Top 5 Oral Hygiene Tips For Smokers

Posted on: 4 August 2015

Smoking is a serious issue that causes numerous health issues, including dental problems. In order to preserve your smile, it's best to quit smoking. If quitting is difficult, there are still steps you can take to minimize the impact and risk on your teeth. Here are five dental care tips for smokers:

1. Visit your dentist more often.

Dentists recommend twice yearly checkups for healthy adults. If you're a smoker, you should consider visiting your dentist three to four times per year. Smoking increases plaque and tartar formation which means you need frequent cleanings. Your dentist will also check your mouth for signs of oral cancer.

2. Choose the right toothbrush.

Smokers can benefit from ultrasonic toothbrushes. Ultrasonic toothbrushes pulsate to loosen plaque and move thousands of times per minute. These toothbrushes help to remove more plaque and tartar than you can with a regular toothbrush. You should brush at least twice a day and brush for three to five minutes. Be sure to floss after brushing to help remove plaque trapped between your teeth. Some of the more expensive toothbrushes also remove stains caused by smoking.

3. Stop smoking before dental procedures.

Smoking increases the healing time after dental procedures and can even increase the risk of procedure failure. If you're getting a root canal, dental implants, or a bridge, it's best to stop smoking for a few weeks before the procedure. This will increase the speed of your recovery. Do not resume smoking until your dentist says that you are fully healed. Your dentist may recommend that you stop smoking for good after dental implant procedures.

4. Keep your mouth moist.

Cigarettes dry out your mouth and decrease saliva production. Saliva helps wash away germs from your gums and teeth. To keep your teeth healthy and your breath fresh, drink plenty of water throughout the day. Swish the water around your teeth and gums, especially after smoking, eating, and drinking. Chew ADA accepted gum to keep saliva flowing. If you're on any medication, use toothpaste and mouthwash designed to treat dry mouth.

5. Examine your mouth regularly.

Smokers have an increased risk of oral cancer and periodontal disease. It's important that you examine your own mouth between dental visits. You need to know the signs of oral cancer. Here are warning signs:

  • Sores or patches
  • Bleeding
  • Loose or shifting teeth

As a smoker, you also need to recognize the signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease. Symptoms of gum disease can be different in smokers since smoking reduces bleeding and redness. Here are the signs of gum disease:

  • Pain when chewing
  • Gums that are tender to the touch
  • Swelling gums
  • Receding gums
  • Sensitive teeth

While the best way to take care of your teeth is to stop smoking, these tips will help you improve your oral hygiene. For more information, contact a dentist like Michael A. Israelson, DDS.