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What does smoking do to your teeth

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Smoking can cause all kinds of unpleasant effects on your health, from chesty coughs to bad skin. One result of smoking that’s sometimes overlooked is poor dental health including stained teeth.

If you’re a smoker and you’re worried about your teeth, we’re here to answer some of your common questions about smoking and dental health. We also have the support you need to help you stop smoking, so read on for more advice.

Why is smoking so bad for your teeth?

Smoking tobacco lowers the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream and reduces blood flow to the mouth. This means infections in the gum such as ulcers or sores take longer to heal. Smoking can also increase the build-up of plaque and tartar, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, tobacco products increase your risk of different mouth and throat cancers.

Smoking can even change the colour of your teeth causing them to appear yellow and stained. This staining is caused by the tar and nicotine in tobacco and can sometimes be permanent. You might notice that over time your teeth become yellow or even brown.

Can smoking cause tooth loss?

If you smoke, you have a higher risk of developing serious gum disease and tooth loss. This risk also increases with the more cigarettes you smoke. In its early stages, gum disease can cause redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums. Later on, it might cause bad breath, a bad taste in the mouth, and loose teeth. It can also cause pockets of pus (abscesses) to develop under the teeth.

If you’ve noticed red or bleeding gums, it’s best to speak to your dentist. Our in-store pharmacists can also help if you considering quitting smoking but aren’t sure where to start.

How can I protect my teeth while smoking?

One of the best ways to look after your teeth is to make sure you brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. You should also use floss or use interdental sticks regularly to help clean between your teeth. Regular check-ups with your dentist can help keep your teeth healthy.

Beyond that, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to protect your teeth. Our in-store Stop Smoking Service and range of stop smoking products could help you. You can also speak to family and friends to get support and encouragement while you stop smoking.

What happens to your teeth when you quit smoking?

Studies have found that stopping smoking can lower your risk for developing gum disease and prevent gum disease progressing if you already have it. Quitting smoking will make a big difference to your gum health. Stopping smoking alongside good dental hygiene will help to keep teeth and gums healthy.

How can I repair my teeth after smoking?

To keep your teeth healthy, you should do the following:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day, including just before you go to bed. You should brush for about two minutes using a manual or electric toothbrush.
  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, as this helps prevent tooth decay.
  • Floss or use interdental sticks before you brush your teeth. If you can, do this once a day.
  • Visit a dentist for a check-up every one or two years.

If you’ve developed gum disease as a smoker, you should visit your dentist for advice and treatment.

In its early stages gum disease is called gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). This can often be treated at home with good oral hygiene. If the condition is more severe it might require treatment like a root planing – this is a deep clean under the gums that usually requires local anaesthetic.

Do teeth whiteners work on nicotine stains?

Having your teeth professionally whitened by a dentist is good option if your teeth are stained from smoking. The whitening process involves applying a special bleaching gel to the teeth. Your dentist might also shine a light or laser on your teeth – this activates the gel to speed up the bleaching.

Teeth whitening isn’t usually available on the NHS, and it can be expensive. It’s also worth noting that teeth whitening isn’t permanent – the effects might only last a few years. Stains can return if you start smoking again, or if you drink lots of red wine, tea or coffee.

At-home treatments for teeth whitening can be risky if they involve applying bleach to the teeth. If this isn’t done properly the bleach can burn the gums and cause damage to the tooth enamel. A good alternative is whitening toothpastes. These may be able to gently lighten the appearance of your teeth and are much safer to use than at-home bleaching kits.

How can I get rid of bad breath from smoking?

Many smokers find that they have bad breath (halitosis) which can be noticeable to others. If you want to you can improve the smell of your breath by quitting smoking. Our Stop Smoking Service can help you find the right products and support for you.

Practising good oral hygiene e.g. brushing and flossing every day can help to get rid of bad breath. A tongue scraper or cleaner can also help with bad breath. If you’re experiencing persistent bad breath it’s a good idea to see your dentist, as this can be a sign of gum disease.

Get help to stop smoking

Struggling to quit smoking for good? At LloydsPharmacy we offer a range of stop smoking products, including nicotine gums, lozenges, patches and sprays.

We’re also offer our in-store Stop Smoking Service. Visit this page to learn more about the service and use our online stop smoking tool.

Stop smoking tool

References

www.qvh.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/The-effect-that-smoking-has-on-your-oral-health-Rvw-Feb-2020.pdf
https://smokefree.gov/quit-smoking/why-you-should-quit/health-effects
www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/periodontal-gum-disease.html
www.nhs.uk/conditions/gum-disease/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30011036/
www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/teeth-whitening/