The glorious day has arrived, and it’s time to have your braces removed! But what if, when you look in the mirror, you see that your newly aligned teeth are stained or dotted with white spots? No doubt, after all that time hoping for the perfect post-braces smile, teeth discoloration causes concern and disappointment.
Great news: those braces stains can be treated and removed. With careful maintenance before and during your braces-wearing phase, you can even help prevent stains.
This blog will cover what causes discoloration of the teeth and how to get rid of and prevent braces stains.
What Causes Teeth Discoloration and Stains after Wearing Braces?
Plaque is that sticky, bacteria-laden residue that builds up on your teeth as you eat. It is removed by brushing and flossing regularly. But with braces, it’s not so simple.
Your braces’ wires and brackets form little nooks and crannies that capture bits of whatever you’ve eaten. As a result, it is harder to brush away the plaque behind and around the hardware. What remains becomes hardened, yellowish tartar that demineralizes and stains your teeth.
Demineralization and White Spot Lesions
Your tooth enamel contains minerals—calcium, phosphate, and fluoride—constantly gained and lost. Sugar and the acids in plaque reduce minerals (demineralize), while water and certain foods replace them (remineralize). If plaque is not cleaned away, demineralization flourishes, causing white spot lesions and stains.
White spot lesions are small white dots that appear lighter than your normal enamel. Studies suggest that between 30 and 70 percent of people undergoing orthodontic treatments such as braces get white spot lesions.
Getting Rid of Braces Stains on Your Teeth
There are quite a few options for eliminating stains. Your orthodontist will help you determine which will work best for you.
Calcium and phosphate are vital to the structure of your tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. Therefore, you’ll want to get those back!
A combination of actions can help replenish the minerals your teeth need.
- Brush your teeth frequently.
- Limit fruit and dairy, eliminate sugar, and add vitamins and probiotics.
- Use fluoride toothpaste, eat less starchy food, and drink more water.
Your saliva is a significant player in remineralization. It connects fluoride, calcium, and phosphate to your teeth’s surfaces. In addition, its antibacterial properties help keep your mouth clean.
Your saliva needs a pH of 5.6 or higher. When you eat or drink, that pH level drops, and your teeth demineralize until pH returns to 5.6. You can help maintain the ideal pH level by limiting how often you snack, brushing and flossing, chewing sugar-free gum to increase saliva, and rinsing with water after you eat.
#2: Teeth Whitening
Whitening products are abundant—strips, toothpaste, gels, and mouthwashes—available in stores. These may work well for you. Your orthodontist can offer more powerful treatments that can handle the more severe stains and that work faster. Bleaching and other substances whiten your teeth while you’re still wearing your braces or after they are removed.
#3: Composite Restoration
Composite restoration, such as bonding, fillings, bridges, inlays, and veneers, uses synthetic resins matching your tooth color to bond to your teeth and restores damaged areas. Some of them address stains, like veneers, for example, which cover the stained tooth surface.
With microabrasion, your general dentist uses a mix of abrasive materials to physically sand off the surface layer of enamel along with the embedded stain. Abrasive ingredients may include hydrochloric acid, pumice, silica carbide particles, and phosphoric acid. This technique produces immediate results with a slight loss of enamel. Some orthodontists follow up with a bleaching treatment.
How to Prevent Discoloration and Braces Stains
There are several things you and your orthodontist can do to prevent discoloration and stains. Regular brushing and flossing are always important. Using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes, rinsing vigorously with water, and visiting your orthodontist for checkups and cleanings round out a good prevention program. Your general dentist may also add a sealant before your orthodontist places your braces to help protect your teeth.
For white spot lesions, studies published between 2004 and 2011 suggest that using topical fluoride, along with fluoride toothpaste, is effective in preventing the spots.
#1: Proper Brushing and Flossing
Brushing and flossing are always in the prevention toolbox. But as we mentioned earlier, they can be difficult with braces. Your orthodontist may recommend a special toothbrush—an interproximal brush—that reaches and removes those elusive bits of food that get caught within your braces. To help you floss, you can use a floss threader for better reach.
#2: Routine Checkups
While you are taking all possible steps to prevent stains and white spot lesions, your orthodontist is also doing their part. Problems can be detected and treated through a series of checkups and cleanings early before conditions get worse and harder to reverse. So make your appointments and keep them!
The list of foods to avoid when you have braces can seem frighteningly long. But all you’re doing is lowering the chances of clogging or damaging your braces. In addition, you are maintaining a favorable environment in your mouth to prevent a build-up of the stain-causing acids and bacteria.
It’s best to brush and floss after eating. But if you’re away from home and cannot do that right away, even rinsing with water can reduce plaque and bacteria.
Schedule your COMPLIMENTARY Consultation!
Keeping your teeth safe from white spot lesions and stains after removing braces is a joint effort between you and your orthodontist. Your role is to put extra effort into your maintenance routine while your braces are still on and after they are gone. Your orthodontist will develop recommendations and select the best professional treatments.
With a little extra effort and your orthodontist’s care, you will have the promised beautiful teeth after enduring braces with stains. So be confident, and share that new smile with the world!
Are you ready to discuss more on dental discoloration with an orthodontist? Do not hesitate to schedule a complimentary consultation at Loudoun Orthodontics! In the meantime, make sure to check out our blog for more information on orthodontic treatments.