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If you are a smoker, your tooth care needs are likely to differ from those of a non-smoker. In order to make sure that these needs are met, it is useful to know what to look for when choosing a toothpaste for smokers. You should seek a product that contains fluoride, whitens the teeth, and eliminates bad breath. Further, when selecting a toothpaste for smokers, you should understand that your brushing technique may be even more important than your toothpaste choice in combating the dental effects of smoking, and that only quitting smoking can fully banish these effects.
Smoking can promote plaque buildup and weaken the gums, making smokers more susceptible than non-smokers to gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. These diseases in turn can lead to tooth decay and even tooth loss. Fluoride can help strengthen the teeth, making them less vulnerable to decay. Thus, when choosing a toothpaste for smokers, you should seek a product that contains fluoride.
Another common dental side effect of smoking is the yellowing of the teeth’s surfaces, which is caused largely by the nicotine found in cigarette smoke. To reduce this effect, a toothpaste for smokers should also contain a whitening agent. Most whitening toothpastes derive their stain-busting capabilities either from a compound that chemically dissipates discoloration or a mildly abrasive substance that gradually lifts stains from the teeth. If your teeth are very discolored, you may find that a whitening toothpaste has little to no noticeable effect. In this case, you may want to have your teeth professionally whitened.
For many, one of the most unpleasant dental side effects of smoking is bad breath. To combat this effect, you should seek a toothpaste that contains an extra-strength breath freshener. Note, however, that a toothpaste’s breath freshening effects generally will only last until your first cigarette following brushing. Therefore, you may want to chew gum or use mints after each cigarette to help mask bad breath.
Finally, it is important to note that your brushing method may be more important than your choice of toothpaste in battling the dental side effects of smoking. To reduce your susceptibility to gum disease, tooth decay and discoloration, and bad breath, you should brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice each day, and floss at least once daily. Even with a good oral hygiene routine, however, if you smoke regularly, you are likely to experience at least some dental side effects. The only way to truly eliminate smoking-related damage to your teeth, gums, and mouth is to quit smoking.