Is Smoking After Fluoride Treatment Forbidden?

Written, Edited, and Reviewed by Dr David Chen.

So what is the general consensus about smoking after fluoride treatment? We all know that tobacco is bad for your health and you may end up with lung cancer but is that the only reason why?

picture of pipes

Does it actually interfere with fluoride strengthening our teeth or you’re just trying to get us to stop smoking? We’re here to give you the full truth and not a half-truth about the effects that smoking has on fluoride treatment.

Unfortunately the answer isn’t quite as straightforward as you may have expected.

Instructions from fluoride treatment manufacturers

We wish we could give you an easy answer to not smoke after getting fluoride because the instructions say so. However from all of the fluoride varnish manufacturers which we examined, have no mention about smoking in the instructions at all.

You can comb through all of the instructions but we already did it for you. They don’t say anything about whether you can smoke or not after the application of the fluoride.

Since we’re unable to get our answer directly through them, we will look towards scientific studies. Perhaps we’ll have some better luck there.

What about different types of fluoridated treatment?

We also took a look at APF fluoride gels, which are different from the varnish. The varnish applies a sticky gel that stays on your teeth while the APF uses a foaming gel in a tray that is applied to your teeth.

Unfortunately, the APF version of it does not mention anything about smoking either. Perhaps it is not a very common question?

Smoking may increase risk of fluoride toxicity

Smoking can lead to increased urinary levels of fluoride and that may increase your risk of fluoride toxicity. Higher levels of fluoride in your urine means that your kidneys aren’t doing their job properly of excreting them. More fluoride floating around your system will inch you closer to fluoride toxicity.

Fluorine

This was demonstrated in a study about the effects of smoking and drinking tea on urinary fluoride levels.

  • Both smoking and tea consumption will lead to higher levels of fluoride.
  • However, a combination of smoking and drinking tea has a synergistic effect that worsens it by leading to even higher levels of fluoride.

The conclusion of that study was that the fluoride never approached dangerous levels. However they did caution those who were already taking in fluoride via other means. For example, if you were taking fluoride supplements you may want to be cognizant of the total amount of fluoride that you’re getting into your system.

The smoking may potentially push you a bit too close to the toxic fluoride level if you’re getting fluoride treatment. Perhaps it may not be a good idea to get it if you smoke and you already have alternative sources of it in your diet.

All of this information was confirmed in an anesthesia study that used enflurane, an anesthesia that contains fluoride.

  • Smokers had an elevated level of inorganic fluoride in their serum.
  • The study did note that renal functions were not damaged nor harmed due to the increased levels of the inorganic mineral. That is at least one piece of good news.

Basically if you smoke, you don’t process the fluoride as well and you run the risk of toxicity.

Does it apply to regular toothpaste with fluoride?

You may be wondering if the above two rules also apply to regular fluoridated toothpaste. Unfortunately there are no instructions in regards to tobacco for toothpaste.

However we know that a lot of people smoke. Some smoke before they brush, some smoke afterwards, and the chainsmokers do so for both!

The difference is that for the toothpaste, it leaves no sticky film on your teeth. It is also significantly less concentrated than the varnish so you don’t have any toxicity issues.

  • Varnish comes in 5% sodium fluoride.
  • Toothpaste is 0.25% sodium fluoride.

Basically the treatment at your dentist is about 20x more concentrated and that brings you closer to toxic levels. Still short of it but nonetheless, much closer than toothpaste.

Smoking may decrease fluoride’s topical benefit

None of the instructions on any of the fluoride products may have mentioned smoking but they did say something about avoiding hot beverages. Cool or room temperature beverages were permitted but you weren’t allowed to drink hot coffee immediately after treatment.

No explanation was given as to why hot was not permitted but cool was.

The only reason which we can think of is that for fluoride varnish treatment, it forms a sticky film over your teeth. Then you’re not supposed to eat or drink for 2-6 hours depending on the instructions in order to let the fluoride absorb into the teeth. Leaving it undisturbed will let you maximize the intake of the tooth strengthening mineral.

duraflor ultra - fluoride varnish box

Hot liquids may melt that sticky film which is on your teeth. That would undo everything that you’re trying to accomplish. If the film melts off too early, your teeth won’t get the amount of fluoride that it was supposed to go.

After all, it is a topical treatment which means that it works by being in physical contact with the tooth. If you prevent the material from being on your teeth, you won’t receive any of the benefits.

Ultimately you shouldn’t smoke right after because the heat from the smoke may interfere with the sticky film. In other words, you’ll be decreasing the benefit that you may get from it if you do.

So, can you smoke after fluoride?

Overall you should not be smoking after fluoride treatment. The heat from the tobacco may interfere with the varnish from staying on your teeth. That will make the treatment less effective and you would’ve wasted your money getting it. Therefore in order to maximize the value you get out of it, you should refrain from smoking for about 4 hours.

If that wasn’t enough persuasion for you, studies have shown that smoking leads to higher levels of urinary fluoride. That means your body isn’t excreting it properly and that increases the risk of you becoming intoxicated with fluoride from excessive intake.

However there were no dangers that were reported from the studies since the levels never got high enough from it. Nonetheless, they did caution that if you were getting other sources of fluoride in your diet, you should be careful.

Perhaps if you smoke, getting additional fluoride may not be the best course of treatment for you.

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Our purpose at afterva, is to encourage you to seek in person care with a doctor. It's not meant to be a substitute for medical advice. Each situation is unique and that makes it impossible to diagnose and treat without a clinical exam.

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