Black woman covering mouth | vaping and oral health
Read time: 10 min

Rate this article and enter to win

Key points:

  • Vaping introduces toxins into your mouth that can lead to poor oral health.
  • To protect your teeth, the best defense is to quit. 
  • If you’re not ready to quit, rinse or brush after vaping and get frequent dental checkups.
Smoking cigarettes is quickly becoming a thing of the past. These days, most young smokers are using e-cigarettes (vaping or juuling). But how do e-cigarettes stack up against traditional cigarettes when it comes to your oral health? 


“While it is true that vaping may be less harmful than traditional cigarettes, this does not mean that they are safe,” says Dr. Alec S. Eidelman, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Dental Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts.

Preliminary research shows that prolonged vaping can lead to negative oral health outcomes. This includes issues such as: Dry mouth and bad breath (halitosis), Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), Dental cavities (dental caries), Increased risk of tooth loss (periodontitis), Increased risk of oral cancer

The stresses of the pandemic may lead to increased vaping use among students—who are stuck at home, isolated from their friends, with higher reported rates of anxiety and depression than ever before, according to ongoing research by Dartmouth College. Sedentary behavior has also increased since the pandemic began, taking a toll on students’ physical and mental health. 

Feelings of fear, loneliness, and boredom—or just a few minutes scrolling through your news feed—might trigger your desire to vape; however, new research indicates that vaping can increase your chances of getting infected with the virus. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that e-cigarette users aged 13-24 were five times as likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to nonusers. This is presumably because vaping impairs lung function (with damage comparable to cigarette smoking), and you’re also more likely to touch your mouth or face when vaping. 

Given all the added stressors in our lives, it may not seem like the ideal time to quit vaping, However, if you feel like this is the last push you needed to get you over that hurdle, check out the Truth Initiative’s This is Quitting text-based program for inspiration and support to help you through the quitting process.

How vaping affects your oral health

The American Dental Association (ADA) urges people to quit smoking and vaping. The ADA says that vaping could be just as dangerous to your teeth and gums as smoking cigarettes. 

“The dental concerns for vaping are very similar to those seen with cigarette smoking. Exposure to nicotine and added chemicals can dry the mouth and cause changes in the oral tissues,” says Brittany Akl, registered dental hygienist and program operations coordinator for the Oral Health Improvement Program at the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin. 

vape pen | vaping and oral health“The saliva in our mouths is the body’s best and most abundant defense mechanism,” says Dr. Eidelman. However, any negative impact to the amount of saliva or introducing toxins to saliva weakens its ability to maintain oral health and fight off bad bacteria and infection.

As the amount of bacteria increases, “eventually, in the long term, it can lead to cavities, tooth loss, bad breath, and increased risk of oral cancer,” says Dr. Smruti Pushalkar, research scientist and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Pathobiology in the College of Dentistry at New York University.

Dr. Pushalkar’s research found that both cigarette and e-cigarette users had a higher rate of gum disease and infection compared to nonsmokers.

Vaping adds toxins to your mouth

“Despite their lack of tobacco, most [vaping, juuling, and e-cigarette] products still have high levels of nicotine (which is highly addictive) and carcinogens, which are very bad for your health,” says Sara C., second-year graduate student at Florida International University in Miami.

“The most worrisome aspect of vaping is not having certainty of what chemicals are in each vaping product and how they will affect the development of every aspect of the body from long-term vaping exposure,” says Dr. Eidelman.

toxic sign | vaping and oral healthWhile what’s in vaping liquids varies, we know they usually contain nicotine and other toxic compounds, often at high concentrations. Research has shown that flavored vaping liquids like bubble gum have the highest concentrations of toxic chemicals. (Vaping with flavored liquids is so popular that researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, estimate that there are over 10,000 flavors currently available.) 

