Braces are a common treatment for straightening misaligned teeth. Unfortunately, sometimes releasing your teeth from braces can reveal more than straightened teeth. You might find there’s also discoloration.
It’s more difficult to fully clean the plaque off your teeth when you’re wearing braces. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth following eating or drinking. Plaque buildup is common behind the braces’ wire and around the brackets, which adhere to the teeth.
Eventually, this plaque may turn into thickened calculus, or tartar, which can have a brownish or yellowed color. Often, teeth affected by tartar or calculus can cause demineralization. Demineralization can eat away at tooth enamel and often leaves white spots. If untreated, it can cause a cavity.
It is possible to prevent staining and demineralization caused by braces. If you’re wearing an orthodontic device, following a regular teeth-cleaning regimen can cut your risks of tooth discoloration. Yet if you’ve just gotten your braces off and you see staining, it’s still possible to fade or remove it. Demineralization is a more serious type of discoloration, but it’s also treatable and possible to stop before it turns into a cavity.
Naturally, your teeth develop plaque following eating and drinking. Plaque contains bacteria, and when it builds upon the teeth, it can cause brownish or yellow discoloration. The best way to remove the plaque from teeth is to brush and floss between the teeth every day. Regular checkups and cleanings at the dentist are also important.
Over time, built-up plaque may begin to demineralize the teeth. This can happen after eating foods that contain sugar, which cause the bacteria in the plaque to release acids. These acids attack tooth enamel, causing tooth softness and leaving white spots. If left untreated, demineralization will cause cavities.
If you’ve just gotten your braces removed and you notice staining or white spots on your teeth, do not be too worried. Such discoloration is very common. It’s still possible in most cases to improve the appearance.
A dentist can recommend a treatment regimen that’s right for you. Some common treatment options include:
There are many types of at-home and in-office whitening products and procedures, from toothpaste to strips, gels, and more. Talk to your dentist about what would work best for your teeth. Whitening products are most effective after you have your braces removed. Yet if you have braces on, using whitening toothpaste with an electric toothbrush can help prevent staining.
While it’s not possible to grow back enamel you’ve lost, it is possible to stop the demineralization and those white spots that often accompany it. Regular brushing, eliminating sugar from your diet, reducing your fruit and dairy intake, and taking vitamin and probiotic supplements can help remineralize your teeth.
If your braces have damaged your teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may recommend composite restoration. This involves adhering a tooth-colored resin to your teeth to make the color and shape seem more natural and healthy.
This involves sanding off the top layer of your enamel to correct your tooth color with pumice or diamond. It’s usually highly effective in improving tooth appearance, and works for both white spots and stains.
In extreme cases of discoloration, a dentist or orthodontist may recommend veneers to cover it up. These are thin, tooth-colored shells attached to the front surface of teeth.
The best way to cope with discoloration caused by braces is to avoid it in the first place. Here are some helpful tips for tooth care while wearing braces:
Brush your teeth regularly and thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush. When you’re wearing braces, it’s especially important to brush your teeth to remove plaque that can build up and cause discoloration. While you should brush at least twice a day, when wearing braces it is best to brush after every meal. Consider an electric toothbrush with an orthodontic head, which is most efficient at keeping teeth with braces clean
Rinse your mouth with water or fluoride rinse if you can’t brush after eating, and always after brushing. Check your teeth and braces after rinsing to ensure you’ve gotten all food cleared off your teeth, wire, and brackets.
Floss your teeth every day. A floss threader can help you reach around your brackets and wires. You may also receive a small toothbrush to get into those hard-to-reach places. According to dental professionals, flossing along with brushing can reduce plaque for 1 to 3 months better than brushing alone.
Routine dentist visits
Get regular cleanups and checkups at your dentist to keep your teeth healthy. Your dentist can also identify any problem areas if they notice plaque building up under or around your braces
Follow your orthodontist’s directions carefully. If you do not, you may have to wear your braces for an extended period of time, which increases your risks of discoloration
Avoid the following foods, which can get caught in or break your braces, and contribute to plaque buildup and tooth decay:
- sugary and starchy foods and drinks like candy and soda
- sticky foods like gum and taffy
- crunchy or hard foods like raw carrots or nuts
Another option if you’re trying to avoid braces discoloration is to use other types of orthodontic appliances to straighten your teeth. Invisible braces, which are clear plastic and mold to your teeth, are a popular option. You take them on and off to eat. It’s also possible to add a whitening product inside invisible braces. A major benefit of invisible braces such as Invisalign is they don’t adhere to your teeth. So long as you keep your invisible braces clean, they shouldn’t cause plaque buildup like that which happens with metal braces that are attached to your teeth.
Research suggests that many people are more satisfied with the appearance of their teeth after combining invisible braces with whitening. This is compared to using invisible braces alone.
While braces usually do a great job of straightening our teeth, they can sometimes leave discoloration behind once they’re removed. There are even several ways to minimize or remove the appearance of staining if it affects your teeth.
Yet the best way to get rid of braces staining is to avoid it in the first place. Sticking to a regular brushing and teeth-cleaning routine can help reduce your risk of tooth staining while wearing braces, as can seeking alternatives to metal braces.