Do I Need to Brush My Teeth After Vaping?

You could, but you’re kinda screwed either way.

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There you are, ending the day with your usual bedtime routine. You slip into your house pants, brush your teeth and scroll through social media for an uncertain amount of time. An undeniable wave of fatigue crashes over your brain as you conclude your nocturnal regimen with several hearty vape hits. Your lungs expand with vapor, your anxiety disintegrates like the wispy clouds departing from your lips and you finally feel your mind begin to float toward the dream world.

Ahh, life is good.

But suddenly, a classic late-night thought strikes your cerebrum: Like, should I brush my teeth again, since my mouth feels kinda weird after that profoundly spiritual vape session?

The simple answer is, sure. But analyzing the current research will almost certainly help you decide whether leaving the comfort of your bed for a post-vape brushing is actually worth that extra effort.

For starters, we know that brushing your teeth after smoking tobacco is a good idea. Studies show that nicotine and other chemicals in regular cigarettes impairs blood flow toward the gums, which can contribute to the development of infections, periodontal disease and even tooth loss. Essentially, smoking tobacco prevents the mouth from protecting itself, which results in a buildup of bacteria that can lead to excess plaque and tartar.

For cigarette smokers, this is an inevitability no matter how often they brush, but removing those chemicals directly after smoking can help prevent them — and the germs they support — from lingering on the teeth and causing even more damage. Of course, brushing can also help remove any nauseating tobacco breath.

Now, back to vaping. New studies show that teeth exposed to the aerosol in many e-cigarettes generally harbor more bacteria, which can obviously cause tooth decay and gum disease. Furthermore, some vape liquids, especially those that contain propylene glycol, cause cottonmouth, which interferes with saliva production, preventing the mouth from washing away harmful bacteria and food particles. Finally, some vape pods contain tons of nicotine, which again, promotes unhealthy gums, and therefore, a generally unhealthy mouth.

Interestingly enough, some studies suggest that vaping poses fewer oral health risks than smoking cigarettes, whereas others show that vaping is actually worse. Whatever the case, a post-vape brushing seems in order to at least help wash away any chemicals and extra bacteria that those chemicals promote.

As for whether brushing after vaping is absolutely necessary, the honest answer is that blowing clouds will hurt your mouth no matter how often you brush. Plus, brushing too much — say, more than four times a day — can actually harm your teeth and gums more than help. So realistically, while occasionally brushing away any extra nastiness caused by smoking or vaping is probably a good idea, simply drinking some water to counter that troublesome cottonmouth is also helpful.

Alternatively, you could just quit vaping and hope life is still worth living.