Smokers develop stained, periodontally compromised and decayed teeth over time. (1) It is a challenge to fix these conditions for a better-looking set of teeth. The first time you meet someone, you are most likely to observe their teeth. Nothing is more putting off than an unpleasant smile. You would not want to be at a critical business interview or a wedding with ugly teeth.
Some quick procedures that help in repairing smoker’s teeth are scaling, teeth whitening and gingival grafts. But remember, these are all temporary measures, and they are all futile if you don’t quit the habit of smoking.
Smoker’s teeth repair
Cleaning your gums
The gums are probably worst affected when you smoke. The color changes from red to brown, they recede below the tooth level and show increased plaque accumulation. A smoker’s gums need extensive treatment.
This begins with a thorough cleaning of the gums to remove all the debris, plaque and bacteria. If cleaning does not do the job, you will have to get a deep scaling and root planing done.
If the gums have changed color drastically, a surgical depigmentation procedure helps you regain the pink tinge. A gingival graft surgery aids in regaining the gingival level back to normal. The graft can be from the palate itself.
One of the most unpleasant effects of smoking is teeth staining. Tobacco stains your teeth, making them into a dull yellow or brownish color.
To get rid of these stains, your dentist will advise you a bleaching method in his office, or recommend a home bleaching solution. You can also turn to over the counter whitening pastes or pens. (2)
Remember that tooth whitening will only help you remove the stains on the external tooth surface. If you have any intrinsic stains, they may fade, but they will still be there. (3)
Restorative & Prosthetic Work
Smoking does not directly cause tooth decay, but it accelerates the process. (4) If you have a rotten tooth, especially in the front part of your mouth, you will have to get it checked before your important appearance.
If the decay is in the early stage, your dentist will remove it and fill it with a restorative cement.
If the decay has progressed to the pulp, you have to get a root canal treatment done. After the root canal, the dentist will make an impression of the mouth to give you a crown over it.
In cases where the tooth is beyond repair, you will have to get the tooth removed and proceed for an implant or a bridge. The possibility of an implant in a smoker is questionable. This is due to the destruction of alveolar bone in smokers.
To improve your smile, you can get a dental crown or veneer over your front teeth. This will hide the stains caused due to smoking.
Maintain good oral hygiene
In the days following dental treatment, maintain good oral health to upkeep the treatment. This includes brushing twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste and cleaning your tongue thoroughly.
Floss regularly and take extra care of your gums. You can also use an alcohol-free mouthwash. Reduce consumption of sugar-containing chewing gums, candy, and acidic beverages. If you consume alcohol, watch the intake.
The most effective solution – Kick the butt
None of the above treatments makes any significant difference unless you quit smoking altogether. You may get a set of beautiful teeth temporarily, but they mean nothing till you can get the cigarette to leave your hands permanently.
As long as the stimulus, tobacco, in this case, enter your mouth, the symptoms will persist.
Although it is challenging to quit this habit, it is worth it. Not just your mouth, your entire body will benefit if you kick the butt.
When you have finally developed the mental resolve to quit, set a date for yourself- one you intend to stick to. In the build-up to this date, reduce the frequency of your habit gradually. This will make it easier to stop finally
There is plenty of help available around. You can turn to your dentist if you have been visiting him frequently for treatment and he knows about your habit history.
Family and friends can give you moral support and engage you in activities that will distract you. You can also seek the assistance of a therapist, counselor or support group.
Your doctor will prescribe medications that help you to deal with the withdrawal symptoms to follow. Take these medicines regularly and at the right times.
No one wants to have an unpleasant smile on a big day- be it a wedding, an interview, or your child’s important day at school. If you are a smoker, you may have to put in extra effort to have your teeth fixed before you can finally quit the habit for good.