“Does vaping ruin taste buds like smoking does? But vaping isn’t as bad as smoking, is it? It’s just vapor from flavored water!”
Those are some of the questions and comments we commonly hear from patients here in our Grosse Pointe dental office, causing us to shake our heads in exasperation and then tell is like it is.
Some people have the misconception that vaping doesn’t have the same consequences as smoking, but that’s not exactly true. The effects may look and feel a little different, but vaping definitely can affect a smoker’s tongue, teeth, lips, and gums in numerous ways, and that’s just the mouth. We won’t get into the negative effects on your overall well-being, such as endangering your lungs or diminishing your ability to climb a flight of stairs without struggling to catch your breath.
The problem is that vaping is comparatively new, so researchers haven’t had enough time to thoroughly analyze its effects.
However, this what our education, expertise, and experience with smokers and vapers tells us.
Why Does Vaping Ruin Taste Buds?
Vaping results in what is known as “vaper’s tongue.”
Vaping leads to dehydration and also dries your mouth, both of which can diminish your taste buds. Smoking or vaping can also cause a stuffy nose and negatively impact your ability to smell, and being able to smell goes hand in hand with your ability to taste.
Vape juice ingredients coat the tongue, so taste buds can’t receive flavor signals since they are blocked off. Specifically, studies have shown that solvents like propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin may be the culprits.
Researchers have also found that the same effects occur for both nicotine and cannabis vapers.
Importantly, research has shown that even briefly vaping or smoking can lead to inflammation on the tongue and other areas of the mouth, and inflammation can contribute to a wide range of negative oral health issues.
One study even showed that vaping can change tissue on a molecular level. In a summary of the study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, the writers said they “observed deregulation of critically important genes and associated molecular pathways in the oral epithelium of vapers that bears both resemblances and differences with that of smokers.” Changes in cells in the body are directly linked with various types of cancer, which would apply to oral cancer for the purpose of this discussion.
Tips that Can Help Reduce the Effects of Smoker’s Tongue
Stop vaping. That’s the best advice we can give you. Vaping does ruin taste buds, at least temporarily. Once you stop vaping, your taste buds should return to normal within a week or two, although researchers are still studying the long-term consequences.
But in the meantime, you probably want to enjoy your favorite foods again, so gargling with saltwater can reduce swelling in your taste buds, clean your mouth, and awaken those flavor senses.
Maintaining healthy oral hygiene routines can help as well, as having a fresh mouth allows you to start with a clean slate.
If you have any concerns about your oral health, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Holtzman by calling our office or booking an appointment through our website.