The day braces come off is usually an exciting one—our patients finally get to see the beautifully aligned smile they’ve patiently worked to achieve through their months of treatment. When they have a smile they’re excited to show to the world, we often find that they want to make it even better with a whitening treatment. After all, having a straight smile goes hand in hand with having a white, bright one as well.
Frequently, those seeking orthodontics have been warned that their teeth might become stained or develop white spots from demineralization as a result of having braces. In fact, that doesn’t need to happen at all. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your teeth clean and bright both during and after your treatment with braces.
Why Tooth Discoloration Happens
Everybody’s teeth develop plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria, after eating or drinking. If this plaque isn’t cleaned away, it can turn into tartar, a thickened calculus that tends to be yellow or brownish in color. Tartar, over time, can cause demineralization of the teeth, which eats away at the tooth enamel, leading to white spots and possibly even cavities (if left untreated).
So why do braces get a bad rap? Braces make it harder to avoid the progression of plaque turning into tartar because it is more difficult to fully clean plaque from the teeth when you’re wearing them. Plaque commonly builds up behind the wire and around the brackets unless particular care is taken with oral hygiene. This is why any orthodontist will emphasize the need to follow a regular routine of brushing and flossing while you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Dental hygiene is extremely important while you’re wearing braces, even if it is a little trickier. First, you should brush your teeth regularly with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. At minimum, everybody should brush their teeth twice daily, but when you have braces, it’s better to brush after every meal if possible. If you find you’re having trouble removing all the plaque around your brackets, consider getting an electric toothbrush with an orthodontic head, which will help remove it more efficiently.
If you’re not able to brush after a meal or snack, rinse your mouth with water to remove food particles from your teeth and braces. You should also rinse with water or a fluoride rinse after you’ve brushed. Finally, you should floss your teeth every day. A floss threader will help you get under the wire to floss effectively. Though it might be tempting to skip this step, research shows that flossing and brushing together are much more effective at reducing plaque than brushing alone, so it’s worth the extra moments to keep your teeth healthy and clean.
It’s best to avoid sugary or starchy foods, which can contribute to plaque formation, as well as sticky, crunchy, or hard foods that could get caught in or break your braces. And don’t forget to keep your regular schedule of dental cleanings and checkups, so a professional can remove any tartar that has formed.
At B Orthodontics, we want to make sure our patients have the tools they need to keep their teeth healthy and beautiful during treatment. This is why we offer an electric toothbrush, a Waterpik, or whitening as a free gift for anybody starting a full treatment case with us.
If there are stains or white spots on your teeth, you shouldn’t panic. There are many options for restoring the appearance of your teeth, depending on your circumstances. For example, white spots can be treated with Icon resin infiltration, a minimally invasive procedure that is safe for kids and adults, which takes about an hour in the office. In severe cases, a dental professional might recommend composite restoration, microabrasion (sanding off the top layer of discolored enamel), or veneers, but this is rare.
If some demineralization has occurred, regular brushing, cutting out sugar, reducing fruit and dairy intake, and taking vitamin and probiotic supplements can help remineralize your teeth and reduce the appearance of white spots. While it’s not possible to grow back enamel that has been lost, this routine will strengthen the enamel you still have.
To reduce or eliminate staining and discoloration, there are many kinds of teeth whitening products, from toothpastes to professional strength in-office procedures. The professional whitening we offer at B Orthodontics whitens teeth from the inside out, so it’s actually safe to use during orthodontic treatment. Of course, professional whitening also makes a great wrap-up step when you’re done with braces and ready to introduce your new smile to the world, so many of our patients like to schedule whitening as the perfect finishing touch.
Comprehensive Smile Care
At B Orthodontics, nothing gives us more satisfaction then seeing how thrilled our patients are with the results of their treatment. We offer professional teeth whitening in addition to our full complement of orthodontic modalities to ensure your teeth are bright and beautiful as well as perfectly aligned. To find out more about our teeth whitening services, contact us here.