Vaping alters the bacteria in the mouth, making e-cigarette 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.
"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," said senior author Professor Xin Li, of the NYU College of Dentistry.
Professor Deepak Saxena added: "The oral microbiome is of interest 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 conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers."
In the study, published in iScience, 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 (72.5pc), followed by e-cigarette users (42.5pc) and non-smokers (28.2pc).
The researchers found different micro-organisms 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 added: "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."