smoking with braces

Smoking with Braces – What You Need to Know!

So, you’ve chosen to quit smoking and wear braces—a commendable decision! Both steps are significant strides towards a more vibrant, healthier smile. However, what happens when these two decisions intersect?

The Consequences of Smoking With Braces

When you smoke while sporting braces, you’re not only facing the typical hazards of smoking. You’re also potentially sabotaging your braces and obstructing your journey to a flawless smile. Let’s delve deeper into this.

Discoloration: The tar and nicotine in cigarettes are notorious for staining your teeth, but did you realize they could also tarnish your braces? Indeed, your aesthetically pleasing ceramic braces can take on an unattractive yellow or brown hue.

Smoking increases the risk of gum disease.

Delayed Healing Process

Nicotine impedes blood circulation, slowing down the healing process—an issue that is particularly concerning with braces, as your mouth is perpetually healing and adapting.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of gum disease, which can cause tooth loss and other serious dental problems.
– American Dental Association

Heightened Risk of Oral Complications

Smoking while wearing braces can escalate your risk of gum disease and oral cancer, and these risks surge if you already have gum disease when you get your braces. So, despite the allure of that cigarette, it’s wise to quit for the sake of your oral health.

Smoking with braces can be tricky because the brackets and wires can trap smoke particles and tar, causing tooth discoloration and bad breath. Therefore, it’s crucial for smokers with braces to uphold excellent oral hygiene. It’s vital to brush your teeth after every meal, including after smoking. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to thoroughly clean your teeth.

Smoking increases the risk of gum disease.

Focus on the areas around the brackets and wires as they often trap food particles and bacteria. Flossing is equally essential for maintaining good oral hygiene with braces. Use a floss threader to guide the floss under the wire and between the teeth.

This will aid in removing any trapped food particles and plaque. Using an antiseptic mouthwash can also help kill bacteria and freshen your breath. Rinse your mouth with mouthwash twice a day, after brushing and flossing.

Lastly, regular visits to your orthodontist for check-ups and adjustments are crucial. They can help monitor your oral health and make necessary adjustments to your braces. If you experience any discomfort or notice any problems with your braces, contact your orthodontist immediately.

Smoking can lead to bone loss in the jaw.

The Risks of Smoking While Wearing Braces

Smokers wearing braces have all the conventional dental risks of smokers, such as plaque accumulation and gum disease. However, they have the added issue of dental staining because of the brace anchors on the front of the teeth. Ultimately, this will ruin the final result of the braces.

Gum disease is not only bad for your health; it can also influence the effectiveness of the braces in aligning your teeth. Gum disease causes a reduction in bone density and softens the gums affecting dental alignment. Smoking while wearing braces might be considered counterintuitive.

Dental Staining and Discoloration

Although the enamel on our teeth is resilient and hard-wearing, it is ultimately a porous material that absorbs pigments from food, drink, and smoke throughout our daily lives. It is normal for teeth to discolor over time, but smoking accelerates dental staining and makes it permanent.  

Someone wearing braces should be extra careful about what they consume since dental staining can influence the final result of orthodontic treatment – think of a tan line when sunbathing. Avoid dental staining by avoiding substances like tobacco, coffee, and wine.

Smoking with braces can cause staining and discoloration of the brackets and wires.
– Colgate

woman smoking

Gum Health and Orthodontic Treatment

Before starting any orthodontic treatment plan, consult your orthodontist to determine if you’re a suitable candidate. An orthodontist will check your teeth and gums to ensure that any orthodontic treatment has the best positive outcome.

Braces and dental aligners rely on the strength of the gums, especially in the final stages of wearing braces when the gums need to be set in their new position. Someone smoking during treatment is likely to have weaker gums or gum disease that prevents the teeth from setting.

The Influence of Smoking on Orthodontic Treatments

Smoking not only harms the gums and disrupts teeth alignment during orthodontic treatments but also interferes with the treatment process itself. The special bonding agents orthodontists use can be weakened by cigarette smoke, which can delay the effectiveness of your braces or aligners.

Orthodontic treatment plans are meticulously strategized, ensuring the end results align with the patient’s dental health. However, smoking can undermine these plans by weakening the anchors, which hampers the effectiveness of wire-tightening phases and hinders teeth movement.

Braces as a Catalyst for Quitting Smoking

Smoking while wearing braces is counterproductive. It’s like rowing a boat upstream; your efforts for a better smile are being overshadowed by your smoking habit. This is particularly significant with braces, given the substantial investment of time and money they require. However, this could be the perfect opportunity to kick the habit.

Quitting smoking isn’t a walk in the park, but there are effective strategies based on your personality and the intensity of your addiction. Begin with lifestyle adjustments such as avoiding triggers and practicing mindfulness to manage cravings. Hypnotherapy may also be a viable option.

Remember, it’s okay to struggle while trying to quit smoking; everyone’s journey is unique. What works for one may not work for you, but rest assured, there’s a strategy out there that will resonate with you. Sometimes, replacing one habit with a healthier one, like fitness, can be the game-changer.

Maintaining Oral Hygiene with Braces While Smoking

While it’s best to completely abstain from smoking during orthodontic treatment, we understand it’s not feasible for everyone. If you’re caught in the grip of nicotine addiction, it’s crucial to manage it effectively to minimize staining and enhance treatment results.

Cigarette smoke can stain your retainers, particularly the clear ones. To combat this, adjust your dental hygiene practices to brush more frequently and soon after smoking. This helps reduce the time tar and nicotine stay on your teeth. You might also want to consider special toothpaste for enhanced cleaning.

Smoking can also cause damage to the enamel on your teeth, making them more susceptible to decay.
– Mayo Clinic

Talking to Your Orthodontist About Smoking

It’s not uncommon for patients who smoke to avoid discussing it with their orthodontist, even going as far as discreetly brushing their teeth before appointments. However, an open conversation about your smoking habit is crucial for successful treatment.

Your orthodontist isn’t there to judge you, but to help you. They can provide valuable advice on managing your habit during treatment or even suggest strategies for quitting. Without these discussions, your orthodontic treatment might not yield the desired results.


While it’s possible to smoke and wear braces simultaneously, it isn’t advisable. Smoking can stain your teeth yellow and leave marks where the brace anchor was secured. It can also weaken your gums, making it harder for your teeth to set properly.

If you’re a smoker contemplating orthodontic treatment, it’s important to consider these factors. Discussing your situation with a qualified orthodontist is a wise first step. Remember, smoking doesn’t disqualify you from dental treatment, but you should be aware of the potential risks and results.

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