Whitening Your Teeth with Braces

If you are already in the process of having your dental alignment corrected with braces, you may now be concerned about other cosmetic dental issues, such as discoloration. Dental discoloration often occurs as pigments or colorants from foods are absorbed by your tooth enamel.

In many cases, chemical bleaching products can help remove food-based dental stains, but they may not be suitable for use during an orthodontic treatment involving braces. Some orthodontic options, such as Invisalign, allow the appliance to be completely removed from the teeth for short periods. As a result, their removal can make it easier to whiten your teeth chemically. However, with braces, the brackets cover portions of each tooth. A chemical teeth whitener can lighten the color of the exposed portions of a tooth, but those areas that are hidden by the brackets will remain discolored.

Once the braces are removed, the lines of discoloration that were once covered by the brackets will be apparent against the teeth. Therefore, it is often best to delay chemical whitening until after braces have been removed.

Still, there are ways to whiten your teeth while wearing braces. Here are a few of them:

Brush and floss often.

Brushing and flossing can significantly reduce the amount of discoloration that develops on your teeth. By removing food and beverage stains before they are absorbed deeply into the pores of the enamel, subsequent yellowing can be minimized. In addition, brushing twice daily and flossing once per day can remove plaque before it turns into unsightly, yellow tartar.

Plaque is made up of particles of food that have mixed with oral bacteria. The sticky substance adheres to the surfaces in your mouth, especially in the areas between the teeth and along the gum line. If the plaque is permitted to remain in place for a significant period, it hardens or calcifies. The resulting substance is known as tartar. By removing the plaque promptly with frequent brushing and flossing sessions, you can permit yellow tartar from accumulating and discoloring your teeth.

Rinse often with water.

Even if a brush and floss are not readily available, water usually is. Rinsing your mouth immediately after meals and snacks can help dislodge food and debris that would otherwise remain caught in your brackets and between your teeth. Also, since most water is fluoridated, it can strengthen your teeth against yellowing decay.

Brush with an ultrasonic toothbrush.

The vibrating or rotating bristles of an ultrasonic electric toothbrush can make cleaning your bracket-covered teeth easier.  The sonic vibrations from the toothbrush help break apart plaque and staining food particles that may have built up on your teeth.

Don’t smoke.

Tobacco is filled with dark-colored pigments. These colorants can cause your teeth to take on a brown or yellow hue.

In addition, people who smoke tobacco products often suffer from dry mouth or a reduction in the amount of saliva within the oral cavity. With a limited amount of saliva, dental stains are less likely to be washed away before being embedded in your teeth. Dry mouth also prevents acid from the bacteria in your mouth from being diluted, resulting in a greater chance of decay that can cause discoloration.

Visit your dentist regularly.

Plaque can be easily removed with floss and a toothbrush. However, once the material hardens into tartar, it must be scraped from your teeth. Regular visits to the dentist can help ensure that yellow tartar doesn’t build up on your teeth to discolor your smile.

Minimize deeply pigmented food and beverages.

Some foods and drinks are more staining to your teeth than others. Wine, coffee and blackberries are deeply pigmented and can yellow your teeth. Although it may be difficult to avoid all dark-colored healthy foods, you can omit deeply colored sports drinks and dark sodas without sacrificing your nutritional needs. If you do consume something that is darkly colored, be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly immediately after eating or drinking.

Having braces is a great step toward a more beautiful smile. As the alignment of your teeth is corrected, it is important to protect the whiteness of your teeth, which can also affect how attractive your teeth appear. For more information about whitening your teeth with braces, contact our office to schedule an appointment.