Just because you smoke doesn’t mean that you can’t take steps to ensure that you’re doing the most that you can to prevent tooth decay, mouth infection, gum disease, and the yellowing of your teeth. While you are worse off than non-smokers, don’t count yourself out. Follow these tips to make sure that you’re protecting your mouth to the best of your abilities.
When you smoke, your chance of getting gum disease is twice as high as that of non-smokers. If you can’t or don’t want to quit smoking, you must do extra when it comes to protecting them. You can do this by practicing basic oral hygiene. The first thing you should do is to choose a toothpaste that’s right for you. A gingivitis-reducing or fluoride toothpaste that has the ADA seal of approval is best for smokers because they both help to promote healthy gums. Additionally, if you’re worried about the yellowing of your teeth, there are brands that make whitening toothpastes specifically for smokers. Always brush around your gum line twice a day to help keep your gums strong.
This means any drinks and foods that are highly acidic, such as coffee, curry, pasta sauce, berries, and soda. Not only can these things stain teeth, but they can erode your enamel. When it comes to highly acidic foods and drinks, be careful, and only consume them in moderation.
It can be hard to give up coffee or other foods and drinks that you absolutely love, but there are foods you can consume that actually help to remove tartar buildup and help your teeth stay cleaner. Cheese and other dairy products help neutralize the acids in your mouth. Acidity directly contributes to tartar buildup, so the dairy food group should be extremely important in your regular diet. Leafy greens and other veggies are crucial as well. Basically, anything that is high in calcium and other vitamins and minerals should be eaten. Often because those are the ingredients that naturally fuel a healthy mouth and help to build your enamel.
This is a given as everyone should be doing this, but as a smoker, you really want to push yourself to never break this habit. Make sure that when you’re flossing, you’re hitting the gum lines. This dispels all of the plaque buildup between your teeth and promotes healthy gums. Also, make sure you brush all around your teeth and up around your gum lines to ensure proper brushing. Make sure to brush for two minutes, twice a day. If you need to put a timer on your phone so you hit that two-minute mark every time, do it! Your teeth and gums will thank you.
In between the times that you visit the dentist, you’ll want to treat for tartar buildup yourself. This doesn’t have to be done regularly, maybe just when you hit the halfway mark between dental cleanings. You can use a dental pick or a Brushee to remove tartar, but be careful around your gum line as this area is more sensitive, and you could cause bleeding if you’re too harsh. You can also mix a cup of hydrogen peroxide with ½ a cup of warm water, then rinse your mouth for one minute and spit. To get the taste out of your mouth, you’ll want to rinse again with a ½ cup of cool water. Putting baking soda on your toothbrush and brushing can be effective too. These do-it-at-home methods are not nearly as effective as dental cleanings, so definitely don’t use them as substitutes for professional cleanings.
The best thing you can do is to invest in a tongue cleaner. Because cigarettes contribute to increased amounts of bacteria in your mouth, your tongue is usually the spot that is most affected by this. The bacteria will accumulate there and lead to bad breath, decreased ability of taste buds, and a fuzzy buildup on your tongue’s surface. Use a tongue cleaner once or twice a day for best results and fresher breath. Make sure you wash it before and after use. Also, don’t forget to brush from the back of your tongue forward. Happy brushing!
Rinsing every day with antibacterial mouthwash is crucial to your oral health. To ensure the best results, use 20 mL of mouthwash each time, and make sure you’re swishing the liquid in your mouth for a full 60 seconds before spitting it out into the sink. Choosing an antibacterial solution is important because cigarettes encourage bacterial growth inside your mouth, and you want to do whatever you can to eliminate the amount of it.
This is a big one. You should go to the dentist at least twice a year. Professional cleanings are helpful to anyone’s oral hygiene efforts. During these cleanings, the dental hygienist will scrape off tartar buildup on your teeth and in between your teeth and gums. The hygienist will also polish your teeth to soften and remove plaque. The dentist and hygienist will look for any problems that you may have with your teeth including cavities, gum health, and signs of infection or oral cancer. If you ignore the dentist or only go once a year, you’re not doing the best that you can to protect your teeth.
Because of the fact that smokers are more prone to infections, oral cancer, and gum disease, it’s important to always be on the lookout for the signs of these oral hygiene problems. Examine your mouth once a week to check for sores in the mouth, neck, and face. If sores last for more than two weeks, it could be a serious problem, and you’ll want to get an appointment with your dentist immediately. Check for irregular bleeding, lumps, lesions, and swelling in the inside of your cheeks, under your tongue, and by your gum lines. In general, if you experience any numbness or pain that lasts more than one week’s time, call your dentist right away.
Even if you don’t decide to quit smoking, you can still take care of your teeth by following these tips and practicing overall good oral hygiene. Trust me, your teeth and mouth will thank you.