Can a dentist tell if you smoke?

Smoking can be seriously detrimental to not only your physical health but to your oral health too, cigarettes and other forms of nicotine or tobacco can affect your teeth and gums in various forms, and a dentist will be able to tell you are a smoker due to these forms. The typical signs include nicotine stains on your teeth as well plaqueA soft sticky substance that accumulates on teeth composed largely of bacteria and bacterial derivatives. and tartar buildup.

Which visual indicators show a dentist I’m smoking?

The following indicators will signal to your dentist that you’re a smoker. 

Yellow Teeth (Nicotine staining)

Just like your skin contains pores, your teeth have them too, and the pores absorb everything you consume by eating, drinking, or smoking. Nicotine and tar contain chemicals which allow them to stain quickly and easily, which is why you see smoke absorb into walls for instance.

When nicotine is mixed with the saliva in your mouth, it can cause your teeth to develop yellow or brown stains. Once developed, these stains make their way into the enamelHard calcified tissue covering dentin of the crown of tooth. on your teeth which makes them tough to remove. Once the enamel is stained, commercially available whitening products aren’t enough to remove them. You’d need to consult your dentist about professional teeth whitening.

Plaque and Tartar Buildups

The chemicals that are found in tobacco products affect the way that saliva courses through your mouth. Arguably, one of the key functions of your saliva is to protect your enamel and the prevention of tooth decayThe lay term for carious lesions in a tooth; decomposition of tooth structure..

So when the flow of your saliva is altered or changed due to tobacco, the helpful proteins and minerals contained in your saliva cannot perform their function as effectively, which means that plaque will build up in your teeth as a consequence. When plaque has built up in excess and calcifies as a result, it’s called tartar.

How can I improve my oral health as a smoker?

If you’re a smoker, it’s not too late to start improving your oral health. Here are some essential tips that you can start implementing today:

  • Drink plenty of water! Water has physical health benefits but it also keeps you hydrated. 
  • Brush twice a day for two minutes, and use mouthwash after meals, this will help to keep bacteria under control.
  • If you chew chewing gum for your breath, use sugar-free forms, or mints, as sugar can cause issues with tooth decay. 
  • Visit your dental hygienist on a regular basis to make sure that if there are any issues that have been caused by smoking, it can be detected early and a treatment plan can be put together.