Which is Worse For Your Teeth?— Vaping, Tobacco, or Weed

Which is worse for your teeth—vaping, tobacco or weed? Until recently, tobacco used to be the most common vice that doctors and dentists alike had to deal with. The health problems around tobacco and cigarettes are widely known—but newer smoking options like vaping e-cigarettes and weed  still have a haze of mystery around them.

Which is worse for your teeth?

Is there an option out of the three that is better for your teeth and your oral health? Or is this just a “lesser of three evils” situation? Let’s take a look at which one may be the worst for your teeth and overall oral health.

Tobacco

tobacco and your teeth

The negative effects that smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products have been widely researched and accepted by the majority of Americans—but there are still an estimated 36.5 million Americans who are cigarette smokers.  Life-threatening diseases like lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other breathing issues almost always follow both short and long-term tobacco use. Smoking also significantly negatively impacts your oral health:

  • Lowered immune system. Smoking makes it harder for your body’s immune system to function properly and ward off infections. Even a simple infection can quickly turn into something worse (like sepsis) since your immune system can’t fight it.
  • Increase teeth wear. Chewing tobacco and unprocessed tobacco leaves contain small, abrasive particles that make your teeth more sensitive and wear down their surface over time.
  • Gum disease. Because smoking hinders your body’s ability to fight infections, gum disease is twice as likely to develop in smokers than in non-smokers. Reduced blood flow, increased inflammation, and increased bacteria make your mouth the perfect environment for periodontal disease.

Smokeless tobacco—aka chewing tobacco or “snuff”—is known to cause mouth, lip, tongue, and pancreas cancer. Even though they don’t produce smoke, they’re full of at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals. Sugar is also commonly added to chewing tobacco causing increased tooth decay.

Vaping

vaping and your teeth
vapeing NOT smoking

E-cigarettes have exploded on the market over the past few years; you can hardly walk down the street without seeing a group of teenagers blowing smoke out of machines that look more like USB drives than traditional cigarettes. On the surface, vaping may seem like a safer alternative to regular cigarettes, but they still are full of health issues.

  • Dry mouth. Some vaping liquids such as propylene glycol are known to cause mouth dryness. Since your mouth uses saliva to protect your mouth and gums, chronic mouth dryness can cause bad breath, mouth sores, and tooth decay.
  • Inflamed gums. A few studies suggest that e-cigarettes trigger an inflammatory response in gum tissue. If your gums are regularly inflamed, this can easily lead to periodontal disease.
  • Cell death. Vaping aerosols have been linked to DNA damage. The damage makes it more difficult for your cells to divide and grow—speeding up cell aging as well as increasing your risk of tooth loss, bone loss, and general periodontal disease.

Since vaping is relatively new on the scene, the research is still out on just how detrimental it is to your teeth compared to tobacco products. But the research that’s already out there isn’t looking good: almost every study shows that vaping and e-cigs harm your mouth’s health and should be avoided.

Weed

weed
Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash

Marijuana or weed is quickly becoming more socially accepted and even legal in a growing number of states. Even though the laws surrounding marijuana have made any research on its health impacts more difficult to document, there is still a lot of evidence that weed negatively impacts your teeth.

  • Cottonmouth. One of the most common side effects from smoking weed is xerostomia, or “cottonmouth”. Since saliva helps prevent plaque build-up and flushes out bacteria, frequent dry mouth may speed up tooth decay.
  • Teeth discoloration. Frequent smokers often experience teeth discoloration. While this isn’t a serious health concern, it is something that can make others think you have poor hygiene.
  • Gingivitis. Cannabis use has been linked to gum inflammation and gingivitis. This may be due to the smoke and not the weed itself. But people who smoke their weed do report increased gum issues.

The Bottom Line

Your mouth plays an important role in your body’s overall health—keeping it clean and healthy should be one of your top priorities throughout your life. At the end of the day, there’s no “winner’. All three smoking options have a negative impact on your oral health. Your mouth hates smoke in any form and should be avoided if you want a healthy, bright smile.

So the answer is all three are worse for your teeth.

About the Author

upload imageEmma Davis  A true digital nomad, Emma spends her time writing and traveling the globe in pursuit of her next great adventure. From travel guides to career advice, she hopes to help readers see the world as she experiences it—helping others craft a life where they can work hard and play often..

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