A new study warns that it only takes a few months of vaping to pave the way for oral diseases and potentially even cancer. This effect was found in vapers who were otherwise young and healthy regardless of whether they vaped liquids with or without nicotine. Changes in bacteria in a vaper’s mouth were found to have occurred within months of use, allowing harmful microbes to get a foothold.
The human mouth is full of bacteria that play an important role in not only oral but also heart and brain health. Vaping, researchers with Ohio State University have found, has a major impact on these oral microbes, causing dangerous changes that pave the way for gum disease, tooth loss, and even oral cancer.
In fact, the study found that even long-term cigarette smokers developed a more damaging oral bacteria profile after as few as three months of electronic cigarette use. This is particularly concerning in light of the popular belief that vaping is a less harmful alternative to cigarette smoking.
The researchers describe the microbes found in the mouths of young, healthy vapers as ‘startling.’ The study discovered that bacterial communities retrieved from plaque were coated in a ‘slime’ that triggered inflammation in the gums. As well, the researchers found that there were higher levels of proteins in these participants’ mouths, indicating that the immune system was ready to trigger more inflammation.
The reason for this, the researchers explain, is that the disruption to the oral bacteria essentially means the immune system no longer recognizes them, triggering ‘a huge inflammatory response.’ The condition was observed as more severe the longer the vapes were used, and this was true even if the liquid didn’t include nicotine or flavors.