So you’ve made the decision to straighten your teeth….Awesome! You’re on your way to a more beautiful and confident smile. You’ve probably spent some time thinking about all your different options, whether that means traditional metal braces, clear braces, or the clear, removable alternative of Invisalign™. While there are many things to consider when it comes to orthodontic treatment, there is one thing that some people may be surprised to hear about - and that’s teeth staining.
What’s teeth staining, and how does it relate to my orthodontic treatment? These are great questions! We’re going to take an in-depth look into what teeth staining is, how it can affect you during your orthodontic treatment, and some steps you can take to prevent this unsightly occurrence in order to keep your soon-to-be perfect smile 100%!
What is “Braces Teeth Staining”?
Teeth staining is the white spots on teeth (often in the shape of braces) that occur to some people during the course of their orthodontic treatment. Doesn’t sound too great, does it? Especially not after all that time you dedicated to straightening your teeth!
“What causes teeth staining?” you’re probably wondering.
Well, the answer to that question would be plaque. Plaque is the thin, sticky film of bacteria on your teeth, which builds up from the foods you eat (mainly carbohydrates or sugars) combined with saliva. This is normally brushed away when you brush your teeth, but when undergoing orthodontic treatment, it can be a little extra tricky to remove it all. Ultimately, if the plaque is not removed, it leads to tooth decalcification, which is the loss of hard mineral. This is ultimately what causes the staining, or discoloration, of the teeth.
Why Can Teeth Staining Occur During Orthodontic Treatment?
An important factor to note is your risk for teeth staining increases while undergoing your orthodontic treatment. While teeth staining can happen to anyone, it does tend to happen more often in patients with traditional braces. When brackets and wires are attached to teeth, they tend to offer more areas for food to be trapped, and therefore, develop more plaque if not brushed often.
Since brushing and flossing is more difficult and time-consuming with braces, proper oral hygiene can commonly be lacking. Hence stains can occur, especially around the brackets and at the gum line. And even with Invisalign treatment, which involves the use of removable aligners, it is still very important to brush after every meal as the aligners can also “trap” in bacteria that isn’t brushed away once they are placed in.
How to Prevent Teeth Staining?
Ok, so now that we know what teeth staining is, and why it is more common during orthodontic treatment, the next question is - “How do I prevent it?”. Don’t worry!
Fortunately there are ways to prevent, or minimize, this occurrence from happening to you during your orthodontic treatment.
Let’s take a look at what you can do to prevent teeth staining from happening to you:
Eliminate certain troublesome foods from your diet - these include sugary or starchy foods, as well as beverages like sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks. If you can’t eliminate them completely, at the very least, cut down your intake - and use a straw if drinking sugary beverages.
Brush & floss after every meal. It’s likely that you already know how important it is to brush at least twice a day, but when undergoing orthodontic treatment, it’s especially important to clean your teeth well by brushing & flossing after every meal. Proper and frequent oral hygiene allows the manual removal of plaque so it never gets a chance to build up.
Fluoride. Always use a fluoride toothpaste, and in addition, a daily fluoride rinse is recommended during orthodontic treatment. Fluoride allows remineralization of dental enamel which ultimately prevents white spots or teeth staining.
Keep up with your regularly scheduled dental cleanings. You’ll be in great shape by following the above steps, but regular cleaning visits to your dentist will ensure that anything left behind will be taken care of.
How Do I Remove Post-Braces Teeth Staining If It Occurs?
Ok, so maybe you didn’t brush as diligently as you could have, and noticed that some teeth staining occurred once you finished your orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, these stains don’t go away by themselves. They are a fundamental change in your teeth’s enamel, and they typically remain permanently on your teeth.
Fortunately, there’s hope! If you do find yourself the victim of these less-than-satisfactory marks on your teeth, there are ways to minimize or even eliminate them.
Remineralization is one option, which involves the application of special creams to the affected area for a specific period of time. Teeth whitening procedures are another option to hide unsightly stains. If these options are not applicable in your case, there are also more intensive procedures such as microabrasion, composite restorations (“fillings”) or veneers.
Now that you know everything you need to know about teeth staining, make sure to follow all the steps recommended by your orthodontist to maintain great oral health, and enjoy your beautiful and healthy smile for years to come!