How Can a Dentist Tell if You Vape? Will Hiding It Help Your Health?

A bearded male dressed in a grey shirt, sunglasses and baseball cap vaping with smoke in the background

A common myth in recent times is that vaping is entirely harmless. Many young people now vape since it is said to be much better than smoking. However, you may wonder about the effects of vaping on your dental health and whether your dentist can tell if you vape.

Your dentist can tell if you vape by looking at the stains on your teeth. A frequent vaper will also have a dry mouth, which is another telltale sign—hiding that you vape from your dentist will not help your oral health.

While there are differences between vaping and smoking, some similarities between them can give you away to your dentist. Keep reading to explore how your dentist can tell if you frequently vape and the effects vaping has on your health.

Telltale Signs of Vaping

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Your oral health is significantly impacted by vaping. The vapor used in vaping doesn’t contain tobacco. However, the nicotine presents some telltale signs easily recognizable by your dentist. There are certain signs dentists look out for when they want to confirm if you’re vaping, such as the following:

  • Yellow/Brown Staining: When nicotine mixes with saliva, it creates yellow and brown stains on your teeth. These stains are hard to remove. Continuing to vape will only increase the staining and make eventual whitening difficult. 
  • Dry Mouth: Nicotine reduces saliva flow in your mouth. One of its constituents, propylene glycol, also absorbs part of the moisture in your mouth. These effects dry your tooth surfaces and soft tissue, eventually leading to plaque and tooth decay.
  • Palate Stomatitis: Vaping can cause the lining of your mouth to become inflamed, leading to sores and lesions. It’s  a sign of vaping and is easily detectable by a dentist.
  • Receding Gums: Nicotine could also reduce blood flow to the gums. It prevents the blood from delivering sufficient amounts of oxygen and nutrients for the gums to stay healthy. Eventually, the problem could lead to a gum recession.
  • Tooth Decay: Vape aerosols are sometimes flavored, containing similar chemical makeup to sweets and sugary drinks like soda. Vaping could increase the bacteria population in the mouth, causing cavities and tooth decay. You can’t hide these problems from your dentist.
  • Bruxism: Nicotine can act as a muscle stimulant, causing you to clench and grind your teeth. It’s  known as bruxism and can happen while you’re awake or asleep. Effects of bruxism that your dentist can notice include broken and damaged teeth.
  • Gingivitis: Vaping causes gum diseases like gingivitis. Symptoms of these include bad breath and bleeding gums.
  • Oral Thrush: Vaping increases the population of Candida albicans, a fungus known to cause thrush.

With these many signs, it will be easy for your dentist to know if you use e-cigarettes.

Will Hiding Your Vaping From Your Dentist Help Your Health?

Hiding your vaping from your dentist will not help your health and is only detrimental to your oral health. It may lead to a misdiagnosis from the telltale symptoms while leaving the actual side effects to fester.

Vaping has many effects on your gums, teeth, and mouth. These effects include:

  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Cavities
  • Tooth decay
  • Sores 
  • Lesions

These symptoms can be caused by other factors and may require different treatments for each factor. Your dentist can also recommend certain practices to help protect your teeth and gums from the adverse effects of vaping, but that is only possible if you let them know.

Vaping Can Negatively Affect Oral Health

Vaping arose as an alternative to smoking. Smoking is quite dangerous, but the smoke from vaping also contains about 7000 chemicals, with over 70 of those being able to cause cancer.

Many smokers have tried to stop smoking, as it affects most of the vital organs in the body. So, some vape instead to ease their transition to total abstinence.  

Although vaping may pose fewer health risks, it still involves nicotine delivery into your body. This delivery has negative effects on your gums, teeth, and oral health in general. 

These effects include:

  • Excess Bacteria: Smoking e-cigarettes involves the use of aerosols for nicotine delivery. It causes excess bacteria to accumulate in the crevices of your teeth, causing decay and gum diseases.
  • Inflammatory Responses: Vaping causes inflammation in your gums. These inflammations can also cause periodontal diseases.
  • Cell Death: A review has shown that aerosols from vaping can cause DNA damage, resulting in cell growth, faster cell aging, and cell death.
  • Enamel Damage: Propylene Glycol (commonly known as PG) is a major ingredient of vape juice. It has a transparent color and faint sweet taste, which is why it is used as an ingredient for vaping juices.

When used orally, Propylene Glycol degrades into an acid that damages your enamel. Vape juice also contains propionaldehyde which acts as an irritant when in contact with soft tissue. 

Vaping Is Not Good for Your Body

Vaping involves heating a liquid into vapor without changing the chemical composition. Then the vaporized product is inhaled through an electronic vaporizer known in some circles as an e-cigarette, giving a feeling similar to smoking.

Although there are similarities between smoking and vaping involving nicotine use, there are also major differences. Smoking delivers nicotine into your lungs by tobacco combustion, while vaping heats the liquid before delivery.

In smoking, the amount of nicotine in a cigarette is fixed, but this isn’t the case with vaping. The amount of nicotine depends on the strength of the e-liquid you use and how much you vape. 

There has been extensive research on smoking, confirming its numerous health dangers. However, vaping isn’t entirely harmless, either. Though the long-term impacts are considered to be less than smoking, there are still negative effects.

These disadvantages include:

  • Lung damage
  • A weakened immune system
  • Delay in brain development in fetuses
  • Developmental delays in young children.

Both smoking and vaping are addictive, but a study conducted in 2019 has shown that e-cigarettes containing nicotine have a higher potential for addiction among young people.

How To Prevent Gum and Tooth Damage From Vaping

The first thing to note is that vaping isn’t good for your teeth, so the best option would be to cut it out entirely. If that’s not an option for you, there are other ways to minimize the side effects of vaping, as follows:

  • Avoid sugar-free e-liquids. Sugar has a lot of negative impacts on your oral health, so it’s best to avoid e-liquids that contain a lot of sugar.
  • Opt for nicotine-free vaping. The first and one of the most important steps should be minimizing your nicotine intake. Vaping juices with low nicotine or that are nicotine-free can help reduce its effects on your oral health.
  • Drink water while vaping and after you’re done. That’s because vaping makes you dehydrated. Doing so prevents you from having a dry mouth and bad breath.
  • Brush regularly. Vaping causes plaque and cavities. Brushing regularly with good fluoride toothpaste and regularly flossing may reduce these issues and improve oral health.
  • Visit the dentist. You should see the dentist every six months for consultations. Maintaining regular dentist consultations will aid the detection and treatment of any oral conditions that result from vaping.


Vaping might not be as dangerous as smoking, but it still has several negative impacts. Though seen by many as a safe alternative to smoking, you would do well to ignore misconceptions that vaping is wholly safe.

If you do vape, make sure you maintain proper oral hygiene. Also, ensure your dentist is fully aware because hiding it could be detrimental.

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