If you've recently quit smoking, you may be looking for ways to reverse the changes cigarettes have made to your health and appearance. Because your mouth is the first place cigarette smoke enters your body, it often suffers the worst damage from smoking -- from bad breath to discolored teeth or receding gum tissue. Fortunately, most of these problems can be improved or even fully resolved by a cosmetic dentist. Read on to learn more about the most common types of damage from smoking, as well as what you can do to reverse these problems.
What dental damage can be caused by smoking?
The tar and carcinogens in cigarette smoke can stain your teeth relatively quickly, even if you're careful about brushing and flossing. You may also notice small white sores forming on your gums or the inside of your lips. Over time, tissue regularly exposed to nicotine will die off -- so your gums and lips become weaker and less resistant to abrasions or infection. As your gum tissue begins to lose the ability to quickly regenerate itself, you may notice that more of your teeth appear to be exposed as your gums recede away from their contact point at the tooth.
Even (and especially) if you're still smoking occasionally, you should ensure that you have regular dental checkups. In many cases, your dentist will be the first one able to identify and help correct potential problem areas. Although your dentist will always recommend that you stop smoking, he or she will continue to treat you with the same care and respect as all other patients.
What procedures are available to reverse this damage?
Cosmetic dentistry has benefited from several recent technology advances allowing correction of even severe smoking-related dental issues.
- Teeth whitening
In many cases, the discoloration associated with smoking can be reversed relatively easily through laser bleaching. During a laser bleaching session, a hydrogen peroxide mixture will be applied to your teeth. You'll then be outfitted with special glasses as a laser sends targeted pulses of light onto this peroxide, allowing each molecule to penetrate through the enamel and whiten the surrounding area without weakening the tooth. You should notice some instant effects at your visit, and then a gradual whitening over the next several days.
- Dental veneers
If years of smoking have damaged your enamel so much that laser bleaching won't help, dental veneers may be an option. Like crowns, these veneers are applied over the surface of your teeth -- however, veneers are much thinner and lighter than crowns. You'll generally have veneers applied in a single procedure at your dentist's office. After numbing your gums, the dentist will finely grind the natural surface of your tooth to provide a good bonding surface. He or she will then apply the custom-fitted veneer over your tooth and bind it with dental cement or another agent. After the numbness has worn off a few hours after your visit, you should be able to eat, drink, and chew as normal.
- Treatments for receding gums
Although the prospect of receding gums can be a frightening one, in many cases this problem can be treated or stopped merely by a dental deep-cleaning. When bacteria are eliminated from the pockets of tissue formed by nicotine exposure, your gums have time to heal and regenerate new tissue. If you schedule frequent and regular deep-cleanings, you should notice an improvement in the appearance of your teeth and gums fairly quickly.
If your gums have already receded a significant amount, this issue can be resolved with a relatively minor gum surgery. Your dentist will either pull down excess gum tissue from the pockets created by nicotine damage, or will graft some gum tissue onto your own to help it regrow. Either procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis and is often covered by your primary healthcare policy. View sites like http://www.davidjacksondds.com to explore options.