Restoring Ex Smokers Teeth

Stopping smoking is important for your health, but your teeth and gums may need some follow-up restorative work

Dentist in surgeryStopping smoking is hard, especially if you have been a regular smoker for a number of years. There are many good reasons to make the effort to stop though, with both health and finances being amongst the most significant. There are lots of ways to quit smoking but whatever works best for you is definitely worth the effort.

Although you will be financially much better off once you have stopped, as well as benefiting health wise, you are likely to have suffered with poor oral health that may have affected your teeth and gums.

In addition to any health issues that may have arisen, it is highly likely that the appearance of your teeth will have suffered too, especially if you were a heavy smoker.

Health issues and treatment

We probably don’t need to say too much about the health implications of smoking. Heart disease and various cancers are more likely if you smoke and you should make sure that you see a doctor if you have any concerns about your health. They may also be able to offer some help and guidance if you are thinking of quitting smoking too.

From a dental perspective, there are two main risks from smoking; oral cancer and gum disease.

Oral cancer is very serious and can be life changing due to the facial disfigurement it can cause. In some cases, unfortunately, it will also result in death. Although it is not the only cause, smoking is considered to be the main cause of this problem. Like most illnesses, the sooner it is detected, the better the chances of positive medical intervention. This is why, when you have your check up at the Foxhall Dental Practice, we not only examine your teeth and gums, but other soft tissues in the mouth too. Although we are not qualified to detect if something is cancerous or not, we are able to detect unusual issues with the soft tissues in your mouth and will refer you to your GP if we notice anything of concern to us. In many cases, the problem will be something entirely different but it is important that you have this checked out as soon as possible.

The other oral health problem that smokers are likely to suffer from is gum disease. This is partially due to the chemicals in cigarette smoke which act as an irritant on the gums. Smoking aso narrows the tiny blood vessels that are located within the gums and which would help to fight infection. The restriction on blood flow caused by the narrowing of the vessels means that you will be less able to fight any infections that occur. Finally, smoking often causes a dry mouth and, as our Ipswich patients who read our blogs will know, this allows bacteria to multiply more easily and increases the risk of periodontal disease.

So, how can we help you restore your oral health once you have given up smoking?  The first thing to do is to check for any potentially serious symptoms that could indicate mouth cancer, but presuming that you are clear of that, the main thing that we can do is to help you restore the health of your gums.

We will need to take an x-ray to make sure that the roots of the teeth and surrounding bone are not infected. If they are, this can involve a quite invasive treatment  known as root scaling or a’deep clean’. This has to be carried out by a suitably qualified dentist and involves cleaning around these areas. Should this not be done, or the treatment proves unsuccessful, as can happen, you are at risk of having wobbly teeth or even losing them. If necessary, we can discuss the various tooth replacement options we have available, including the increasingly popular dental implants.

Where the problem has not reached this stage, we will usually work on restoring your gum health with a non-invasive treatment known as a scale and polish. This will remove hardened bacteria and minerals from your teeth and gum line and will leave your teeth and gums in a much healthier position than before. This treatment will be carried out by the hygienist at our Ipswich practice and following this, you should have an appointment with them every six months to help maintain good mouth health.

Badly stained teeth

One of the most visually noticeable problems that smoking causes is that of stained teeth. Heavy smokers are likely to have teeth that are dark yellow or even brown. Even lighter smokers will have noticed that their teeth look a lot more dull than they should do. To try to improve this, some will, no doubt, turn to teeth whitening toothpastes. Quite frankly, if you do this, you are very likely to be disappointed as these actually contain very little of the whitening ingredient due to safety concerns. If you want to effectively whiten your teeth after you quit smoking, your best bet is to see a cosmetic dentist who will apply one of the following treatments.

Teeth whitening – This is an effective treatment where the staining is not too severe. We offer a one hour treatment that can improve the whiteness of your teeth by up to eight shades.

Dental veneers – For those whose teeth are more heavily stained, porcelain dental veneers may be a more efficient way of improving their appearance. This does require a small invasive treatment where a fine layer of stained enamel is usually removed from the front of the teeth before an equivalent thickness of porcelain is fitted. You will be able to choose the shade of whiteness that you want and the veneers should last for approximately ten years, depending on how well you look after them, before needing to be replaced.

It’s clear that smoking is bad for you and we hope that if you currently smoke, you manage to stop as soon as possible. When you do, we are here to help you get back on track with not only a healthy mouth, but a great looking smile too!

For smoking related oral care or any other dental issue, you can make an appointment with us by calling the Foxhall Dental Practice on 01473 258396.