When you invest in braces, you're excited for the big reveal of your new, straight smile. You might be discouraged, however, to find stains on your perfectly straightened teeth. There are some things you can do during your time with braces and after they are removed to make sure you don't have to worry about stains spoiling your straight smile.
1. Proper Oral Care
White spot lesions (WSLs) are caused when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth. The plaque causes the teeth to slowly decalcify, leaving white stains that are lighter in color than the surrounding enamel. WSLs are the first signs of tooth decay, and they indicate a poor dental care regime. When you have braces, the chances of developing WSLs os higher, simply because it is more difficult to properly brush and floss. The stains will develop in areas where there are no brackets, so the white spots are more apparent once the braces are removed.
Your best defense is to be vigilant with brushing and flossing while you have braces -- at least twice a day, but preferably after every meal. You should also never skip your cleaning and orthodontist appointments, as professional cleaning will remove plaque before it has a chance to develop WSLs.
2. Whitening Care
After your braces are removed, you may still have a white spot here and there. These white spots are permanent stains, but they can still be partially remedied with some cosmetic dental procedures. One procedure that is fairly straightforward is to use a resin that essentially dyes the white spot to match the more creamy color of your teeth. While the end result may not be perfect, the contrast between the white patches and the rest of the tooth is reduced.
Your dentist can also prescribe a powerful toothpaste that has restorative ingredients. Remember, decalcification of teeth is what causes the spots, so nourishing them with ingredients that remineralize the teeth can also help reduce the appearance of white spots by restoring the calcium and phosphorus that were lost when the plaque began eating away at the tooth. Your cosmetic dentist might also give you a prescription for a professional-grade toothpaste with elevated fluoride levels that can prevent calcification spots from developing further into full blown cavities.
3. Beyond brushing and flossing.
When you have braces, getting in all the cracks crevices to clean your teeth is much more challenging. A traditional toothbrush and roll of floss may not be good enough to get your teeth as clean as they need to be to prevent long-term staining. You can try:
- using an electric toothbrush. More than 80% of patients saw a positive improvement in oral health when using an electric toothbrush. They cut back the time and energy it requires to brush thoroughly using a regular toothbrush.
- water flossing. Talk to your dentist about water flossing devices. Unlike string flossers, water flossers can reach places that are notoriously hard to clean when you have braces: the brackets and the gum line. If your orthodontist discourages the use of water flossers, opt for pick-style flossers instead of string, and be sure to use the pinted side of the pick to clean underneath the gum line and around your brackets.
- opting for extra protection. Ask your dentist if they can add another layer of protection with a fluoride seal, which is similar to the bonding glue used for your brackets. The seal coats your teeth and makes it more difficult for plaque to build up and start the decay process.
For more information on treating and preventing stains when you have braces, talk to your orthodontist and cosmetic dentist.