How to get rid of teeth stains from smoking?

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What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

For those who smoke often, there may be concerns about how to remove smoke stains from the teeth. This is because a smile has a significant influence on society’s perception of beauty, and when it is compromised by the presence of tobacco stains between the teeth, it frequently causes harm to one’s physical and emotional well-being as well as a loss of self-worth.
Cigarette stains on the teeth cause unbearable psychological distress in addition to significant embarrassment. This may have an impact on a person’s general health and capacity to fully engage in society, including playing the roles of friends, family, coworkers, and others that call for social connection. Hence, this article addresses the development of tobacco stains on the teeth along with the professional and at-home options available to remove smoke stains from the teeth.

What does the term “dental staining” mean?

Dental staining is an alteration in the natural tooth colour. 
The term “stain” refers to the discoloration that results from ingestion of materials, bacterial action, tobacco use, and/or other substances on the surface or surfaces of the teeth. These dental stains could be acquired, developmental, intrinsic, or extrinsic.

Intrinsic stains can be caused by several conditions, including alkaptonuria, congenital erythropoietic porphyria, congenital hyperbilirubinemia, tetracycline staining, enamel hypoplasia, pulpal hemorrhagic products, root resorption, and ageing. 

According to Watts, extrinsic stains are classified as metallic or non-metallic. This distinction is based on whether the stain was produced by a chemical reaction at the tooth’s surface or if materials were incorporated into the newly formed pellicle and produced a stain related to the components’ original colour. 

  • Non-metallic stains can be caused by tobacco smoke, mouthwashes containing quaternary ammonium compounds, and mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine. 
  • Metallic stains have been associated with the use of iron supplements, mouthwashes containing potassium permanganate, pharmaceuticals containing metal salts, grey discoloration from silver nitrate salt, and golden-brown discoloration from stannous fluoride.

Structural flaws in the tooth may contribute to internalised discoloration by allowing chromogenic bacteria to penetrate the tooth surface and eventually stain the tooth. These fall into three main categories:

  • Imperfections resulting from restorative materials,
  • Acquired defects, and
  • Developmental defects

Developmental abnormalities include enamel hypoplasia and dentiogenesis imperfecta, which cause intrinsic staining challenges. The acquired abnormalities lead to a tendency to stain: gum recession, tooth cavities, and tooth wear (attrition, abrasion, and erosion causing either physiologic or pathologic loss of tooth structure). In addition, dental stains may also be associated with the migration of restorative materials like amalgam into dentinal tubules.

How do the tobacco stains develop on the tooth surfaces?

External tobacco stains usually develop in areas of the teeth that are less accessible to tooth brushing and the abrasive action of toothpaste. Of all the causes, smoking cigarettes accelerates the external stain development.

How external stains form:

Stain development begins with the accumulation of chromatogenic materials on the outer layer of teeth. As was already mentioned, smoking, chromatogenic foods and drinks, and inadequate oral health can all result in extrinsic colour changes. 

These stains are usually present in the pellicle (a thin layer on the surface of the teeth) and are either the consequence of the retention of foreign chromophores by the pellicle or they develop by the interaction of sugars and amino acids. This process, also referred to as the “Millard reaction” or “non-enzymatic browning reaction.

What happens when someone smokes:

In order to successfully remove smoke stains from the teeth, it is critical to understand how smokers’ teeth stains develop;

The smoke that emerges directly from a lighted cigarette is frequently referred to as “whole smoke.” It is made up of liquid droplets suspended in a mixture of gases and semi-volatile chemicals in an aerosol. We refer to this as the particle phase. If it contains no nicotine, it is commonly referred to as “tar,” or a nicotine-free particulate fraction. The buildup of this tar causes cigarette filters to turn yellow-brown in colour and serves as a chromophore to discolour the tooth surface.

Is it possible to remove smoke stains from the teeth?

Tooth staining may pose an adverse psychological effect on a patient and be a cosmetic challenge for a medical practitioner. Since cigarette smokers are no exception, it is important to remove smoke stains from the teeth. 

While it is possible to remove smoke stains from the teeth, the effectiveness of specific cleaning methods can vary depending on the extent of the staining and the overall condition of the teeth. The tar and nicotine in cigarettes can generate tobacco stains, which can seep into the enamel and discolour it yellow or brown. One of the best methods to remove the smoke stains from the teeth is to get them professionally cleaned. Dentists carefully clean dental surfaces using ultrasonic devices and specific polishing tools.

