There’s been a recent movement away from smoking in mainstream culture, but the habit is still a popular way for people to socialize or manage their stress or lifestyle. Objectively, smoking is a health hazard and very damaging, but subjectively, everyone has their reasons.
It can cause staining on your teeth and wreak havoc on your gums, leading to ineffective orthodontic treatment and a potential rendezvous with gum disease.
So, brace-wearer, is that smoke break really worth it? Let’s find out
Table of Contents
The Impact of Smoking on Oral Health
Smoking cigarettes is one of the worst things you can do for your oral health. Cigarettes contain tar and nicotine, which stains teeth, turning them yellow, and persistent heavy smokers might have brown teeth. Smoking cigarettes might also lead to gum disease, plaque, and tooth decay.
The chemicals and toxins in cigarettes restrict oxygen in the body, which affects blood flow to the gums; gums can also be aggravated by the toxic smoke passing them regularly, making any cuts harder to heal. Bacterial plaque is also the main cause of gum disease in smokers.
The Risks of Smoking While Wearing Braces
Smokers wearing braces have all the conventional dental risks of smokers, such as plaque accumulation and gum disease. However, they have the added issue of dental staining because of the brace anchors on the front of the teeth. Ultimately, this will ruin the final result of the braces.
Gum disease is not only bad for your health; it can also influence the effectiveness of the braces in aligning your teeth. Gum disease causes a reduction in bone density and softens the gums affecting dental alignment.
Dental Staining and Discoloration
Although the enamel on our teeth is resilient and hard-wearing, it is ultimately a porous material that absorbs pigments from food, drink, and smoke throughout our daily lives. It is normal for teeth to discolor over time, but smoking accelerates dental staining and makes it permanent.
Someone wearing braces should be extra careful about what they consume since dental staining can influence the final result of orthodontic treatment – think of a tan line when sunbathing. Avoid dental staining by avoiding substances like tobacco, coffee, and wine.
Gum Health and Orthodontic Treatment
Before starting any orthodontic treatment plan, consult your orthodontist to determine if you’re a suitable candidate. An orthodontist will check your teeth and gums to ensure that any orthodontic treatment has the best positive outcome.
Braces and dental aligners rely on the strength of the gums, especially in the final stages of wearing braces when the gums need to be set in their new position. Someone smoking during treatment is likely to have weaker gums or gum disease that prevents the teeth from setting.
Impact of Treatment Duration and Results
Smoking harms the gums and teeth position in orthodontic treatment, but it also impacts the treatment itself. Orthodontists use special bonding agents for the anchors, which can be weakened by cigarette smoke. In turn, this delays the results of your aligners or braces.
Orthodontic treatment plans are carefully orchestrated, and while there is some variation, the final results should accord with the patient’s dental attributes. Weak anchors due to smoking reduce the effectiveness of the wire-tightening phases and prevent teeth from moving.
Quitting Smoking with Braces
Smoking while wearing braces is counterintuitive; you want a desired outcome, but your lifestyle is delaying or preventing it. It is acute in the case of braces because the treatment requires a significant investment of time and money. However, it is also the perfect time to quit your habit.
Although it isn’t easy to quit smoking, there are some effective ways, depending on your personality and the strength of the habit. Start with lifestyle changes like avoiding triggering situations and practicing mindfulness to manage cravings. Hypnotherapy can also be effective.
If you are struggling to quit smoking straight away, keep at it. Remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person might not work for you; that said, there should be a strategy you can try that will be effective. Often, it helps to replace one habit with another, like smoking for fitness.
Oral Hygiene and Braces When Smoking
The best advice is to avoid smoking completely when undergoing orthodontic treatment, but for some people, this simply is not an option; the addiction has them gripped. In this case, it’s important to manage the condition as well as possible to reduce staining and improve results.
Cigarette smoke is incredibly staining and often affects the retainers, especially clear ones. Change your dental cleaning habits and brush more frequently; it also helps to brush soon after smoking to reduce the time tar and nicotine sit on the teeth. Also, consider special toothpaste.
Smoking with braces can be challenging, as the brackets and wires can trap smoke particles and tar, leading to discoloration of the teeth and bad breath. Therefore, it is crucial for smokers with braces to maintain good oral hygiene.Firstly, it is essential to brush your teeth after every meal, including after smoking. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to clean your teeth thoroughly.
Consulting With Your Orthodontist
People who smoke and also receive orthodontic treatment might consider avoiding the discussion with their orthodontist, even going as far as to brush their teeth discretely before their visit. However, having a frank and open discussion about smoking is important.
An orthodontist will not tell you what to do, but they will give you all the information and the best advice for managing your habit while wearing braces or some tips for quitting. Without these discussions, your dental treatment could be adversely affected.
In conclusion, while it may be physically possible to wear braces and smoke simultaneously, it is strongly discouraged due to the detrimental effects it can have on oral health. Smoking cigarettes not only leads to yellowing of teeth but also weakens the gums, making it harder for the teeth to properly set in the gums. The combination of braces and smoking can exacerbate these negative effects, potentially leaving a mark where the brace anchor has been secured to the enamel.
In the end, maintaining a smoke-free lifestyle will not only contribute to a healthier mouth but also lead to better overall health and a brighter, more confident smile. Your oral health is in your hands, and choosing health over smoking is a significant step toward a brighter, healthier future.
 Smoking and Oral Health: Effects of Smoking on Teeth. URL: https://www.healthline.com/health/smokers-teeth [
 Effects Of Smoking On Teeth. URL: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/threats-to-dental-health/effects-of-smoking-on-teeth
Dr. Joel Gluck has practiced orthodontics since 1983 when he opened his own office in Nashville. He earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, and his dental degree at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Gluck then completed an orthodontic specialty residency at the University of Michigan, one of the top five orthodontic training residencies in the country. He also wrote an original thesis and received a Master of Science degree.