Perhaps you were of a generation where smoking just wasn’t that big a deal, or maybe it was a nasty habit you picked up a teen that you’re only just starting to shake.
Either way, you’re obviously well aware of the usual health spiel and why smoking is bad for you. After all, that’s why you’re quitting right?
What usually ranks lower on the list of numbers smoking does on you is the chaos it causes in your mouth; the halitosis, the loss of taste, the brown teeth that never look clean.
If you’ve already quite smoking and you’re starting to feel a bit better in the mornings, maybe you’re also starting to wonder if your teeth will be yellow forever- or if there’s anything you can do about it.
In this article, we look at all the facts about life- and teeth- after smoking, and what the future holds.
Why Is Smoking Bad For Your Teeth?
Tobacco reduces the oxygen levels in your blood, as well as the amount of blood which gets pumped around your body- including to the gums.
With lower blood flow comes gum disease, infections in the mouth, regular occurrences of ulcer and sores on the gums and tongue.
Plaque and tartar build up much faster on the teeth, which lead to cavities and decay, and chronic halitosis is a common reported side effect.
Tobacco products also vastly increase your chances of developing mouth or throat cancers- essentially every aspect of the health of your mouth suffers at the hands of smoking.
Visually, this change in your mouth is represented by a particularly unpleasant yellowing, or even browning, of your teeth- as the tar and nicotine present in the tobacco stain the enamel. Unfortunately, this is usually permanent.
Can Smoking Cause Tooth Loss?
With your increased risks of gum disease and tooth decay comes an increased risk of tooth loss, and the more that you smoke, the higher that risk becomes.
It begins with mild symptoms- your oxygen deprived pale gums will suddenly appear red or swell up, followed by bleeding.
As the filth in your mouth builds up so does bacteria, leading to bad breath and a bad taste that can’t be washed out. Developing under your teeth may be abscesses of a serious infection.
If you are beginning to notice any of these symptoms, it’s important that you check-in with your dentist immediately. They’ll immediately put you to taks for not taking better care of your mouth.
Brushing with fluoride toothpaste after every meal, interdental sticks, dental floss, and more appointments with your dentist will all need to become part of your daily life if you want to keep your teeth.
Most importantly, if you’re still smoking, the best thing you can do for your mouth (and yourself) is quit.
What Happens To Your Teeth After You Quit Smoking?
Quitting smoking will quickly begin to improve your dental hygiene- particularly for your gums.
You will drastically lower your chances of developing gum disease; and with a good routine of dental hygiene will come a massive positive difference to the health of your mouth.
However, that stained yellow coloring may well be there forever. The only way you’re going to get around that is through cosmetic means, which we will explore below.
How Can I Fix My Teeth After Smoking?
After you have quit smoking and have decided that you want to restore the condition of your mouth, the first thing you should do before you look at the color of your teeth is make a booking with your dentist to assess your oral hygiene, as soon as possible.
Smokers are high-risk for gum disease, and even if the symptoms are mild it can progress very, very rapidly. If your dentist finds gum disease, this will need to be treated to restore your gums to full health.
Begin an extensive oral hygiene routine. Use an electric toothbrush with a fluoride toothpaste to thoroughly brush all your teeth twice a day. You should brush for two minutes at a time.
Floss in between your teeth and use interdental sticks, every day if you can. Schedule an annual check-up appointment with your dentist to monitor your oral hygiene.
If you develop symptoms of gum disease, book an appointment. Gingivitis can be treated at home. Advanced gum disease requires a deep cleaning procedure, under local anesthetic.
Will My Teeth Get Whiter After I Stop Smoking?
If your teeth are yellow from smoking, this means that the enamel is stained by the tar and nicotine of the tobacco- this is usually irreversible. However, there are modern cosmetic procedures available.
The first is teeth-whitening, a simple procedure that is very common even among non-smokers. This involves applying a whitening agent to your teeth, and stimulating the process with the use of a special light or laser.
This is typically an expensive process, and the effects aren’t permanent- you’ll need to have it done again after a few years to keep the white appearance. It is also easily affected by staining substances like wine or coffee.
A professional teeth-whitening at your dentist’s is a more advanced procedure than the kits which you can purchase for home use- but if your teeth have been severely stained by your years of smoking, even this may not be enough to remove all traces.
If your problem with staining is severe, the other option is a far more complicated procedure- which is to replace your tooth enamel with dental veneers.
If the enamel of your teeth is so stained that it can’t be whitened, under a local anesthetic your discolored enamel will be shaved off and replaced with a veneer which resembles and functions as natural tooth enamel.
In the first visit of this procedure, scans will be taken of your teeth and the veneers will be prepared at a separate facility for your next appointment.
At your second appointment, the shaving occurs and the veneers are fitted to your teeth with a strong bonding adhesive.
Do Home Teeth Whiteners Work On Nicotine Stains?
If you find the pricing of the procedures on offer at your dentists to be prohibitive, there are special whitening procedures which you can do at home for personal use, available at drug stores over the counter or even off the shelves in your local grocery store.
Home teeth-whitening kits involve applying a special bleach to your teeth yourself, and can be a little risky to do.
Incorrect application can result in the burning of your gums by the chemicals involved, and can weaken the tooth enamel.
If your staining is minor, consider the benefits of whitening toothpaste. These whiten your teeth gradually and won’t cause the damage that whitening kits can.
If you are unsure about the safety or practicality of any whitening product, make sure you check in with your dentist before you do anything which could seriously damage your teeth.
Remember: when it comes to teeth, you just get the one set.