Smokers’ Teeth What It Is And What Can Be Done - Savina Dental Clinics Malta and Gozo

If you have been smoking for several years, the chances are that you have noticed brown and yellow stains on your teeth. Dentists refer to this type of discolouration as smokers’ teeth. The condition is prevalent among smokers of all ages. In this article, we will look at what it means to have smokers’ teeth as well as how you can remedy it.

Effects of smoking on your teeth

Smoking is an unhealthy habit that is associated with a lot of health problems. However, most smokers tend to overlook its effect on their oral health. Below are some of the serious dental conditions that emanate from smoking regularly.

Tooth discolouration

Tooth staining is one of the most visible manifestations of smoking. When you smoke for a long time, tobacco stains begin to form on the surface of your teeth. These stains can be dark brown, black, or even yellow. The severity of tooth discolouration largely depends on how long and frequently you have been smoking. This condition weighs on the smokers’ appearance and confidence in social settings.

Gum disease

Periodontal or gum disease is an unpleasant gum infection. If left untreated for a long period, it can damage your teeth’s bone support and even lead to your teeth make moving and eventually falling out

Gum disease is more prevalent among smokers. It starts as a build-up of plaque between and around your teeth leading to a low-grade but long-standing bacterial infection

Smoking weakens your body’s defence mechanism against such infections. This makes it hard for your immune system to fight off gum disease (gingivitis).

Nicotine and other chemicals in smoke adversely affect the blood circulation in your gums – this makes it even harder for the immune system to reach the inflamed  areas and combat gum disease

Tooth decay

Nicotine reduces the amount of saliva in a smoker’s mouth, causing the little left to be thicker. Thick saliva is unable to protect the teeth from harmful agents. This leaves your teeth vulnerable to decay. This means that smokers have a higher risk of dental caries than non-smokers.

Bone damage

Smoking cigarettes can lead to periodontal bone loss. Its destructive effects on the smokers’ bone structure could be vertical or horizontal. The ‘vertical defect’ is severe damage to the periodontal bone structure.

The risk of bone loss in a smoker increases to 2 or 3-fold. Heavy smokers tend to experience more serious consequences than light smokers.

Tooth loss

Smoking ranks among the most potent risk factors for tooth loss. The key symptom for periodontitis, which easily leads to tooth loss, is bleeding gums. But smoking hides it pretty well since it restricts blood supply to the gums. This makes the gums of the smoker seem much healthier than they are. For this reason, smokers do not notice the damage until it’s too late, and this often results in tooth loss.

What can be done to fix smokers teeth?

Like most dental conditions, you can do something to fix smokers’ teeth. However, this depends on the extent of damage that has already occurred and whether you intend to cut down or stop smoking or not. If the damage is too extensive, you cannot do much. Likewise, treatment is usually much less successful or completely unsuccessful if you do not reduce or quit smoking.

Home whitening products

Like we mentioned earlier, smoking is responsible for teeth discolouration. If you catch the symptoms early, you can use home whitening products to reverse this problem. For instance, you could use high-quality whitening toothpaste. The abrasive properties of such toothpaste polish the enamel and eradicate the stains. Such products, however, are not indicated for routine daily use as their high abrasivity results in wearing away of the enamel, which can eventually lead to different problems such as chipping of teeth and sensitivity.

Home remedies for smokers’ teeth

Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

Introducing baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to your oral hygiene routine may also come in handy. This combination helps in stripping the hardened residue that forms as a result of smoking.

Related reading: Can you use baking soda on your teeth

Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is also abrasive. It can be used to remove nicotine and tobacco stains from your teeth, although, as with smokers’ toothpastes, it is not recommended for routine use due to enamel damage.

Seeking help from your dentist

Smoking poses a huge risk to your oral health. Regardless of the damage, seeking help from your dentist early could help fix some of the problems.

Dental procedures for fixing smokers teeth

Teeth whitening

Smiling woman with perfect white teeth

If your teeth are discoloured, a dentist can use various teeth whitening and cleaning procedures to restore the colour of your teeth. The more you smoke, the shorter the duration of the whitening result.

Dental Veneers

For stubborn teeth stains and discolourations where professional teeth whitening procedures will not work (due to various individual-specific reasons), dental veneers are a viable solution for those looking to perfect their smile.

Root canals, crowns, and fillings

In the case of tooth decay due to smoking for a long time, the dentist can diagnose the problem and decide on the right cause of treatment. These could include fillings, crowns, or a root canal.

Scaling/root planing

Scaling and root planing is another dental cleaning procedure your dentist can use to reverse the effects of gum disease. The dentist uses a combination of sophisticated ultrasonic and manual instruments to remove the plaque on the surface of your teeth to restore your oral health. Routine scale and polish appointments remove smoking stains extremely effectively.

Take away tips

Try to quit smoking

If you have noticed any form of damage on your teeth, try to stop smoking. This will prevent further damage as well as aid recovery from the treatment you will receive. Also, the home remedies you turn to are likely to work well once you stop smoking.

Keep up good oral hygiene and visit your dentist

Oral hygiene is vital for both smokers and non-smokers. Ensure that you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly. Pay attention to your teeth and do not miss your dental check-ups.

Smoker’s teeth is an unpleasant condition that’s rampant among smokers. And at its worst, it can cause loss of teeth and destruction of bone structure. As a smoker, you should take better care of your teeth. Remember, smoking makes you vulnerable to a myriad of dental issues as well as other health issues.

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If you are looking for a dental check-up in Malta or Gozo, please contact us using our online appointment form or call us now  (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport) / (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo).

Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.