8 Dental Tips for Smokers and Former Smokers

8 Dental Tips for Smokers and Former Smokers

Post Date: Oct 18, 2023

Smoking can cause numerous health problems. And it’s also likely to lead to issues in your mouth. Good oral hygiene can help reduce the impacts of smoking, both for current and former smokers. Follow these dental tips to help keep your mouth healthy.

Use a soft-bristle brush

Yellowed teeth are one of the first visible impacts that smoking has on your mouth. That’s because of staining from tar and nicotine. Don’t be tempted by stiff-bristle brushes marketed to smokers. Dentists recommend soft-bristle brushes across the board. You can combine that with fluoride or baking soda toothpaste for extra cleaning. Be sure to be gentle along your gum line since brushing can be hard on sensitive gums.

Mouthwash can help with bad breath

Smoking creates an environment where bacteria thrive. Rinsing with mouthwash can help kill bacteria and prevent cavities and bad breath. Therapeutic mouthrinses help kill bacteria and control plaque. Look for ingredients like fluoride, peroxide, chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride when you’re buying mouthwash.

Don’t forget to floss

Because smoking increases the amount of bacteria in your mouth, removing food residue with flossing is even more important. Don’t let recent news headlines questioning the importance of flossing keep you from doing it. The medical community still agrees that flossing can help reduce plaque in combination with brushing, better than brushing does alone.

Avoid acidic drinks

Higher acidity can erode protective tooth enamel. Nicotine and tobacco can lead to dry mouth, and less saliva production means less flushing of bacteria from your mouth. Combine that with acidic drinks like coffee, soda, fruit juice and sports drinks, and wine, and it could cause lasting damage to tooth enamel.

Shape your diet to support oral health

Add in extra sources of calcium, like dairy or supplements, to help support strong teeth. Vitamins D, A, and K are also important, along with potassium and phosphorous. Your mouth health is part of your body’s overall health, and your diet plays a big role in that. Without the proper nutrients, serious health problems can arise.

Visit the dentist regularly

The best thing that anyone can do for their oral health (on top of brushing and flossing regularly) is to make regular visits to the dentist. It’s good to make an appointment for a cleaning and exam every six months. That way you can stay on top of preventative care and catch any cavities or signs of gum disease early enough to get treatment.

Take time for self-exams

People who smoke are at a higher risk for gum disease and oral cancer. Between dentist visits, take a look at your own mouth for sores, lesions, swollen or bleeding gums, or lumps. Because people who smoke are at a higher risk for mouth cancer, a more thorough self-exam is a good idea.

Quit smoking

Quitting isn’t easy. But if you still have a smoking habit, the best thing you can do for your oral (and overall) health is to quit. You don’t have to do this by yourself. Talk to your dentist or healthcare provider at your next appointment, or seek out behavioral health therapy to help change your habits and behaviors.

Community Health Partners is committed to offering affordable healthcare to residents of Southwest Montana, including behavioral health services and dentistry at clinics in Bozeman and Livingston. Reach out to make an appointment or drop in during emergency dental clinic hours.