Does Vaping Make Your Teeth Yellow?
Everyone knows smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes yellows your teeth, but what causes this and does vaping make your teeth yellow too?
Many people seem to blame nicotine for yellowing teeth because even though nicotine itself is colorless, it takes on a yellow color when it is exposed to the oxygen in the air. This is unlikely to be the main cause of yellowing teeth among smokers because nicotine is also water soluble and not very likely to stick to your teeth very well.
The main cause of discolouration among smoker’s teeth is actually the tar. As tar and other chemical residue build up, it finds its way into the enamel in your teeth and eventually leads to the yellowish brown color associated with smoking.
The good news for vapers is that e-liquid does not contain tar (or many of the other thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke for that matter). Instead, e-liquids use a mixture of nicotine, propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and flavoring ingredients that together, turn into an aerosol known as ‘vapor’ when heated. There is no burning so no harmful smoke – and therefore no smoke residue. No residue means no teeth discoloration, plaque buildup, or bad breath.
A 2018 study conducted by British American Tobacco found that teeth that were exposed to cigarette smoke over a period of 2 weeks became quite discolored, as you might expect. However, the teeth they exposed to e-cigarette vapor (or vapor from their heat-not-burn device “Go”) for 2 weeks were almost indistinguishable from teeth which were not exposed to anything at all.
As I’ve said in many other articles, vaping is still in it’s infancy (as is electronic nicotine delivery) and more study is needed to provide enough information to safely claim anything, even that vaping doesn’t yellow teeth. There are a few ways that nicotine itself might indirectly lead to yellowing teeth such as by reducing saliva production, but this appears to either play a very minor role if it has any effect at all in the yellowing of smoker’s teeth. It’s doubtful that nicotine on it’s own will cause yellowing, but not enough is known about it to say for sure.
Anecdotal evidence from vapers appears to support this, with many long term vapers noting reduced yellowing following extended periods of time not smoking (and vaping instead).
For further reading, check out this 2016 study on the effects vaping has on oral health compared to smoking entitled “Crosstalk between oral and general health status in e-smokers” which showed the various potential oral health benefits of switching to vaping.
Original publication date: Feb 14, 2018
Last updated on: Oct 1st 2018