Can we really have our cake and ‘smoke’ it? Nicotine and tar from cigarettes stain our teeth brown. It is virtually impossible to remove such cigarette stains from our teeth with merely daily brushing. The question arises for those who are reluctant to give up their smoking vice, yet want to have white teeth: Is it really feasible?
The most obvious way to avoid stained teeth is to quit smoking. With every puff of tobacco you take, it contributes to a film of tar that coats the tooth enamel. While nicotine itself is colourless, it oxidises – resulting in a yellow discolouration. Nicotine and tar settle into the porous cavities of our enamel, which, fortunately, is only on the outer layer of the tooth surface. With regular scaling and polishing by your dentist, the tobacco stains might be greatly reduced. Nonetheless, the habit of smoking would only contribute a recurrent deposit of discolouration on your teeth. We could unanimously agree that even with the aid of regular polishing, it is not an effective solution in attaining pearly whites.
What if you really want that white sparkling smile?
Well, options such as in-clinic whitening or home whitening kits could help accomplish that. Dentists advise: “Patients who wish to do teeth whitening should not have gum disease or cavities. However, for smokers and habitual coffee drinkers, discolouration might recur.”
While whitening solutions could achieve the ideal white shade, it is done at the expense of the tooth enamel. In order to whiten your teeth, bleach is used which causes the tooth enamel to be even more porous. Assuming that you didn’t manage to quit smoking, whitening your teeth could potentially cause staining to be a more deep-seated problem than it was before.
Seeking whitening solutions at the dentist’s office is, by far, the most prudent option as the dentist examines the patient’s dental history, in order to assess if it is a suitable treatment. In-clinic whitening is a highly popular service as it ensures immediate results. A light-cured protective agent is applied onto the gums and papilla to minimise chemical burns to the soft tissues. The whitening agent used is either carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. The whitening process is usually accompanied with light energy, which accelerates the process. While this treatment could be done in about an hour, the use of light during whitening increases the risk of tooth sensitivity.
An alternative to in-clinic whitening would be a customised whitening tray. A custom-fitted mouth tray made by a dentist is highly recommended because tooth-whitening gel might leak out of generic trays. Not only would it cause irritation to your gums, but it also would not whiten your teeth as efficiently. This solution requires more time to achieve results as one would need to wear the tray for up to four hours daily for a fortnight. To upkeep the whiteness, one would just need to use it occasionally. Customised dental trays are a great complement to maintaining whiteness attained from in-clinic whitening.
Whether you wish to whiten your teeth as a habitual smoker is truly a personal decision as it requires a lifestyle transformation. While some might be satisfied with a regular 6-month polishing at the dental clinic, it does fall short of the expectations of THE sparkling white smile. If you want a beautiful, white set of teeth, do consider the monumental decision to quit smoking!