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Smoking and Tooth Stains: How to Restore the Brightness of Your Smile

By Eugene D. Stanislaus on August 28, 2014


A woman with bright, white teeth, smiling Though it comes as no surprise that smoking is bad for overall health, many smokers may not be aware of the negative effects tobacco use has on oral health. Smokers are more likely to suffer from gum disease, tooth decay, halitosis, tooth loss, oral cancer, and tooth discoloration. Quitting smoking is the only way to reduce the risk of developing tobacco related oral and overall health problems, but this won't reverse dental discoloration. Teeth whitening treatment is effective at removing built-up stains to restore a bright, white smile. Read this overview from Brooklyn Heights Dental to learn more about smoking and dental stains.

Why Does Smoking Cause Dental Stains?

Habitual smoking leads to the yellowing of the teeth, and some people even develop a brown tinge to their teeth. Nicotine and tar are the main culprits for dental discoloration from smoking. When nicotine combines with oxygen, it causes yellowing, and tar results in brownish stains. Staining occurs when nicotine and tar infiltrate the tooth's enamel.

Tips to Prevent Smoking Stains

Smoking will continue to stain the teeth as long as you continue to smoke, so the best way to prevent tobacco stains is to quit smoking. If you undergo whitening treatment but don't quit smoking, tobacco stains will return. You can help prevent smoking stains by following these tips:

  • Practice proper oral hygiene: Practicing proper oral hygiene is vital to oral health, regardless of smoking or not. Brushing twice a day for a full two minutes each, along with flossing at least once a day, is especially important if you smoke. Smoking leaves residue on the teeth, which, if not brushed or flossed away, can increase the risk of decay, gum disease, and staining.
  • Brush after tobacco use: Brushing immediately after smoking can help remove nicotine and tar from the teeth, the main causes for discoloration.
  • If unable to brush after smoking, rinse the mouth with water: Though not as effective as brushing, rinsing with water after smoking can remove smoking residue from the teeth and reduce the risk of staining.
  • Don't skip regular check-ups and cleanings: Regular dental check-ups are important to every oral health routine, but should never be skipped by smokers. Smokers are at a higher risk for dental problems, so regular check-ups can help catch problems at the earliest stages, as well as keep the teeth clean. 

Restoring the Brightness of Stained Teeth

Smoking stains can be a source of embarrassment and are typically difficult to remove with at-home whitening treatments. Fortunately, professional teeth whitening treatments are very effective at lifting old tobacco stains. For those with severe staining, professional teeth whitening may not be able restore the teeth to the desired brightness. In such cases, porcelain veneers treatment may be better suited to improving dental color.

Schedule a Consultation

Don't let smoking stains make you feel like you need to hide your smile. There are many cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatments that can improve dental color and overall aesthetics. To find out which treatments are best for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation at Brooklyn Heights Dental today!

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