe, there is strong regulation in place for the ingredients allowed in e-liquids. Frustratingly, this isn’t the case worldwide which has led to inaccurate articles scaremongering about the effects of vaping, based on unfortunate instances of users adding illicit substances like tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – by means of a carrier liquid: vitamin E acetate. All instances of EVALI in the United States have had vitamin E acetate present in the samples of lung fluid.

With regard to vaping and its impact on teeth, the study from Cardiff University paid particular attention to the vapour flavour, anticipating certain added flavourings to increase acidity and therefore corrosive potential. The study also mentions a flavouring that is banned from E-Cigarettes in the UK and Europe that is known to cause harm: diacetyl.

Diacetyl is linked to a lung condition called ‘bronchiolitis obliterans’, more commonly known as ‘popcorn lung’. It was used for buttery flavouring in popcorn factories and began to cause harm to workers who were inadvertently inhaling it. While safe to ingest, it is known to cause harm and for this reason is banned from inclusion in vapes in the UK and Europe.


What the study says about vaping

Where to begin!!

The study from Cardiff Metropolitan University claimed E-Cigarettes are associated with cancer. This is a loaded statement and is fraught with problems.

Firstly, we know that E-Cigarettes eliminate the harmful chemicals found in tobacco, of which over 50 are known to cause cancer. Secondly, they also exclude the formation of carbon monoxide which sticks to red blood cells reducing oxygen carrying capacity, and the formation of tar that negatively affects lung function – both of which are formed in the combustion process that e-cigarettes do not share.

Thirdly, many health authorities’ studies and evidence reviews disagree with the idea that E-Cigarettes are associated with cancer. Public Health England regularly reviews evidence on the matter, and the most recent evidence review maintains that E-Cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Cancer Research UK’s own investigations has led to their statement that E-Cigarettes are 97% less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

So – if there is a link between E-Cigarette users and cancer, what could be the cause? It’s a telling situation when the studies choose to ignore that E-Cigarettes are being used by smokers as a smoking cessation tool. The majority of vapers were smokers, so it is astounding that E-Cigarettes have become the scapegoat without any thought to the years a vaper may have spent smoking and the damage this has done to their body.

The study also claims that nicotine causes a high risk of oral health issues and whole-body health complications, citing a World Health Organization poster. There is an argument that if this was the case, nicotine replacement therapy products would be far more restricted, and would almost certainly cause harm when used for extended periods of time.

Vaping and Dentistry experts from Newcastle University debunk vaping causes tooth damage

What the experts said in response

Newcastle University vaping and dentistry experts Dr Richard Holliday, Professor Elaine McColl, Anthony Weke and Zelia Sayeed disagree with the study from Cardiff Metropolitan University, stating they were ‘disappointed to see several basic errors and misrepresentations’ in the paper.

In addition to pointing out that nicotine replacement products have been in use for over 30 years and are regarded as extremely safe, the experts pointed out that the reference used in the study to support a link between E-Cigarettes and cancer actually stated, ‘no long-term evidence related to oral and systemic health effects exists.’

The Cardiff paper also states that diacetyl is found in most flavoured vapes, which as mentioned earlier, is illegal to be included in e-liquids in the UK and Europe. This may be true of disposable vapes and e-liquids coming out of other countries like China where the regulation is less stringent, but is certainly untrue of e-liquids tested for sale in the EU and UK.

Other points that the Newcastle University team took issue with were that the Cardiff study misrepresented public health guidance with regard to E-Cigarettes and highlighted that as E-Cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they should not be treated as such.


Other points of view on the health risks of E-Cigarettes

Public Health England’s view on E-Cigarettes is that they are at least 95% less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes. While not entirely risk free, the toxins produced are at fractional levels of those found in tobacco cigarettes.

Cancer Research UK’s evidence led to their statement that E-Cigarettes are 97% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. The key point to keep in mind is that these figures are based on evidence from the UK, where good regulation protects the consumer.

Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates, points out that citing the WHO’s anti-vaping stance as the ‘official’ public health position was a fatal mistake for the Cardiff study as UK public bodies ignore the WHO’s advice. This may be due to the WHO’s position likely being heavily influenced by the happenings in the United States, where regulation was slow to come into effect, leading to a ‘wild west’ style vaping industry. This led to an overbearing implementation of regulation, where only tobacco and menthol flavours are now federally allowed by the FDA.


E-Cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes according to Public Health England

Does vaping cause tooth damage? The expert opinion: Conclusion

Another day; another vaping hit-piece. It’s important that vaping is thoroughly investigated as a new phenomenon to establish the exact risks, if any, are presented both short-and-long-term. However, there needs to be clarity and goodwill on the parts of everyone involved to get to the facts.

When food science lecturers decide to publish a study claiming dangers from vaping, we should ask what their motivations are. We know that smoking tobacco has negative effects on much of the body, including oral health, and as E-Cigarettes are a smoking cessation tool they should be referenced and compared to the harm done by cigarettes. The harm done by cigarettes before the smoker became a vaper should also be kept in mind as a big contributary factor to smoking related diseases that happen to arise when a smoker has transitioned to vaping.

If you are a smoker, making the switch to E-Cigarettes will eliminate most of the harm from smoking – by 95% according to Public Health England and 97% according to Cancer Research UK – so check out the SMOKO E-Cigarette starter kit range and make the switch today!

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