How to Remove Stains After Braces
Have you recently had your braces removed? Are you thrilled with how much straighter your teeth look? Are you disappointed that there are strange looking stains left on your teeth after the brackets are removed? You’re not alone. Braces are great for bringing your teeth into better alignment, but they can leave you with white spots on your teeth after your braces are removed. Foods, beverages and tobacco products used during the time you wore braces may have stained the enamel on the rest of your teeth darker — making this contrast in color even more pronounced.
What Causes Those White Spots on Teeth After Braces?
The most common cause of white spots on teeth after braces is decalcification of the enamel. This happens as a result of acid erosion from bacteria in the mouth. It usually occurs around the edges of the brackets. Failure to brush properly or follow your orthodontist’s instructions regarding diet while wearing braces can make this problem more likely. If the decay continues, the spots may turn brown as they become true cavities. If the erosion stops, the spots may remain looking whiter than the surrounding enamel.
Topical Stain Removal Options
There are two main ways that patients deal with stains after braces. First, there is re-mineralization of the enamel. If the decalcification has not progressed too far, your orthodontist may recommend one or more products to help rebuild enamel. These might include:
- A topical fluoride gel or mouth rinse
- An MI paste containing RECALDENT
- An enamel strengthening toothpaste such as Sensodyne ProNamel
These treatments take time to work, so don’t panic if your teeth have stains after braces. You may be able to reverse this problem over time. Fortunately, cleaning your teeth is much easier once braces are removed. So it’s likely that you can at least stop the progression of the enamel erosion. This buys you some time to consider your options.
Depending on the amount of staining on the enamel surrounding the white spots, tooth whitening products may offer a solution. You may try in-office treatments such as ZOOM! or at-home whitening strips or gels (prescription strength or OTC). Some patients find that these whitening agents just make the white spots more pronounced. Others find that the lighter areas eventually blend in with the rest of the enamel and become unnoticeable. If you have significant staining from your braces, you should definitely talk to your dentist before attempting tooth whitening. It isn’t necessarily a good idea to expose already weakened enamel to strong bleaching agents.
Dental Procedures to Reverse Stains After Braces
If the white spots on your teeth don’t respond to topical treatment, you may need further dental intervention to remove the stains. Some orthodontists will perform a light polishing on the enamel after removing braces. This may lessen the appearance of white spots by smoothing out the eroded areas. This is a fairly non-invasive way to improve staining if the decalcification hasn’t progressed too far and the erosion is very shallow.
If polishing is insufficient or the areas of erosion are too deep, dental bonding may be the next step. The composite resin used in dental bonding can be matched to the color of the surrounding enamel. The resin is brushed directly onto the tooth surface with minimal preparation of the enamel required. It is not a permanent solution and will need to be redone if the resin stains or degrades over time. However, it is a fairly inexpensive procedure compared to more extensive restoration.
Porcelain veneers are the final resort for teeth that remain permanently stained after braces. These veneers are placed over the stained enamel and restore an even, white appearance to the entire visible surface of the tooth. Veneers are only done on front teeth — the ones that show when you smile. They generally cost more than $1,000 per tooth, which can make the cost of braces seem cheap in comparison. That’s one very good reason to take care of your teeth while you are wearing braces. You don’t want to end up spending even more money to fix cosmetic issues after the braces come off!