Vaping may raise risk of oral infections by altering the microbiome in the mouth, study suggests

Vaping could alter the mouth’s microbiome and raise the risk of oral infections, a new study suggests.

Researchers found e-cigarette users were at 1.5 times greater risks of gum disease or infection that non-smokers.

What’s more, vapers had higher levels of bacteria implicated in oral diseases as well as biomarkers in their blood that indicate inflammation, which, in turn, can damage all manner of tissues and raise risks for chronic diseases. 

‘The technical message [of our study] is just don’t vape,’ co-senior author Dr Xin Li, an associate professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at New York University College of Dentistry, told

‘From the data, we can clearly see e-cigarettes change the microbiome and this is associated with bad oral health, periodontal disease and inflammation, which can affect the whole body.’ 

A new study from NYU College of Dentistry has found that more than 42 percent of e-cigarette users had gum infection or disease compared to 28 percent of non-smokers (file image)

Proponents of e-cigarettes have touted them as less-harmful alternatives to traditional cigarettes, but no research exists to back these claims.

Rates of vaping have increased in recent years, particularly among high schoolers, with 27.5 percent of teens saying they vaped in 2019, up from 20.8 percent in 2018.

Dr Lin and her co-senior author Dr Deepak Saxena, also a professor of basic science and craniofacial biology, both had sons in middle school in the early 2010s and were worried they could become hooked on vaping.

‘We were concerned and [e-cigarettes] were very close to our school,’ said Dr Lin.

‘You can easily get e-cigarettes at the corner store. They were advertising without any information [about the risks].’ 

While it is well established that smoking traditional cigarettes raises the risk of gum disease and infection by changing the oral microbiome, few studies have examined whether or not e-cigarettes cause similar changes.  

For the new study, published in iScience, a Cell Press journal, the team performed oral exams on – and got saliva samples from – 119 participants.

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