The treatment modalities for the removal of tobacco stains on the teeth include:

Cosmetic teeth whitening:

This process helps to give the outer layer of teeth a whiter appearance. Teeth whitening can be a very beneficial approach to lightening the natural colour of teeth without causing damage to the surface, even though it cannot make teeth sparkling white.

Professional chair-side teeth-whitening treatments include laser whitening and in-office bleaching with hydrogen peroxide. Veneers (thin shells placed over teeth) or bonding (tooth-matching resin) may be explored in extreme cases where stains are deeply established and resistant to other treatments. 

The following should all be considered before undergoing any of these cosmetic procedures:

A thorough dental examination is essential: Before starting a teeth-whitening programme, one must be clear of oral diseases such as periodontitis, gingivitis, and tooth decay. Additionally, teeth shouldn’t be broken, sensitive, or chipped. If these conditions are not properly evaluated and managed before the procedure, they may worsen and influence the results of teeth whitening.

Realistic Expectations: Please note that teeth-whitening effects are not necessarily permanent and can last anywhere from a few months to three years. Although everyone’s experience with the effects varies, in general, people who smoke or consume tea, coffee, or red wine, for example, experience shorter-lasting benefits.

Furthermore, dentists might additionally guide the reasons for stained teeth, such as accidents, natural events, and stains from food, medications, tobacco, and coffee. Once the cause has been identified, more realistic expectations for the procedure can be made.

Treatment aftereffects: Among the side effects of teeth whitening are teeth sensitivity, gum discomfort, and white patches on the gum line. These are temporary adverse effects that normally dissipate a few days into the treatment. However, if any of these adverse effects persist for more than a few days, patients ought to see a dentist.

At-home teeth whitening options:

Teeth whitening toothpastes with moderate abrasives or chemical ingredients that may help fade stains over time may be recommended by your dentist. Prescription whitening gels and strips may also be suggested. Though they might not be as successful as having your teeth whitened by your dentist, these products can frequently lighten teeth by several shades with regular usage over a few weeks.

Self-prescribed natural remedies:

Some people might opt for online remedies suggesting the use of strawberry, apple cider vinegar, and banana peel for teeth whitening. Nonetheless, it should be highlighted that these options might not be very helpful and, without professional guidance, might even be detrimental. 

Does quitting the habit of smoking contribute to a radiant smile?

Yes, you can improve your oral health and lower your risk of gum disease and tooth loss by stopping smoking, even if you’ve been a smoker for a long time.

Smoking impairs the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight against infection. As a result, the bones supporting teeth weaken, causing tooth loss. Giving up smoking lowers the chance of heart disease, lung cancer, and mouth cancer, among other health benefits for your teeth.

Behavioural therapy (BT) may be necessary to help address the addictive habit of smoking and develop new coping mechanisms. If one tends to smoke when they are stressed or upset, counselling could be helpful. Self-motivation and avoiding irritants can help with the therapy. Most people agree that BT is the most effective way to stop smoking. Nonetheless, there are circumstances in which BT might not be as beneficial. In these specific situations, patients may be administered nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or a combination of both BT and NRT. 

Please understand that it is never too late to quit smoking, regardless of how long you have been a smoker. You will still reap the benefits in the short and long terms. 

Quitting the habit is the key to a healthy mouth:

Smoking cigarettes not only discolours teeth but also increases the risk of developing several illnesses. Interestingly, while these methods may help reduce the appearance of cigarette stains on the teeth, the best way to prevent more staining is to quit smoking and practice proper oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing, along with expert dental cleanings, will help keep teeth free of fresh stains and improve oral health in general. For severe or persistent discoloration, more sophisticated procedures like veneers or professional whitening can be required. The best method to figure out the best course of therapy is to consult a dentist.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can further read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

More in

Questions
Fact Check
Interviews
Stories
Videos
What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

What is the best way to remove smoking-related tooth stains?
Cigarette smoke contains tar, which are primarily responsible for the development of dental tobacco stains. Even though these are external stains, it will be challenging to remove them unless the habit is stopped. When the habit is under control, these stains can be treated with expert dental cleaning, bleaching, laser tooth whitening, veneers, and composites.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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Dr. Saumya Saluja
Dr. Saumya Saluja
A periodontal surgeon by qualification, Dr. Saumya is responsible for reviewing health content and driving health literacy projects.
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