Dentists have long said that vaping is potentially worsening teeth and gum health. In addition, dentists can sometimes tell if a patient uses e-cigarettes, that is, vapes, just by looking in their mouth.

According to @dentistexplains on TikTok, dentists can tell because the dryness of mouth from vapes results in bad breath, bone loss, and increases in cavities, all of which can be caused by vaping.

Physical changes in teeth and gums from e-cigarettes are usually apparent to dentists. The problem has only grown in recent years. In 2022, 2.5 million middle and high school students reported vaping.

While vaping is an alternative to smoking, which is proven to cause cancer, vape liquids in e-cigarettes can also contain known carcinogens.

In 2021, a study of over 100 people concluded that vapers were more likely than nonsmokers to have a sign of clinical attachment loss, a sign of destructive gum disease.

Throughout the six-month study, researchers noted that changes in gum disease progression in e-cigarette users were more prevalent than in nonsmokers. 44% of cigarette smokers experienced progression, 29% of e-cigarette users experienced it, and 18% of nonsmokers experienced it.

But Avalene Roberts, a spokesperson for the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, stated that “there is not enough data or studies on the length of time it takes for the changes to occur, and there is still much to learn on the effects of vaping.”

She also said that if someone vapes habitually, “your dentist will notice immediately, as you may develop dryness of the mouth and tongue, and you may develop staining of the teeth if nicotine is used.”

Additionally, some manufacturers add sucrose and sugar alcohol to e-liquids to make them taste sweet. Sucrose and sugar alcohol can result in a greater risk of cavities.

Roberts also said that “some of the immediate giveaways that a patient has been [vaping] nicotine is dryness of the mouth and tongue, increase in cavities and gum disease, stained teeth, and mouth odor. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the gums, which can speed up the progression of periodontal disease.”

The best way to remedy any damage from vaping is to quit. In response to the damage already done, patients can undergo whitening procedures, according to Dr. Vivian A. Roknian, dentist and dental implantologist in California, and the gums can heal over time if the patient has quit vaping. However, this depends on how frequently and intensely the patient vaped.

If someone decides not to quit, the best thing to do is remain vigilant by continuing to floss and brush daily.

Roberts recommends regular dental cleanings and screenings for oral cancer.

It can be challenging to get over the mental hurdle to quit vaping. Roberts says that “one important thing to also note is that support while quitting is very helpful, and patients should avoid things that trigger oral habits. There are patches, gum, and tobacco cessation programs that can help.”