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4 Ways to Restore Stained Teeth From Braces
by Dylan Hao |
You’ve spent the last few years or so heading to the orthodontist appointments and skipping your favorite chewy foods. Now, the big reveal is here, and your braces are off.
Your straight choppers and beautiful smile were worth every bit of the hassle.
But what are those white spots on your teeth?
When you have traditional braces or Invisalign removed, it’s common to see some areas where a few teeth look whiter than others.
The brackets on these oral appliances make some of the surfaces hard to reach. Over the lengthy time your braces are on, these spots become stained or discolored.
The good news is that those stains don’t have to be there forever.
You can enjoy the smile you were envisioning every time you said no to chewing on things like popcorn, gum, and caramels (and maybe even that pen cap habit you had). All you need are these simple tips and a little patience!
We’re going to walk you through the causes of discoloration and then give you the information you need to restore your pearly whites.
What Causes the Discoloration Under Your Braces?
We clean our teeth every day to prevent the buildup of plaque, a sticky film that gets in our mouths and adheres to the enamel with everything we eat and drink. It’s hard to dig in and get the plaque out of all the nooks and crannies in our teeth, especially behind the wires and braces.
Over time, the plaque becomes brown or yellow tartar (thickened calculus). Tartar erodes the enamel and causes demineralization, leaving white spots and, if not treated, causing cavities.
It’s not simply a superficial surface issue. The lack of minerals means your enamel is more prone to tooth decay and gradual root exposure, which turns into serious pain and eventual tooth loss.
So, not only do you need to take care of those splotches, but you must address the problem at the, ahem, root by keeping your daily oral hygiene routine on point and getting regular dental care.
As far as the visible spots, we’ve put together a few options to help you get your newly straightened teeth nice and evenly white, too
A Fix: Try a Teeth Whitening Product
You spent a lot of time and money on your orthodontic treatment. Understandably, you want to show off the results, but without those spots from your braces detracting from the effect.
Depending on the severity of the discoloration, the fix could be as simple as an over-the-counter or professional whitening product. You have multiple options available, so you should be able to find one that fits your budget and lifestyle.
OTC Products for Light Surface Stains
The easiest way to start is with a whitening toothpaste or whitening strips, available over the counter. OTC products are effective at removing surface stains from teeth, but they won’t get rid of stubborn, deep-set, or intrinsic stains.
These, as well as any whitening product, usually have a bleaching agent in them, like hydrogen or carbamide peroxide.
The chemicals are safe if they’re within the right levels and made from good quality ingredients — and if you use them as directed. However, they can harm your mouth's enamel and soft tissue if any of these factors are not present.
Use products with the American Dental Association seal on them to ensure what you’re putting in your mouth has high-quality ingredients at safe levels, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Stronger Whitening Treatments
When you need something stronger than the typical OTC whiteners, you can try gel trays and whitening kits. These often come with a special LED light that enhances the bleaching process.
The light helps the peroxide break down faster, which forms free radicals that whiten your teeth by eliminating the staining molecules. If your white spots are resistant to the typical OTC products, a kit may do the trick.
These are advertised everywhere, but they’re not all created equal. Before you buy a kit, check the concentration of bleach to ensure it isn’t more than 10%. One-size-fits-all trays and strips are a concern, as well. These aren’t designed to fit your teeth properly, so the bleaching agent gets on your gums and irritates them.
For the best results, use a custom whitening kit like those from JS Dental Lab. These are made from an impression of your teeth, so they cover all the angles and crevices of your enamel, not the soft tissue.
Fast, Optimal Whitening Options
Regardless of which at-home method you use, it can take a few days or weeks to get the optimal results safely.
But you’re not out of luck when you have a special event around the corner and need whiter teeth fast. You can check with your dental office and ask about receiving a professional in-office whitening treatment. It’s possible to get the results you need with one treatment, but it can be expensive to go this route.
If you want a middle ground with the best possible whitening products without the pricey dental visit, JS Dental Lab’s custom trays are the way to go. You can have your unique kit shipped, molded, and in your mouth within days of your order.
Because JS Dental Lab only uses the highest quality, professional-grade ingredients, you get the fast results of an in-office treatment from the comfort of your home. And you skip the dentist’s visit, making it more affordable to whiten your teeth professionally.
Consider Composite Restoration or Veneers
When a couple of your teeth are too stained for a whitening treatment, cosmetic dentistry offers two popular procedures: composite restoration and veneers.
Both procedures cover the stains, but they are distinctly different.
Dental composite restoration is when the dentist uses a tooth-colored resin, which works similarly to caulk, to cover cracks, chips, and dental decay. The resin is smoothed across the surface, where it bonds to the enamel and dentin for long-term coverage.
With composite resin treatments, the changes blend in with your natural teeth. However, if you eat or drink foods and beverages that have staining ingredients in them, the stains can absorb into the resin, and it will become discolored over time.
