There are several factors involved in developing teeth stains. Nicotine from smoking is one of the leading causes of tooth discolouration. Nicotine is in fact colourless, but it turns yellow once it comes in contact with oxygen. Combined with the fact that teeth have tiny pores, which absorb the nicotine from smoking, it is clear how this bad habit can lead to long-term stains.
Thankfully, dental offices, good oral hygiene and some over-the-counter products provide an efficient solution to surface stains. Whitening treatments and methods to combat teeth stains from smoking can aid those that find quitting smoking to be very difficult.
What are some DIY methods for teeth whitening?
If you are not dealing with severe discolouration and want to try some DIY at-home treatments first, there are a few options you can look into:
Brushing with baking soda and peroxide solution
One of the most recommended methods for dealing with teeth stains is mixing a single tablespoon of baking soda with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Together they create a paste-like solution you can brush your teeth with. Baking soda is a mild abrasive, which helps oxidize stains and remove them when mixed with peroxide. It is recommended to only use this solution 2-3 times a week, to prevent the enamel from breaking down.
Using natural whiteners
There are a few natural whiteners that can help you remove stains:
- Orange peel scrub - the acidic content has two major uses. On one hand, it acts as an antimicrobial agent. On the other hand, the content of citrus fruits can help the whitening effect. Rub the inside part of an orange peel on your teeth, then rinse and continue with your regular cleaning method.
- Strawberries - the ascorbic and malic acid in strawberries can lighten stains. Mash a single strawberry with a teaspoon of baking soda. Gently rub the mixture onto your teeth, let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse it off.
- Guava leaf paste - to minimise oxidative stress from various microorganisms that cause teeth stains, you can use guava leaf paste. It is rich in flavonoids and phenols and can be made from just 1-2 crushed guava leaves. Rub the resulting paste on your teeth, then rinse it off and wash it with regular toothpaste.
- Apple cider vinegar infused with some lemon - dip your toothbrush in a mix of 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 1/4 lemon juice. Rinse well afterwards and make sure you don't use this method too often because it can be harmful to your enamel.
Oil pulling is an old Indian remedy that involves swishing oil around your mouth to get rid of bacteria. Coconut oil is the most popular choice for this teeth whitening method. It can completely remove and dissolve bacteria in the mouth, improving the hygiene of the mouth. It helps against gum disease, gingivitis and bad breath. And because it removes bacteria, it is also a good option for removing stains from your teeth.
Use over-the-counter teeth whitening products
If you are looking for a simple solution to stains, over-the-counter whitening toothpaste can be a good choice. With their mild abrasive effect, such kinds of toothpaste are ideal for scratching stains off the surface of the teeth. However, they also pose a risk, because using them more often can wear out the enamel on your teeth. An at-home whitening gel and whitening strips are other options you can ask your dentist about.
Professional teeth whitening options
If you feel like the DIY methods don't cut it, you can look into getting professional services. Here is what your dentist can help with.
Regular dental cleanings
One of the best ways to deal with the outcome of chewing tobacco is to have a teeth whitening procedure with your dentist. The purpose of a dental cleaning is to remove both surface stains and tartar buildup from your teeth. Since tobacco smoke deeply stains your teeth, it is important to have a professional check out the best resolution. The procedure usually involves having your teeth painted in peroxide solution. They are then exposed to strong light for a very thorough cleaning.
One more reason to rely on your dental professional to keep your teeth white is they will also do an exam. This can be very important if you have gum disease, tooth sensitivity or gum damage. The expert will assess the situation and recommend the best course of action for your case with minimal risk. A well-performed in-office teeth whitening procedure can provide results for up to three years.
Have a custom tray fit
With this option, you will have your dentist design a custom tray fit to the exact dimensions of your mouth. With it, you can carry out whitening procedures at home by having the product in your mouth for a certain amount of time.
You can have your dentist provide you with a customer whitening tray or perform in-office bleaching to have your teeth look sparkling white. This is usually done with a whitening gel that can completely eliminate the way nicotine affects your teeth. Such gels usually contain carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, which are very strong and used in teeth whitening techniques.
How to best prevent stains on tooth enamel?
Here are 5 steps to follow to be proactive in preventing stains on your teeth.
1. Stop smoking
You are well aware of the negative impact of smoking on your overall health and immune system. You should work on setting the goal to quit smoking if possible. As a smoker, you can expect nicotine stains to disappear once you have stopped the habit. Moreover, it will improve your oral health, even if you have been a smoker for a long time.
2. Brushing and flossing
If you are a smoker, the next best thing to quitting is to be proactive and maintain good oral hygiene. In other words, brush or floss your teeth after smoking to remove the thin layer of tar and chemicals causing stains.
3. Try anti-tar mouthwash
This is a product made for people who smoke a lot. Using it before you brush your teeth with specialised toothpaste is a good way to prevent stains and keep your teeth light.
4. Make alterations to your diet
Apples, carrots and celery are all great foods that remove stains. Being rich in Vitamin C also makes them ideal for the prevention of dental diseases. Citrus fruits (orange, pineapple) contribute to generating additional saliva to wash and whiten teeth. For enamel preservation, make sure you include dairy products in your diet. They also nourish the gums and jaw muscles. Read more about maintaining white teeth with our diet and aftercare tips.
5. Go for regular dental checkups
By paying your dental professional a visit, you can not only deal with stains but make sure your teeth are in good overall condition. Your dentist knows best how to address issues with your teeth and offers the most risk-free approach to whitening and dealing with problems. That is why smokers generally rely on professionals for their dental care.