Oral Effects of Smoking and Vaping

What is the harm in Vaping?

Is vaping the new smoking? Or is it safer? This has been an area of increasing research, as the use of e-cigarettes is reasonably new, the effect of their use is still being discovered. Join us in this blog to find out what effects smoking and vaping have on your mouth (and general health), if you should be worried about your vaping habit or the effects of passive vaping, and what you can do to quit.  


We’ve been told for years about the dangers of smoking. Many people know about the links with lung and heart disease, but what about your mouth? 

Oral Effects of Tobacco Smoking: 

  • Increased risk of severe gum disease which can lead to tooth loss  
  • Those who smoke are more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers.
  • There is a greater risk of mouth cancer  
  • Dental implants are more likely to fail in smokers 
  • Dry mouth (which in turn can lead to an increase in tooth decay and gum disease) 
  • Bad breath 
  • Bad taste 


Around 2006, e-cigarettes became commercially available and their use has been increasing ever since. According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey in 2019, 11% of the population aged over 14 years have used e-cigarettes. The primary motivation for use of e-cigarettes is to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, but there is an increasing group that have never smoked before that are vaping. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concerns that starting with vaping can be the gateway into smoking traditional cigarettes. This is because vaping can lead to a dependence on nicotine. This is why there is such a concern around vaping in young people.  

Passive Vaping

Although vaping does not produce smoke like conventional cigarettes, it does produce an aerosol. This aerosol can be inhaled by bystanders, and it can contain potentially carcinogenic chemicals such as metals, propylene glycol, and formaldehyde. Although there is limited evidence on the effects of passive vaping, the WHO has advised that it can be harmful. 

Oral Effects

Oral effects of e-cigarette use: 

  • Dry mouth (which in turn can lead to an increase in decay and gum disease) 
  • Burning sensations 
  • Irritation of the lining of the mouth 
  • Bad taste 
  • Bad breath 
  • Pain 
  • Oral mucosal lesions (changes in the lining of the mouth) 
  • Black tongue 
  • Burns 

Cancer Risk

The WHO has listed propylene glycol as a carcinogen. There is also concern that the heat from e-cigarettes can increase the risk from this chemical. In addition, e-cigarettes can interact with the tobacco carcinogens of regular smoking and cause a greater risk of cancer in people who use both traditional and e-cigarettes. However, one study found that the oral mucosa (lining of the mouth) in e-cigarette users was more like non-smokers than smokers. They concluded that oral cancer risk was higher in the traditional tobacco smokers than for those smoking e-cigarettes, but that those who didn’t smoke at all had the lowest risk.  

Gum Disease and Decay

One study found that e-cigarette users were twice as likely than non-smokers to have deteriorating gum health. This includes an increase in plaque, bone loss (of the bony support for the teeth) and inflammatory markers. There is also a risk of implant complications in those who use e-cigarettes. 

E-cigarette users were found to have an increased decay rate than non-users. 

Other Health Risks

The presence of nicotine in e-cigarettes increases the risk of heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer. It is also associated with lung injuries, and even death.  

There have also been incidences of e-cigarettes causing burns and even exploding in people’s mouths. 

Is it safe to use e-cigarettes than normal cigarettes?

No. There is no evidence to say that they are safe.

What the evidence does point to is that they are either the same, or slightly less damaging than conventional cigarettes, but they have much more adverse outcomes than not smoking. 


There are benefits to giving up smoking at any age. The below table is from www.icanquit.com.au which is a fabulous resource to help you get started. 

Top tips if you want to quit:

  1. Get help from your GP 
  1. Check out www.icanquit.com.au 
  1. Check out QuitHQ 

If you would like to read further. 

Which toothpaste should I use?

Which toothpaste should I use?

Confused about the vast amount of toothpastes on offer? Or think that they are all the same and it doesn't matter what...