Vaping electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) was associated with an increase of untreated caries, according to research published on July 14 in the Journal of the American Dental Association. While the study couldn't establish causality, the findings suggest vaping may be a major risk factor for caries.
The study, led by Dr. Abhilash Vemulapalli from Westend Dental Clinic in Ontario, Canada, examined the association between vaping and untreated caries at a population level. The finding is timely as more people, particularly young people, are using e-cigarette and vaping products.
The study included data from 4,618 people who participated in the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The researchers investigated untreated caries using oral health examination data to assess the association between untreated caries and smoking, including cigarette smoking, vaping, and both.
People who currently vaped e-cigarettes and dual smokers who used both e-cigarettes and conventional smoking methods were more likely to have untreated caries than those who had never smoked. These findings held true even after the authors adjusted for socioeconomic status, suggesting that e-cigarettes may be a caries risk factor.
Vaping status should be included as a part of health history questionnaires for patients, the researchers noted. Dental professionals should also be informed of the potential oral health implications of vaping and share this knowledge with patients.
"The findings of this study support the hypothesis that people who smoke e-cigarettes are at a higher risk of having untreated caries," the authors wrote. "Therefore, dentists should ask patients whether they smoke e-cigarettes and inform them of the harmful effects of e-cigarettes on oral and systemic health."