The effect of vaping on the oral microbiome is not fully understood, but emerging research suggests a link between vaping and an increased prevalence of certain microbial species, such as Candida albicans and proteobacteria. In line with this, the cross-sectional comparative study “EBD spotlight: The impact of vaping on the oral microbiome” aimed to compare the oral microbiome of vapers and non-vapers.

Using saliva samples and exhaled breath condensate, the study used a cross-sectional comparative design to detect second hand vapour exposure in children, by focusing on parents who vaped daily around children. The primary outcome was changes in the oral microbiome influenced by e-cigarette use, with participants divided into groups based on their vaping status, and further sub-divided into exclusive vapers and dual users. Oral microbiome samples were collected from various sites.

The participants consisted of 36 adults, 18 of which were vapers and 18 non vapers, and 55.6% being dual users. While the researchers found no significant differences in microbiome diversity between vapers and non-vapers, a statistical test revealed that vapers had a significantly higher relative abundance of the species of Veillonella compared to non-vapers.

Interestingly, dual users had more diverse bacteria species in their mouths compared to those who vaped only, suggesting that using both smoking and vaping may affect certain types of bacteria in the mouth. To this effect, the study concluded that while there is an association between vaping and variations in the oral microbiome, dual use especially, may influence the composition and diversity of the oral microbiome.

Ongoing global study looks into the impact of ENDS on oral health

Launched on February 26th, 2024, this trial will be assessing changes in oral health and dental aesthetics among over 400 smokers transitioning from traditional tobacco cigarettes to the safer alternatives.
Meanwhile, the SMILE Study, a ground-breaking global health initiative led by CoEHAR (The Center of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction) researchers, aims to investigate the oral health impacts of combustion-free nicotine delivery products, focusing on vapes and heated tobacco products (HTPs). Launched on February 26th, 2024, this trial will be assessing changes in oral health and dental aesthetics among over 400 smokers transitioning from traditional tobacco cigarettes to the safer alternatives.

This study aims to fill the gap in knowledge about combustion-free nicotine products by evaluating whether switching from smoking, to using safer nicotinep’ij alternatives leads to improvements in gingival health, dental plaque accumulation, enamel discoloration, and tooth staining. Participants include current smokers, individuals switching to combustion-free products, and non-smokers, allowing for comprehensive comparisons.

Experts from Germany, the UK, Italy, Poland, Moldova, and Indonesia have contributed to the study’s design, and it is being conducted in dental clinics across four countries: Italy, Poland, Moldova, and Indonesia. Volunteer enrolment was completed in August 2023, with results expected in 2025. Study co-author Professor Riccardo Polosa told Vaping Post that everything is on track. “The SMILE study is nearing completion (last subject out in Nov 2024).”

The primary objective is to compare the percentage mean change in the Modified Gingival Index (MGI) score between baseline and the 18-month follow-up among the study groups. Secondary outcomes will examine variations in tooth staining, dental discoloration, plaque scores, and quality of life assessments related to oral health.

Professor Eugenio Pedullà, project leader of the SMILE Study, emphasizes the study’s potential to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the benefits and/or risks associated with combustion-free nicotine alternatives. The study employs standardized training protocols and innovative technologies, such as digital spectrophotometry and Quantitative Light-induced Fluorescence (QLF), to ensure high-quality scientific research across different countries.

While Professor Iain Chapple from the University of Birmingham highlights the study’s use of cutting-edge technology to establish high-quality standards in dental research. This advancement aims to bolster confidence in the applicability of the research to clinical and regulatory contexts, particularly concerning combustion-free nicotine products and smoking cessation aids.

Data from the SMILE Study will provide key insights into the benefits and risks of long-term use of nicotine alternatives, with significant implications for reducing the global smoking burden. For smokers concerned about bad breath and dental aesthetics, an oral-centric narrative may be a compelling reason to quit smoking, potentially outweighing fears of lung cancer or cardiopulmonary diseases.

Professor Polosa, Founder of CoEHAR, underscores the support from major health organizations in the UK for ENDS and the lack of evidence linking these products to tooth decay or gum disease. To this effect, the SMILE Study aims to dispel myths about vaping and oral health, significantly contributing to smoking cessation efforts globally by engaging dental clinics and offices worldwide.

The effect of smoking vs vaping on teeth colour

The Professor also shared with Vaping Post a recent “exciting oral health study” which focused on the effects of vapes and HTPs on dental colour. The study, “E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products impact on dental color parameters” used a cross-sectional design to assess and compare dental color parameters using digital spectrophotometry. Participants were divided into five groups: current smokers, former smokers who quit, individuals who never smoked, exclusive users of electronic cigarettes (former smokers), and exclusive users of heated tobacco products (former smokers).

The study found that the teeth of current smokers were significantly more discoloured compared to the teeth of those who never smoked or quit smoking, with Whiteness Index for Dentistry (WID) scores of 13.38 versus 19.96 and 16.79, respectively. Users of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products also showed high WID values, indicating whiter teeth, with scores of 16.72 and 17.82, respectively. The difference in dental whiteness between current smokers and users of vapes or heated tobacco products was visually noticeable, with a WID difference averaging more than 2.90 units. Interestingly, all measured colour differences, were visually detectable except between ex-smokers and vapers, which showed no perceptible colour difference.

The Effects of Vaping on Oral Health.. What Does Science Tell Us?

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