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How Cigarettes Affect Your Teeth

It’s not surprising that cigarettes affect your teeth. After all, smoking exposes you to both tobacco and nicotine, which can result in stained, yellow teeth and/or bad breath. It can also lower your immune system, put you at risk for gum disease, and contribute to oral cancer

Did you know that smoking impacts your taste buds too? The more you smoke, the more it desensitizes your sense of taste, which leads to changes in your dietary habits. What you eat and drink affects your teeth too. 

Although there are some quick fixes for discolored teeth and “smoker’s breath,” the best option is, of course, to quit smoking. If that simply feels impossible — you’re not alone! — consider the solutions below to improve your oral health.

To start, let’s look at ways to combat stained and yellow teeth caused by cigarettes.

1. Brush your teeth more often.

Brushing your teeth several times a day not only helps to improve their appearance but also protects you against gum disease. Choose a toothpaste that’s specifically designed to tackle teeth stains for people who smoke. Look for the following ingredients that help with discoloration: baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, activated charcoal, coconut oil, and/or turmeric. 

2. Consider an over-the-counter teeth whitening product.

If your discoloration is too severe for toothpaste alone, consider an over-the-counter (OTC) teeth whitening product, like Crest Whitestrips or Luminous Teeth Whitening Strips. OTC options can remove stains below the surface and positively change the appearance of your teeth. However, they’re unlikely to get your teeth completely white. 

3. Look into professional teeth whitening options.

To further remove nicotine stains from your teeth, consider an in-office teeth whitening treatment or a customized at-home teeth whitening system. Note that even professional teeth whitening won’t permanently remove stains. If you continue to smoke, you may need to repeat treatments each year. 

Moving on, many individuals who use cigarettes also struggle with “smoker’s breath.”

This problem is caused by early stages of gum disease or dry mouth as a result of decreased saliva production. Here are a few options to help improve the smell of your breath.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice per day (more if possible) and floss at once per day.
  • Increase the amount of fluids you drink in an effort to prevent dry mouth.
  • Chew sugarless gum, suck on a peppermint, and/or use an antibacterial mouthwash to further decrease dry mouth.
  • Schedule biannual cleanings with your dentist to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth.

Before we close, let’s dig into the link between smoking and gum disease.

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection on your gum line. It becomes inflamed when bacteria and tartar build-up near the gums. It is linked to smoking because people who use cigarettes tend to have more tartar on their teeth than non-smokers. The nicotine in tobacco decreases saliva production, which makes it easier for bacteria and tartar to accumulate.

Fortunately, even if you’ve smoked for years, quitting now can improve your oral health and decrease the likelihood of gum disease and tooth loss.


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