“I used [vaping] as a way to relieve stress, then I felt what it did to my body and quit. I wish I would have been better educated on what health issues are associated with smoking anything,” says Megan P., fifth-year student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Over time, the effects of vaping can lead to tooth loss and cancer

“The earlier someone starts and the longer they practice vaping, the greater likelihood of adverse dental and overall health outcomes,” says Dr. Jeffrey L. Ebersole, professor and associate dean of research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Dental Medicine.

The onset of dental issues due to vaping varies based on many factors.

“Dry mouth or bad breath can be immediate. Things like tooth decay and [gum] disease can begin in just a few months, especially if you also have poor health, poor oral hygiene, additional substance use, or an unhealthy diet. Oral cancer takes longer to develop,” says Akl. “Imagine the amount of exposure [you] will have throughout [your] life.”

For healthier teeth, rinse, get checkups, and quit vaping

tooth character | vaping and oral health

To reduce the impact of vaping on your oral health, “first, and foremost, stop vaping,” says Dr. Ebersol. Quitting will stop the continuous flow of vaping liquid and toxins into your mouth, along with reducing the impact to your overall, long-term health. 

If you’re not ready to quit yet, one thing you can do to improve your oral health is to rinse after vaping. The goal is to remove the nicotine and toxins from your mouth.

“Rinse the mouth with either mouthwash or water to reduce plaque building on the teeth and the accumulation of bacteria from the vaping liquid,” says Dr. Pushalkar.

In addition, “a continuous and routine relationship with a dental professional is a major step in the right direction,” says Dr. Ebersol. 

“It’s advisable to go twice a year for a dental checkup and cleaning. Vaping users can go more often—four times [per year] for dental health checkups and to address tartar and plaque buildup,” says Dr. Pushalkar.

Another drawback? Increasing dental checkups and cleanings to combat the effects of vaping liquids can increase your expenses. Even if you have dental insurance, most plans only cover two of these visits per year. That means two additional visits could cost you an extra $200 per year (based on the average cost of a cleaning). And if you have excessive plaque or tartar buildup from vaping and other factors, the cost can increase by an additional $100 or more per visit. 

Without insurance, one way to get affordable dental care is to explore reduced-cost visits to students at a dental school. You can search for a dental school near you on the American Dental Association website.

Need help quitting? These resources will help.

“I always knew it was bad for me; that’s why I quit. I originally used [vaping] to help me quit smoking cigarettes, which worked. Then, once more research came out about how bad vaping was, I quit that too. It was easier to quit [vaping] than cigarettes,” says Madison C., a fourth-year student at Portland State University in Oregon.

SMU Resources
GET HELP OR FIND OUT MORE

What was the most interesting thing you read in this article?

Have you seen at least one thing on that you will apply to everyday life?
Have you seen at least one thing on that caused you to get involved, ask for help, utilize campus resources, or help a friend?
If you could change one thing about , what would it be?
Are there any other topics or angles you would like to see in , that we haven't covered?
First name: ?

Last name:

E-mail:

I do not reside in Nevada Or Hawaii:

Want to increase your chances to win?

Refer up to 3 of your friends and when each visits , you will receive an additional entry into the weekly drawing.

Please note: Unless your friend chooses to opt-in, they will never receive another email from after the initial referral email.

Email 1:

Email 2:

Email 3:

What was the most interesting thing you read in this article?

Have you seen at least one thing on that you will apply to everyday life?
Have you seen at least one thing on that caused you to get involved, ask for help, utilize campus resources, or help a friend?
If you could change one thing about , what would it be?
Are there any other topics or angles you would like to see in , that we haven't covered?
First name: ?

Last name:

E-mail:

I do not reside in Nevada Or Hawaii:

Want to increase your chances to win?

Refer up to 3 of your friends and when each visits , you will receive an additional entry into the weekly drawing.

Please note: Unless your friend chooses to opt-in, they will never receive another email from after the initial referral email.

Email 1:

Email 2:

Email 3:



Have you seen at least one thing on that you will apply to everyday life?
Have you seen at least one thing on that caused you to get involved, ask for help, utilize campus resources, or help a friend?
Are there any other topics or angles you would like to see in , that we haven't covered?
First name: ?

