We all know that wearing braces comes with a bag full of dos and don’t. Speaking of which, one of the prime restrictions with braces is: smoking! Smoke-addicted patients often have a hard time with braces since they are neither able to quit smoking nor could they maintain the health of their braces.
So the question of the hour here is: does smoking affect braces? The answer is yes. Smoking not only slows the pace of your orthodontic treatment but also weakens your teeth. The staining from tobacco affects the enamel of your teeth. Worse still, sometimes even brushing won’t help you remove those stains, leading to increased healing time for your braces.
In this blog, you will learn:
- How does smoking affect your braces?
- How does smoking affect Invisalign?
- The long-term impact of smoking on braces
- Tips and alternatives
So let’s dive in.
- 2 How Does Smoking Affect Your Braces?
- 3 How Does Smoking Affect Your Invisalign?
- 4 Long Terms Effects Of Smoking With Orthodontic Braces
- 5 Tips For Maintaining Oral Health When Wearing Braces
- 6 Alternatives To Smoking
- 7 Conclusion
How Does Smoking Affect Your Braces?
Smoking tobacco when wearing braces is always a NO-NO! Why? For starters, it leads to more costs and hassles owing to prolonged and unplanned orthodontic treatment time. Second, it jeopardizes the expectations from your braces treatment, as it will cause you more pain in the long run.
Apart from this, here are a few more ways how smoking affects braces.
1. Tooth Decay
Smoking makes your braces-worn teeth more prone to plaque and tartar buildup. Sadly, that’s also one of the main reasons for gum inflammation, tooth decay, and bad breath. For braces to work, your oral tissues and bones must be completely free of any disease-causing bacteria. But unfortunately, tobacco consumption levels up the risk of developing gum diseases and tooth and bone loss.
2. Discolored And Stained Teeth
Smoking and tobacco stains will discolor your teeth in the long run, and there are no two ways about it. Especially if you have clear braces, tobacco will gradually discolor them and make your teeth look yellow. To make it worse, when you remove them after the treatment, there is a high chance of your teeth having lighter-colored spots. These spots are usually stained from puffing or using tobacco substitutes.
3. Reduced Saliva Production
This is one of the biggest hazards of smoking with braces. Brace wearers struggle with keeping their mouths hydrated and maintaining saliva production. Saliva is critical as it helps wash away food debris from brackets and helps chew food easily. But aggressive smoking reduces the amount of saliva. It then leads to reduced hydration levels in your mouth and debris buildup because of tobacco.
In fact, a study by the Journal of the Indian Academy of Oral Medicine and Radiology explores the adverse effects of using tobacco. It harms your salivary reflex, salivary secretion, and salivary pH.
Besides these three factors, using smokeless or smoked forms of tobacco also causes bone loss or teeth reduction. Which can ruin your braces results. Research by a Swedish dental journal explores how tobacco smoking causes periodontal bone loss. And when the height of your teeth reduces due to bone loss, you suffer from serious problems like:
- Bite alignment
- Chewing problems
- Anchorage, etc.
How Does Smoking Affect Your Invisalign?
Invisalign comes with similar guidelines to braces. This means you have to take out your Invisalign and then smoke. But again, doing it frequently will impact your treatment. But if you smoke while wearing one. Here’s what can happen.
1. Discoloration of Aligners
They are said to be clear aligners for a reason. Invisalign trays are supposed to be clear as a crystal so that they are aesthetically pleasing by not being visible to the naked eye. If you smoke while wearing Invisalign, the trays will seize dental stains. These stains are usually yellow to brownish shade.
What happens is nicotine and tar leave their colors on the clear trays. Since these trays are tight fitted, they will leave a colored impression on your teeth, staining them forever. Now, removing aligners may solve the problem. But it is more complicated. The nicotine and tar that stays in the mouth will be enough to discolor your Invisalign trays.
2. Reduced Teeth Movement
Invisalign aims to correct spacing and alignment issues by exerting force on your teeth. But it can be achieved only when you wear it as long as possible. Orthodontists normally ask patients to wear aligners at least 22 hours a day. You can remove it only for two hours, during meals.
