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Repair a Nicotine-Stained Smile with Teeth Whitening

Most people are aware of the significant consequences that cigarettes and other tobacco products can have on their health. One such consequence is poor oral health. Smoking can result in a number of oral health problems, including bad breath, increased buildup of tarter and plaque on the teeth, inflammation of the salivary glands, possible loss of jawbone, and poor wound healing. Tobacco products also contain nicotine and tar, which cause teeth to discolor. Fortunately for patients with nicotine-stained smiles, teeth whitening treatments are available in-office, via prescription, or over-the-counter.

Effects of Tobacco on Teeth

Tar and nicotine are two substances found in tobacco products that can easily stain and discolor tooth surfaces. By itself, nicotine is a colorless liquid. When nicotine is combined with oxygen, it turns a yellowish hue. When tobacco is inhaled via cigarettes, or chewed via smokeless tobacco products, tar and nicotine settle in the oral cavity, leeching onto tooth enamel and causing teeth to turn a yellowish-brown color. The good news is that nicotine stains are extrinsic, meaning that they can typically be removed.

Removing Nicotine Stains

Tobacco stains can gradually be lightened by maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine, consisting of brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. If stains or discoloration remains, teeth whitening is often the best choice for removing the stubborn stains and achieving a bright, white smile. Of course, teeth whitening will only provide temporary results if you continue to use tobacco products.

How Teeth Whitening Works

The teeth whitening process is fast, effective, and non-invasive. In-office bleaching usually involves just one visit to the dental office. During the procedure, a protective gel or shield is applied to your teeth, followed by a bleach solution. A special laser or light is then used to make the whitening agent more effective. For patients who prefer to whiten their teeth at home, at-home bleaching kits are also available. These kits typically come with a gel and a tray that fits inside the mouth. Over-the-counter whitening strips are also available, and adhere to the front surfaces of the teeth to whiten while you sleep. Yellow nicotine stains on the teeth can appear unsightly, and can often be difficult to remove on your own. Fortunately, teeth whitening treatments have come a long way, allowing patients to achieve a beautiful white smile in as little as one trip to a cosmetic dentistry.
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