Can switching from smoking to vaping improve oral health?

One of the most potentially uncomfortable issues with being a smoker is having to visit the dentist.  No matter how many times that you brush your teeth beforehand, a rather lengthy and often embarrassing lecture about the dangers of smoking on oral health is almost certain to follow.   Dentists’ warnings of how smoking leads to bleeding gums, plaque building, bad breath, and periodontal disease often make smokers feel as if they have no choice.  “Sure, Doc.  I promise.  By the next time we meet, I’ll have quit smoking permanently.”

False promises aside, a new study out of Italy is indicating that making the switch to vaping can vastly improve oral health.  Your dentist will still probably give you a lecture, but she’ll surely appreciate your efforts. 

Overview of the Italian vaping study

Did you know that regular smoking can have a severe impact on your ability to taste and smell?  In the Italian’s vaping study related to oral and general health conducted by scientists from the Research Institute Tecnologica in Crotone, lead author Dr. Marco Tatullo indicates that switching to vaping can vastly improve these capabilities and in a rather short timeframe.

“Unanimous positive response was reported for the self-perception of smell and taste variations: none of the subjects reported a worsening. More in detail, over 80% of subjects clearly indicated a positive variation in both smell and taste perception…the other subjects did not feel substantial changes to disclose...”
“Similarly, a large percentage (78%) of subjects interestingly reported a reduction of the frequency of respiratory diseases…The final entry of the questionnaire, about the perceived need to smoke, revealed that 96 out of 110 subjects felt only a moderate or absent need to smoke; the other 14 patients revealed to perceive the need to turn back to combustible cigarettes…”

The researchers began their experiment by soliciting the help of 350 smoking volunteers who agreed to transition completely to electronic cigarettes for a period of 120-days.  The participants were under consistent observation throughout the project, and those who were caught smoking were immediately discounted from the trial results.

Related Article:  Switching to vaping: The truth about cigarette butt pollution

Of the original 350 participants, about 110 were successful in remaining completely smoke-free for the full four months.  Still, that averages out to a success rate of quitting smoking through vaping of about 31.4 percent, which is quite remarkable on its own.  Other key findings include the following.

  • The 350 participants were categorized into two groups: Smokers with histories over ten years and smokers with histories under ten years.
  • Throughout the clinical trial, biomarkers of plaque index levels, instances of bleeding gums, and other deviations in oral and general health were systematically and periodically collected, analyzed, and scored.
  • At the beginning of the study, about 85 percent of the Category One participants exhibited plaque index scores on the higher end of the spectrum, falling somewhere between 2-3 ratings. By the end of the trial, a whopping 92 percent exhibited plaque index scores of zero.
  • Comparatively, the Category Two group dropped sharply from 73 percent to 98 percent respectively.
  • At the beginning of the study, about 61 percent of the Category One participants complained of bleeding gums. 120-days later, the problems were completely resolved for about 82 percent of respondents.
  • Comparatively for Category Two participants, 65 percent complained of bleeding gums and 98 percent claimed to be “cured” four months later.
  • Collectively across both groups, 78 percent reported to have experienced significant improvements in respiratory functions, as well.
  • Over 80 percent of respondents further claimed to have experienced a significant improvement in both taste and smell.

When plaque indexes are lower, the chances of being diagnosed with periodontal disease such as chronic gingivitis also decline.  Gingivitis can cause chronic bad breath and lead to tooth loss and other oral health issues.  The of course there is also the age-old problems of smoke-smelling clothing and the nastiness of yellowing teeth caused from smoking.  Since vaping is tar- and tobacco-free, these embarrassing issues are also greatly diminished by switching to vaping. 

Related Article:  The second-hand vape debate: E-cig vapor is 99% less carcinogenic than cigarette smoke

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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