Vaping alters the bacteria in the mouth, making e-cigarettes users more prone to inflammation and infection than non-smokers, new research suggests.
Researchers say their study is the first to demonstrate vaping changes the oral microbiome – the community of bacteria and other micro-organisms, adding to the limited understanding of the safety of e-cigarettes.
While it is widely known that traditional tobacco cigarettes increase the risk of gum disease and infection, little is known about the impact of e-cigarettes.
Senior author Xin Li, associate professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at NYU 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.”
Deepak Saxena, professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at the university, added: “The oral microbiome is of interest to us because research shows that changes in its microbial community as a result of environmental and host factors contribute to a range of health issues, including cavities, gum disease, halitosis, and medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers.”
In the study published in iScience, a Cell Press journal, researchers examined e-cigarette vapour and its influence on the oral microbiome and immune health.
Through oral exams and saliva samples, scientists studied the oral microbiome of 119 people from three groups – e-cigarette users, regular cigarette smokers, and those who had never smoked.
Gum disease or infection was significantly higher among cigarette smokers (72.5%), followed by e-cigarette users (42.5%) and non-smokers (28.2%).
Using a technique used to profile microbial communities, the researchers found different microorganisms in the saliva of the three groups.
“The predominance of these periodontal pathogens in the mouths of e-cigarette users and traditional smokers is a reflection of compromised periodontal health,” said Prof Li.
Prof Saxena concluded: “Our study suggests that vaping electronic cigarettes causes shifts in the oral environment and highly influences the colonisation of complex microbial biofilms, which raises the risk for oral inflammation and infection.”