Dental veneers produce the same type of result as composite resin. Instead of a caulk-like substance, these are extremely thin shells that bond to your tooth’s surface.
There are two main types of materials used to make veneers: composite resin and porcelain. Both are durable and stain-resistant, but porcelain will last longer and are more resistant to discoloration than composite resin varieties. If you drink a lot of sugary beverages, coffee, tea, red wine, or dark soda, or you have a tobacco or other unhealthy habit, porcelain is the better option.
The dentist will judge the color of the rest of your teeth and create a shell that matches the shades. Then, they carefully shave a thin layer of enamel off of the tooth getting at the veneer, and “glue” the shell to the shaved area.
The finished product is a natural-looking tooth that blends in with your newly aligned smile and will last years.
Fix the Damage With Remineralization
The options above are great ways to cover or get rid of the braces' stains, but they don’t fix the problem of weak enamel and tooth decay.
As we mentioned earlier, enamel weakens and decays due to a process called demineralization. This is common with braces because brushing and flossing don’t always get in behind the wires and brackets, and plaque buildup occurs.
Yes, the white spots left behind are annoying, but demineralization has to be addressed before it turns into dental caries (cavities) and weak enamel. Enamel doesn’t grow back, so you must stop the destructive process as soon as possible.
Understanding Demineralization (and How to Fix It)
When the minerals in your teeth begin to wear away, it’s a warning that tooth decay is around the corner. Enamel is harder than bone because it has a high mineral content.
Yet, if the minerals are exposed to things like plaque for a long time, like the length of your braces journey, they begin to break down. Without strong enamel, your inner layers of dentin and root are exposed, which becomes painful.
Tips to Strengthen Your Enamel
What’s already damaged is damaged, but you can strengthen the rest of your enamel to keep it healthy through remineralization.
Your body is an amazing and dynamic organism. The biological tissues that make up your teeth include enamel, dentin, cementum, and bone. As minerals deposit themselves into these areas, they adhere to the enamel that remains and strengthen it.
You can help encourage the remineralization of your enamel by:
- Having a good oral health routine that includes brushing twice a day (at least) and flossing
- Visiting the dentist for routine checkups and cleanings
- Using fluoride toothpaste
- Reducing acidic and sugary foods and drinks from your diet
- Taking vitamins, supplements, and probiotics that help strengthen enamel, such as calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorous
Cutting-edge remineralization technologies in dentistry are available in some offices. These technologies use inorganic materials that mimic the teeth and bone, encouraging the repair of damaged tissues and speeding up the process of remineralization.
Ask About Microabrasion
The outer layer of enamel is thicker than you might think. If you get rid of the initial layer where the white spots are using enamel microabrasion, the problem of discoloration is solved. It’s more of a preventative treatment option designed to remove damage early before it can turn into tooth decay.
The technique uses acidic and abrasive agents to alter the tooth’s surface. It works well for enamel with minimal damage that’s hardly noticeable. The microabrasion agents are rubbed against the tooth’s surface, removing the damaged layer and leaving healthy enamel behind.
Microabrasion doesn’t work if there are deeper or intrinsic stains. However, if you can catch the problem early, the technique is minimally invasive, safe, effective, and long-lasting.
Related: How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?
Still Have Your Braces On? Avoid the Stains With These Tips
Maybe you’re here because you heard about the dreaded white spots after braces are removed, and you want to avoid getting this tooth discoloration.
If so, you’re in luck!
There are a few things you can do to ensure your teeth get the minerals and cleaning they need to stay healthy underneath the braces equipment.
Tips to Prevent Stained Teeth From Braces
Start by following your orthodontist’s instructions on proper dental and brace cleaning techniques at home. They may suggest using an electric toothbrush, flosser, water pic, or a floss threader. This equipment gets into the areas that regular brushing and flossing miss and removes leftover food particles.
Make sure you have regular dental cleanings. Many people think that a trip to the orthodontist replaces their dental visits, but those professional cleanings can take care of the plaque buildup you miss on the tooth enamel below the braces.
The dentist can watch for potential problems during your exam, and offer suggestions to prevent demineralization and other issues.
Finally, focus on your diet. Take the vitamins and minerals we discussed above that are necessary for strong enamel and bones, including fluoride. Eat a healthy diet that avoids foods that stain and drink.
Your braces are still on, so you have time! But the sooner you get started, the less damage you’ll have when your orthodontics are removed.
You care about your smile, which is why you had braces in the first place. Good oral hygiene is the number one way to keep your teeth healthy, yet this is sometimes hard to accomplish in the areas under the wires and brackets of your braces.
If you already have or want to prevent the dreaded post-brace white spots, follow these tips. Caring for your body through vitamins and a healthy diet and using custom whitening kits from JS Dental Lab should help you add the adjective “dazzling” to your newly even smile! Try it for $1 today!