Is Teeth Whitening Effective for Smokers?
Tooth color has a huge impact on the overall appearance of the smile. Dental stains and discoloration can make the entire smile look unhealthy and unattractive. Many different factors can contribute to tooth discoloration, but smokers are especially prone to this cosmetic flaw.
Cigarettes can leave the teeth deep yellow, and may result in brown stains. These issues are resistant to tooth brushing, but teeth whitening may be an option for smokers. Teeth whitening uses bleaching agents to lift away stains and enhance tooth color. Dr. Louis J. Buono, whose dental practice serves Long Island, NY, Garden City, NY, and surrounding areas, discusses how teeth whitening may benefit individuals with discoloration caused by smoking.
Why Does Smoking Cause Discoloration and Dental Stains?
Smoking a cigarette is not going to immediately cause the teeth to appear discolored or stained. However, over time the ingredients in cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or other nicotine-based products can cause discoloration or spots. Nicotine and tar are the main cause of tooth discoloration associated with smoking. Tooth enamel is porous, so nicotine and tar are able to seep into the pores of the teeth. Tar can cause brown discoloration or stains, while nicotine can combine with oxygen to give the teeth a yellow tint.
Does Teeth Whitening Work for Smokers?
During teeth whitening treatment, a whitening gel is applied to the surface of the teeth. The teeth are then exposed to a special light that activates bleaching agents in the gel. The teeth are exposed to the light for 15 minutes before they are cleaned off and the process is repeated. During one in-office teeth whitening treatment, the teeth go through three 15-minute cycles of whitening. One treatment can erase surface stains and enhance the color of the teeth by up to 12 shades.
While teeth whitening offers promising results to our Long Island patients, it is not effective on all types of dental stains and discoloration. Teeth whitening is meant to address extrinsic stains, or those that affect a tooth’s outer layer of enamel. Fortunately for smokers, the discoloration caused by smoking primarily affects the tooth enamel, so teeth whitening can be extremely effective for smokers.
How Can Smokers Prolong Teeth Whitening Results?
Teeth whitening can effectively eliminate stains and discoloration associated with smoking and tobacco use. However, if people continue to smoke, new stains and discoloration are likely to develop, which will compromise teeth whitening results. While we always recommend that patients quit smoking, there are some steps that smokers can take to prolong teeth whitening results, such as:
- Try to refrain from smoking for at least 24 hours after teeth whitening treatment
- Whenever possible, brush the teeth or rinse the mouth with water after smoking
- Schedule biannual dental exams and cleanings
- Schedule maintenance teeth whitening treatments as needed
Smoking can take a huge toll on the appearance of the smile. If you are suffering from discoloration or dental stains caused by smoking, we invite you to consider professional teeth whitening treatment at Garden City Smiles. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Louis J. Buono, send us a message online or call (516) 294-0375 at your earliest convenience.