Can smoking cause stains on my teeth?

If you are someone who just started smoking, yes those stains on your teeth could be a result of smoking. They appear as dark brown stains found initially at the back of your teeth (the side facing your tongue). And quite often they cannot be removed by regular brushing. If you brush extra hard using a toothpaste that has very high abrasive content, you may stand a chance at removing the stains. But overdoing it can result in abrasion of the enamel which could result in sensitivity. Another culprit would be betel quid, commonly known as ‘paan’ or smokeless tobacco. Chewing them can definitely stain your teeth.

But more important than the staining aspect, is the fact that they are well known carcinogens. Now for those who do not know what a carcinogen is, it is any substance that can cause or aggravate cancer. Tobacco in all forms is an age old cause of oral cancer, the rate of which is alarmingly on the rise. I have come across patients who have got oral cancer at the usual location where the betel quid is placed. So the best approach would be to quit the use of tobacco altogether.

Other causes of stains on teeth are coffee, tea, wine and other dark colored beverages. Very high fluoride levels in drinking water and tooth paste can also cause stains on the developing teeth of children. It begins as hypoplasia of the enamel (seen as a white pigmentation on teeth). That is why children’s toothpaste is preferred for kids over the regular toothpaste, especially since smaller children have a tendency to swallow them.  Medicines like tetracyclines, if taken during pregnancy by the mother, can cause discoloration in the teeth of the child.

Rinsing your mouth thoroughly after the intake of dark colored beverages can help reduce the degree of staining. Your dentist should be able to remove the stains for you by doing scaling (professional cleaning) or tooth-whitening to improve the color of your teeth. Veneers can also be fabricated to cover up badly discolored or disfigured teeth.

(If you have been a smoker all your lifetime, you already know your teeth are stained. The above tips of quitting smoking and visiting your dentist apply all the more to you.)

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