How Does Smoking Affect Invisalign?

By Rafael Mercado, DDS on February 25, 2020

Invisalign is a popular treatment that can discreetly straighten the teeth. If you are a smoker and planning to undergo orthodontic treatment using Invisalign at our San Antonio, TX, dental practice, it is in your best interest to quit smoking. Regular tobacco use is linked to a range of oral health problems, including oral cancer and reduced jawbone density. In addition to these health problems, smoking leads to aligner tray staining.

The best solution is to refrain from using tobacco products altogether. If this is not an option, certain steps can be taken to mitigate the harmful effects of smoking and using tobacco products.

What Are the Risks of Smoking When Using Invisalign?

Tobacco use can prolong healing after many dental procedures. The chemicals found in cigarettes have been shown to lower jawbone density and inhibit the immune system. This is one reason why patients are generally asked to quit smoking before and for a period after oral surgery.

Tobacco use poses unique problems for Invisalign treatments, although some of these problems can be mitigated by taking certain steps that are listed in this blog post. The main problem our San Antonio patients experience when undergoing Invisalign treatments while smoking is discoloration of their aligner trays.

One of the main benefits of Invisalign treatment is that the orthodontic option is discreet. Unlike metal braces, most people will not be able to tell when you are wearing your aligner trays. This is because Invisalign’s patented SmartTrack material is invisible when it is properly cleaned.

Individuals who use tobacco products have saliva that absorbs tobacco particles. These particles seep into the aligner trays and, over time, create a dark-colored layer of film that can be hard to remove. The results can leave your teeth looking yellow, brown, and dark in color. Buildup along your aligner tray can even discolor enamel. Beyond being unattractive, this build-up can actually increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Steps should be taken to prevent the buildup of tobacco products on your teeth and gums. The American Dental Association discourages the use of all nicotine products due to the potentially damaging effects they cause.

Tips for Preventing and Reducing Tobacco-related Discoloration

Light and social smokers can take steps to prevent and reduce tobacco-related discoloration of their aligner trays. Heavy smokers may need to consider alternative orthodontic options. Dr. Rafael Mercado can advise you of your options during your consultation at our San Antonio dental practice.

Invisalign trays are removable, so smokers should remove the aligner trays when smoking. Timing your smoking breaks for meal times can help you avoid removing your trays too many times throughout the day. If possible, brushing your teeth or at least rinsing out your mouth after smoking can remove tobacco particles before they build up inside your aligner trays.

Other tips for keeping your aligner trays clean include:

  • Cleaning your trays using lukewarm water and a soft-bristled toothbrush on a daily basis
  • Avoiding the consumption of dark-colored beverages when your trays are in place
  • Frequently brushing your teeth to remove buildup and plaque
  • Cutting back or eliminating tobacco use when wearing aligner trays

If you do suffer from stains caused by tobacco products, our office offers safe and effective teeth whitening treatments that can brighten your teeth by several shades.

Schedule Your Invisalign Treatment Today

Small steps can make a big difference during your Invisalign treatment. Tobacco use is generally not a barrier to Invisalign treatments, although heavy smokers may benefit from alternative options. Dr. Mercado will be glad to advise you accordingly during your orthodontic consultation at our San Antonio dental practice. To schedule your Invisalign consultation, please contact our office online or call (210) 405-1257.