Smoking is not only harmful to your health but also to your teeth. This means that if you are a smoker, you are at a high risk of getting discolored or stained teeth. Fortunately, there are numerous ways for smokers to get rid of these stains through teeth whitening.
But, How to whiten smokers teeth? Is teeth whitening for smokers the same as for other people? How do you go about it?
This article comprehensively covers this topic by examining:
- The concept of tooth discoloration in smokers;
- The impact of smoking on oral health;
- How to whiten teeth for smokers.
Understanding Teeth Discoloration in Smokers
Smoking is a habit that takes a toll on various aspects of health, and its impact on oral hygiene is particularly significant. One of the most visible consequences is teeth discoloration. The culprits behind the yellow or brown stains on smokers’ teeth are the tar and nicotine found in tobacco products.
Here’s a quick overview of the main causes of stains on teeth when smoking:
Does nicotine stain your teeth even though it is a colorless substance? Yes, it does. When exposed to oxygen, it undergoes a chemical transformation and turns yellow over time. This yellowing effect is exacerbated when combined with other substances present in tobacco smoke.
Moreover, nicotine has a high affinity for tooth enamel, which is the hard, protective outer layer of the teeth. As you inhale, the nicotine-laden smoke comes into direct contact with the enamel, leading to the deposition of yellow stains.
Tar is a byproduct of the combustion of tobacco. It is a sticky substance that adheres to surfaces, including teeth. Over time, tar builds up on the enamel, creating a stubborn and discolored film.
It would also be prudent to note that the tooth enamel is porous, and tar has a knack for seeping into these microscopic pores. This absorption not only discolors the enamel but can also contribute to the development of more serious oral health issues.
Heat and smoke
The heat generated by smoking can also play a role in staining teeth when smoking. The increased temperature can cause the expansion of the tooth enamel, making it more susceptible to the absorption of staining compounds.
Furthermore, the fine particles in tobacco smoke can settle on the teeth, contributing to overall discoloration. These particles may be tiny, but their cumulative effect can result in noticeable stains.
Poor oral hygiene
If you do not follow a strict oral hygiene regimen if you are a smoker, you may be more prone to getting your teeth stained. This is because the stains may not be effectively removed when they settle on the teeth, allowing stains to set in and plaque to accumulate more readily, and ultimately impacting the color in the long run.
Health Impacts of Smoking on Oral Hygiene
Smoking is a habit known for its detrimental effects on overall health, and its repercussions extend far beyond the visible staining of teeth. The impact on oral hygiene has a range of concerns that can compromise not only the aesthetic appeal of one’s smile but also the health of the entire oral cavity.
Here is a brief insight into the impact of smoking on oral health:
Smoking is a significant risk factor for gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis. The chemicals in tobacco smoke weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infections, including those in the gums.
Reduced blood flow
Nicotine is known to constrict blood vessels. This constriction limits blood flow to the gums and other oral tissues, impeding the delivery of essential nutrients and oxygen. Reduced blood flow compromises the ability of the gums to heal and regenerate.
Smoking hinders the body’s natural healing processes. Following dental procedures such as extractions or oral surgeries, smokers may experience delayed healing and an increased risk of postoperative complications.
Increased risk of oral cancer
Tobacco smoke contains numerous carcinogens, increasing the risk of oral cancer. Smokers are more prone to developing cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. Early detection is challenging, and the prognosis is often less favorable compared to non-smokers.
Smoking can lead to a dry mouth by reducing saliva production. Saliva is crucial for neutralizing acids, remineralizing teeth, and washing away debris. A dry mouth environment creates conditions conducive to tooth decay and cavities.
Altered microbial environment
Smoking can alter the composition of the oral microbiome, favoring the growth of harmful bacteria. This shift contributes to the development of dental plaque and increases the risk of cavities and gum disease.
Complications for orthodontic treatments
Besides increasing the risk for delayed healing, smoking has also been associated with complications for orthodontic treatments, as it delays tooth movement during orthodontic treatments. This can extend the duration of orthodontic interventions and increase the risk of complications.
Teeth Whitening Options for Smokers
If you are a smoker in the pursuit of a whiter, brighter smile, it may seem like it is a challenging endeavor at first, given the persistent staining caused by nicotine and other compounds in tobacco smoke.
However, despite the unique challenges, teeth whitening for smokers can be a good solution. Here are some of the best teeth whitening methods for smokers to consider:
This is the most advisable teeth whitening path to undertake if looking for teeth whitening for smokers. This is the best teeth whitening for smokers as the method involves a highly concentrated bleaching agent applied to the teeth, often accelerated by a special LED whitening light or laser.
The process is supervised by dental professionals, ensuring safety and effectiveness.
In-office whitening is considered the best, as it offers the quickest and most noticeable results. Furthermore, it is performed in a controlled environment and with professional supervision to minimize the risk of side effects.
Using custom trays is also a good consideration for a smoker's teeth whitening. You can get custom trays from reputable companies online or from your dentist.
These trays are personalized to fit over your teeth, and are filled with a whitening gel and worn for a specified period. This solution offers a balance between effectiveness and convenience but requires a commitment to regular use.
Furthermore, the results may take several weeks to become apparent.
Whitening strips are thin, flexible strips coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. They are applied directly to the teeth and left in place for a designated period. You can easily buy the best whitening strips from a reputable brand or simply get them over the counter.
They do not contain concentrated levels of the whitening agent, so they may not be the best solution if you have distinctively stained teeth.
Whitening toothpaste is another mildly concentrated whitening solution. It contains abrasive particles and mild bleaching agents to remove surface stains and can be used as part of a regular oral hygiene routine.
This method is generally less expensive than other options, but the effectiveness may be limited for deeply embedded stains.
When choosing the safest whitening methods for smokers, the severity of staining and individual preferences come into play. However, it would be prudent to note that in-dentist professional whitening stands out as the optimal choice for smokers.
Nevertheless, it’s essential to consult a dental professional to determine the most suitable approach based on individual needs, budget considerations, and desired outcomes.
How Long Does Teeth Whitening For Smokers Take?
On average, the teeth whitening process for smokers can take longer than for other people due to the presence of tobacco stains.
Here’s a quick summary of how long you may expect the treatment to show results”:
|At-Home Gel Trays
If you want to make the treatment last longer, smoking after teeth whitening is not recommended, that’s why the duration of the treatment is shorter than usual. Smoking after tooth whitening can reduce the effectiveness of the whitening treatment, as the act of smoking produces (again) all those stains in your teeth and makes your smile look yellowish.
Ideally, it is advisable to avoid smoking after teeth whitening. Smoking introduces tar, nicotine, and other chemicals that can counteract the whitening effects and contribute to further staining.
It is strongly recommended to refrain from smoking while using whitening strips. Smoking introduces additional staining agents that can interfere with the whitening process. The chemicals in tobacco can counteract the active ingredients in the whitening strips, reducing their efficacy. For optimal results, it's best to avoid smoking during the application of whitening strips.
Yes, teeth can get noticeably whiter after quitting smoking. The stains caused by nicotine and tar tend to fade over time, and the natural color of the teeth becomes more apparent. Moreover, when you quit smoking, it allows the oral environment to improve, leading to a reduction in plaque and a decrease in the risk of gum disease.