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Vaping may increase risk for gum disease

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HealthDay News

E-cigarettes can damage more than your lungs: New research shows that only a few months of vaping might also trigger gum disease.

"Vaping is such a big assault on the oral environment, and the change happens dramatically and over a short period of time," said study senior author Dr. Purnima Kumar, a professor of periodontology at Ohio State University.

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She and her team collected plaque samples from under the gums of 123 young and healthy people who had no current signs of oral disease: 25 smokers, 25 nonsmokers, 20 e-cigarette users, 25 former smokers using e-cigarettes and 28 people who smoked cigarettes and vaped.

The samples from the daily e-cigarette users had high levels of infection-causing bacteria that put them at high risk for a range of oral health problems.

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The bacteria populations in vapers' mouths resembled those of people with periodontitis, a gum infection that can lead to tooth loss and, if untreated, is a risk factor for heart and lung disease, according to the researchers.

The bacterial threat to oral health in vapers was seen whether they used nicotine or nicotine-free products.

That suggests that the heated and pressurized liquids in e-cigarette cartridges may transform vapers' mouths into an ideal location for a dangerous combination of bacteria, the researchers said.

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Even longtime current and former cigarette smokers in the study, whose smoking would have encouraged disease-causing oral bacteria, had high-risk oral bacteria populations associated with vaping after only three to 12 months of e-cigarette use.

The findings challenge claims that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco cigarettes, Kumar noted.

"If you stop smoking and start vaping instead, you don't move back toward a healthy bacterial profile but shift up to the vaping profile," Kumar said in a university news release. "Knowing the vaping profile is pathogen-rich, you're not doing yourself any favors by using vaping to quit smoking."

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The study was published May 27 in the journal Science Advances.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on the health risks of e-cigarettes.

RELATED FDA bans products that help teens hide vaping

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