If you’re getting braces and are a smoker, you’re probably wondering whether or not you can smoke when you’ve had your braces put on.
While, technically, you can smoke with braces, it’s not recommended by dentists and orthodontists.
Smoking affects your health in many ways and cigarettes can cause damage to your teeth, but read on to learn more.
Smoking and Braces: Key Concerns
Smoking is a well-known risk factor for various oral health problems. The harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, bad breath, and even oral cancer.
Combined with braces, these risks are heightened due to the increased difficulty of maintaining proper oral hygiene.
Smoking can cause a number of problems during orthodontic treatment. These include:
- Discoloration and staining: The tar and nicotine in cigarette smoke can easily stain the brackets and elastics of your braces, resulting in an unsightly appearance that may last for the duration of your treatment. This can be particularly frustrating for those who have opted for clear or ceramic braces in the hopes of a more discreet look.
- Slower healing and increased risk of infection: Smoking impairs blood flow and reduces the amount of oxygen available to tissues, which can hinder the healing process. This is crucial during orthodontic treatment, as tooth movement relies on a healthy healing response. Additionally, the increased risk of infection can result in complications such as gum inflammation and periodontal problems.
- Prolonged treatment time: The negative effects of smoking on oral health and healing can interfere with tooth movement, resulting in a longer treatment period. This not only extends the amount of time you must wear braces but also increases the overall cost of treatment.
Alternatives to Traditional Smoking
If you’re struggling with the idea of quitting smoking completely when getting braces, you may consider exploring some alternatives.
While it’s important to note that no smoking alternative is without risk, some options may be less harmful than traditional cigarettes.
Always consult your orthodontist before using any alternative products during your orthodontic treatment.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): This includes products such as nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, and inhalers, which help to curb cravings by delivering small amounts of nicotine without the harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke..
Smokeless tobacco alternatives: These options, such as snus and nicotine pouches, are placed between the gum and cheek, allowing nicotine to be absorbed through the oral mucosa. Although these products don’t produce smoke, they still carry risks, including gum irritation and oral cancer.
Electronic cigarettes and vaping: E-cigarettes and vaporizers deliver nicotine through a heated liquid solution, creating a vapor that is inhaled. While these products may expose users to fewer harmful chemicals than traditional cigarettes, research on their long-term safety is still limited, and some studies have linked vaping to gum inflammation and other oral health issues.
Tips for Quitting Smoking Before Getting Braces
Quitting smoking is crucial for ensuring the success of your orthodontic treatment and maintaining good oral health.
By stopping smoking before getting braces, you can minimize the risk of complications and achieve the best possible results.
Here are our recommended strategies for success:
- Set a quit date: Choose a specific day to quit smoking and stick to it. This can provide a sense of commitment and help you mentally prepare for the challenge ahead. Share your quit date with friends and family for added support and accountability.
- Seek professional help: Speak with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, dentist, or therapist, about your plans to quit smoking. They can guide the best quitting methods, prescribe medications to aid in the process, and monitor your progress.
- Utilize support groups: Join a smoking cessation support group, either in-person or online, to connect with others facing similar challenges. Sharing experiences, tips, and encouragement can be invaluable in your journey to quit smoking.
- Consider nicotine replacement therapy or other smoking cessation aids: As mentioned earlier, nicotine replacement therapy can help curb cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms. Other smoking cessation aids, such as prescription medications like Chantix or Zyban, can also be beneficial. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.
- Identify triggers and develop coping strategies: Recognize the situations, places, or emotions that trigger your urge to smoke, and develop alternative coping strategies. For example, if stress is a trigger, consider practicing deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in physical activity to help manage stress.
- Stay active: Regular physical activity can help reduce cravings and improve your overall well-being. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine, whether it’s walking, jogging, swimming, or attending fitness classes.
- Reward yourself: Set milestones during your quitting journey and reward yourself for reaching them. This can help maintain motivation and serve as a reminder of your progress.
Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene with Braces
Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial during orthodontic treatment, regardless of whether you smoke or not.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Be thorough, taking care to clean around brackets and wires. Floss daily, using a floss threader or orthodontic floss to navigate around braces.
Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings every six months, or more frequently if recommended by your dentist or orthodontist. These visits help detect and address any issues early on, ensuring that your orthodontic treatment stays on track.
Remember that certain foods can damage your braces or increase your risk of tooth decay. Avoid hard, crunchy, sticky, or chewy foods like popcorn, candies, gum, and caramel. Additionally, limit your intake of sugary and acidic foods and beverages, which can contribute to tooth decay and enamel erosion.
In conclusion, it is strongly advised against smoking while wearing braces due to the increased risks to your oral health and potential complications during treatment.
By quitting smoking before getting braces and maintaining good oral hygiene throughout the treatment process, you can ensure a successful and healthy orthodontic experience.
Prioritize your oral health, make the necessary lifestyle changes, and take the first steps towards a beautiful, confident smile.
Remember, the long-term benefits of a healthy, attractive smile far outweigh the short-term challenges of quitting smoking and adapting to life with braces.