A question that we hear a lot from patients is, “Can I use teeth whitening products while wearing braces?” The short answer to that question is a simple “No.” When working to straighten teeth with an orthodontist, you should wait until after the braces come off before thinking about teeth whitening products or procedures. Here’s a closer look at the reasons why you should wait.
Braces and Tooth Discoloration
Many people wonder if the brackets from braces are going to discolor their teeth behind the brackets. This is simply not the case. However, the food and drink choices that patients make while wearing braces can stain the teeth. Undergoing treatment with braces is a commitment that has a great reward waiting at the end of it — a perfectly straight, glorious smile. But it requires dedication on the part of the patient when it comes to good oral hygiene and diet.
Sugary foods and drinks can allow plaque to build up behind the brackets on braces, which can lead to tooth decay or discoloration. Candies that are sticky can be especially difficult to get rid of through brushing and flossing while wearing braces. Drinks like coffee, tea or wine will stain the teeth under any circumstance, including while undergoing treatment with braces. These stains might not even be noticeable while treatment is ongoing, but they will be very apparent once the braces come off.
Braces and Teeth Whitening Products
There are many different teeth whitening products available over the counter, such as toothpastes, gels, and whitening strips. It can be tempting to use these products if discoloration is a concern. However, even if those products do manage to whiten the exposed areas of your teeth (many of these products are ineffective), it won’t affect the color of the teeth behind the brackets. As a result, a patient can end up with unevenly discolored teeth once the braces are removed.
Many teeth whitening products can also cause irritation and discomfort when they’re used. Patients are likely to already have some sensitivity at times from their braces, so this would only make those problems worse.
Be careful when shopping for toothpaste when undergoing braces treatment. Whitening toothpaste is unlikely to make huge changes in the color of the exposed areas on your teeth, but it could cause uneven coloring if used too often. Instead, look for a non-whitening toothpaste with fluoride that has the ADA stamp of approval on it.
Teeth Whitening after the Braces Come Off
Once treatment with braces concludes, a patient may be able to undergo a professional teeth whitening procedure. Understand that every patient is different and unique, and in some cases, your orthodontist in Melbourne might advise you against teeth whitening. Those products simply are not appropriate for every single patient.
Be sure to talk to your regular dentist or a specialist in cosmetic dentistry as well. They can advice you on treatment options for stained teeth, or provide you with a combination of in-office and at-home procedures for whitening the teeth.
The type of tooth stains that a patient has can also determine whether teeth whitening will work for them. Extrinsic stains are ones that are on the enamel or outer surface of the teeth. Whitening products can work for this type of staining. Intrinsic stains, on the other hand, stem from the inner part of the tooth. Whitening products won’t work for this type of staining. This is why it’s especially important to talk to a dentist or orthodontist before simply trying an at-home whitening product.
You will also want to talk with your Melbourne orthodontist about whether your treatment is fully complete. If you are not completely happy with your smile after the braces come off, and more orthodontic treatment is needed, it might be best to wait until after that before getting your teeth whitened.
And if you have been thinking about treatment with braces, Invisalign, or another type of orthodontic treatment to correct your smile, give our office a call to schedule your first appointment!