Everyone wants a nice smile with bright, white teeth. Many things can stain teeth, but if you smoke, keeping your teeth stain-free is even more of a challenge. Tobacco stains typically go deeper into teeth than the superficial stains of non-smokers. Luckily, there are several options for teeth whitening for smokers.
Efforts to whiten teeth for smokers should start with good overall dental care. A regular oral hygiene regimen that includes thorough brushing and flossing is important for everyone. When that isn’t enough to get rid of stains, patients have the choice of trying to do it themselves or seeing a dentist for help. Which option they choose depends on how bad their stains are, how much time and effort they want to invest, and their budget.
What Causes Stains on Smokers’ Teeth?
Nicotine and tar are the two culprits that cause smokers’ teeth to turn yellow or even brown. They are absorbed into the teeth, leaving stubborn stains.
Tar is the substance left behind from burning tobacco. It is responsible for the discoloration sometimes found on a smoker’s fingers and teeth. Chewing tobacco stains teeth even worse. The tobacco, when combined with saliva, is more concentrated and stays on the teeth longer.
Nicotine is colorless, but it can stain teeth too. When it combines with oxygen, nicotine turns yellow. Many people switch to electronic cigarettes to avoid some of the health issues associated with smoking. While it’s true that e-cigarettes don’t contain tar from tobacco, most do contain nicotine. Users can still experience the effects of nicotine in their bodies and on their teeth.
DIY Teeth Whitening for Smokers
Products like whitening toothpaste and whitening rinses are popular methods of teeth whitening for smokers. Some are formulated specifically for smokers. These products often contain hydrogen peroxide and may help with superficial stains for some patients.
Plastic whitening strips have become a common choice for teeth whitening and are available over-the-counter. One drawback is that they may not cover all surfaces of the teeth. This can be a problem for smokers since nicotine and tar stains are often in between teeth and along the gumline.
Whitening trays may fit better and cover more of the teeth’s surface, but they are still “one size fits all.” Like whitening strips, it may take several applications until a smoker sees any results. And some may find the harsh chemicals irritating to their gums.
There are many of these products on the market and their effectiveness varies greatly. Finding the best ones is a matter of trial and error and can become expensive.
Professional Teeth Whitening for Smokers
An alternative to at-home, DIY options is seeing a dentist for teeth whitening for smokers. Routine professional cleanings may show results in removing some minor stains.
Beyond that, most dentists offer an array of professional whitening methods. These methods use a variety of tools and techniques. Most use a hydrogen peroxide whitening gel accompanied by either chemical, light-activated technology, or lasers. These are administered at the dentist’s office. Others include take-home whitening trays for the patient to use at their convenience.
Some common products offered by members of the Dental Health Society are:
- Biolase eZlase 940
- Opalescence Boost
- Venus White
- EZ White™Pro
Teeth whitening at the dentist’s office is usually more successful at removing stains that are resistant to at-home products. The whitening agents that professionals use to bleach the teeth are stronger than those available over the counter. A higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide solution can result in faster and more noticeable improvements. At the same time, dentists take precautions to minimize irritation caused by the solutions they use.
Dentists can help patients weigh the pros and cons of each teeth whitening product. Some factors affecting the decision would be how quickly a patient would like to see results, how many shades lighter they’re hoping their teeth will be, and the level of sensitivity in their tooth enamel and gums.
Getting Help for Tobacco-Stained Teeth
Smoking, chewing tobacco, and even “vaping” electronic cigarettes can leave behind stained and dingy teeth. But there are viable options to fix the problem. Several methods of teeth whitening for smokers can provide effective results at a wide range of price points. Consult with a dentist (or find one with our online tool) about the choices available. Even if you smoke, your teeth don’t have to show it.