But, tobacco-addicted patients find it easier to remove it constantly for smoking. Remember that when aligners are removed continuously, they cannot work efficiently on your teeth. The pressure required to move your teeth will be missing. This, in turn, will lead to ever-lasting treatment durations and complications.
3. Risk Of Melted Trays
When you smoke with Invisalign on, keep in mind that you are adding heat to the aligner trays. The heat is often strong enough to melt and deform the trays. Once melted, there’s no way you can continue wearing them. This means expenses for a new set of aligners, elongated treatment time with stained teeth and plaque buildup.
Long Terms Effects Of Smoking With Orthodontic Braces
Maintaining good oral habits is not a choice when undergoing orthodontic treatments like braces. Speaking of which, avoiding tobacco, smoking, and vaping is quintessential for positive treatment results. While not following the restrictions can lead to long-term consequences like:
● Higher Bacteria Levels
Smokers are prone to accumulating higher bacteria levels in their mouths, especially on gums and teeth. This unhealthy bacteria housing in your teeth often causes:
- Decay and gum problems
- Soreness and dryness in the mouth
- Tartar buildup in your brackets and wires
● Gum Inflammation
When you smoke, it actually reduces blood flow in your gums causing gum irritation. And if that’s not bad enough, the bacteria in your mouth can start to build up in the crevices around your gums, making your teeth more prone to serious issues like gum inflammation. Worse, your gums can recede and detach from your teeth, leading to tooth extraction.
● Cell Death
When you wear braces or Invisalign, your entire mouth undergoes extreme pressure. In other words, your teeth move, shift, and align in different directions. This also means your gums are already dealing with foreign circumstances and trying to catch hold of everything.
Unfortunately, smoking and vaping here kill cells in your mouth. This will reduce the resilience of your gums and mouth, and they won’t be able to deal with the extreme force braces exert.
● Extra Cleaning
Your mouth faces extreme pressure when you wear braces or Invisalign, mainly because your teeth move, shift, and align in many directions. This means your gums undergo a mammoth task of dealing with foreign circumstances.
Unfortunately, smoking and vaping here kill cells in your mouth. It weakens your gums, and they can no longer deal with the extreme pressure from braces.
Apart from this, smoking makes periodontal treatments difficult. Research by the Journal of Periodontology says smoking tobacco highly affects bone regeneration after periodontal treatment. Also, it leaves a poorer response to orthodontic treatments and has widespread systemic effects, as revealed by the Journal of contemporary dental practice.
Tips For Maintaining Oral Health When Wearing Braces
- Brush after every meal. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any debris stuck in the brackets or wires of your braces.
- Floss every day. You can use a floss threader to move the floss between teeth and braces and remove any plaque.
- Use orthodontist-recommended mouthwash. It will help kill bacteria and keep your mouth hydrated and fresh.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, smoking, vaping, and hard and sticky food. They are a disaster for your braces and affect your teeth’ alignment.
- Don’t forget to visit your orthodontist regularly. They will notice the first signs of concerns, viz., bacteria or plaque buildup, staining or discoloration, etc., and will rectify them.
Alternatives To Smoking
- Chew sugar-free gum. It helps deal with cravings and increases saliva production.
- Go for nicotine gum or patches. If you are addicted to nicotine-induced cigarettes, this will help you get rid of smoking. But won’t leave any harmful residues inside your mouth.
- Seek professional help. The best solution to smoking after-effects is not to smoke at all. Communities, support groups, and healthcare providers help smokers keep themselves motivated and quit smoking. They give you the tools, ideas, and approach to save yourself from smoking.
Hope this blog helps you answer the vital question of the hour: Does smoking affect your braces? And, how does smoking affect your braces? Smoking is never a healthy lifestyle to follow, regardless of whether you have braces or not. Smoking makes your mouth prone to bad breath, oral cancer, gum inflammation, staining on teeth, tartar buildup, and whatnot.
With braces, these problems just amplify themselves. Which, in turn, leads to severe periodontal issues and prolonged treatment time. Though many alternatives to smoking help you overcome your cravings. But the best solution is to quit the habit and lead a healthy oral lifestyle.
Does Smoking Affect Your Braces | Expert Orthodontic Advice
Dr. Bill Redmond is a native of Southern California, the son of an orthodontist and the husband of a general dentist. That makes family gatherings pretty interesting…if you like teeth!