Researchers have found that vaping e-cigarettes may change the composition of the mouth’s microbiome, something that leads to higher risks of inflammation, gum disease and infection.
Xin Li, co-senior author of the study and associate professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at New York University’s College of Dentistry said, "Given the popularity of vaping, it is critical that we learn more about the effects of e-cigarette aerosols on the oral microbiome and host inflammatory responses in order to better understand the impact of vaping on human health.”
For their study, the researchers examined the oral microbiomes of 119 people via oral exams and saliva samples. Their cohort included people who regularly use e-cigarettes, cigarette smokers and people who had never smoked before.
Although the researchers found that cigarette smokers had the highest rate of gum disease and infection among the participants, at 72.5%, they found that those who smoked e-cigarettes experienced gum disease or infection 42.5% of the time, whereas for non-smokers, the same figure was just 28.2%.
Looking at saliva samples however via a technique known as 16D rRNA high throughput sequencing, the researchers found that e-cigarette users had a significantly higher abundance of bacteria P. gingivalis, a known trigger of gum disease, than both cigarette smokers and no-smokers. Moreover, they found that e-cigarette users also had higher levels of cytokines interleukin-6 and interleukin-1β, substances known to induce inflammation, than the other groups.
Co-senior author of the study, Deepak Saxena, said, “Our study suggests that vaping electronic cigarettes causes shifts in the oral environment and highly influences the colonization of complex microbial biofilms, which raises the risk for oral inflammation and infection.”
As vaping seems to cause inflammation in the mouth, the researchers say that it may also cause inflammation elsewhere in the body too- particularly in the respiratory tract. Beyond this, as gum disease caused by poor oral health has been linked to other systemic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s, it may just be a matter of time before studies begin to link a vaping habit with these diseases too.