Last name:

E-mail:

I do not reside in Nevada Or Hawaii:

Want to increase your chances to win?

Refer up to 3 of your friends and when each visits , you will receive an additional entry into the weekly drawing.

Please note: Unless your friend chooses to opt-in, they will never receive another email from after the initial referral email.

Email 1:

Email 2:

Email 3:



Individuals under the age of 13 may not enter or submit information to this giveaway.
Your data will never be shared or sold to outside parties. View our Privacy Policy. TERMS & CONDITIONS


Article sources

Brittany Akl, RDH, MSHS, program operations coordinator, Oral Health Improvement Program, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin.

Jeffrey L. Ebersole, PhD, professor and associate dean for research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Dental Medicine.

Alec S. Eidelman, DMD, MPH, postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Smruti Pushalkar, PhD, research scientist and adjunct assistant professor, Department of Molecular Pathobiology, New York University College of Dentistry.

American Dental Association. (2019, October 21). American Dental Association statement on vaping. ADA. https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2019-archives/october/american-dental-association-statement-on-vaping

American Dental Association. (2020, June 15). Dentists can take lead, action in responding to vaping smoke. ADA. https://www.ada.org/en/publications/new-dentist-news/2020-archive/june/dentist-can-take-lead-action-in-responding-to-vaping-spike

Drazen, J. M., Morrissey, S., & Campion, E. W. (2019). The dangerous flavors of e-cigarettes. New England Journal of Medicine, 380, 679–680. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMe1900484

Ebersole, J., Samburova, V., Son, Y., Cappelli, D., et al. (2020). Harmful chemicals emitted from electronic cigarettes and potential deleterious effects in the oral cavity. Tobacco Induced Diseases, 18, 41. https://doi.org/10.18332/tid/116988 

Huckins, J. F., daSilva, A. W., Wang, W., Hedlund, E., et al. (2020, June 17). Mental health and behavior of college students during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic: Longitudinal smartphone and ecological momentary assessment study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(6). doi:10.2196/20185

Kim, S., Smith, S., Beauchamp, C., Song, Y., et al. (2018). Cariogenic potential of sweet flavors in electronic-cigarette liquids. PLoS One, 13(9), e0203717. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203717

Layden, J. E., Ghinai, I., Pray, I., Kimball, A., et al. (2020). Pulmonary illness related to e-cigarette use in Illinois and Wisconsin – final report. New England Journal of Medicine, 382(10), 903–916. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1911614 

Mathur Gaiha, S., Cheng, J., & Halpern-Felsher, B. (2020, August 11). Association between youth smoking, electronic cigarette use, and coronavirus disease 2019. Journal of Adolescent Health. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.07.002

Pothier, K. (2019, August 16). Vaping and oral health. Dentistry Insider. https://dentistryinsider.tamhsc.edu/vaping-and-oral-health

Pushalkar, S., Paul, B., Li, Q., Yang, J., et al. (2020). Electronic cigarette aerosol modulates the oral microbiome and increases risk of infection. iScience, 23(3), 100884. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2020.100884 

Samburova, V., Bhattarai, C., Strickland, M., Darrow, L., et al. (2018). Aldehydes in exhaled breath during e-cigarette vaping: Pilot study results. Toxics, 6(3), 46. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics6030046 

Schiff, A. M., & Goodwin, J. (2016, July 19). 2016 Dental Economics annual fee survey. Dental Economics. https://www.dentaleconomics.com/practice/article/16388092/the-dental-economics-annual-fee-survey.

US Food and Drug Administration. (2020, July 31). Tobacco product problem reports. FDA. https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/tobacco-science-research/tobacco-product-problem-reports#ends.

Zhu, S.-H., Sun, J. Y., Bonnevie, E., Cummins, S. E., et al. (2014). Four hundred and sixty brands of e-cigarettes and counting: Implications for product regulation. Tobacco Control, 23(Suppl 3), iii3–iii9. https://doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2014-051670