While braces improve the appearance of your pearly whites and enhance your smile, they bring a whole different problem – teeth discoloration and staining. Therefore, most brace wearers often wonder about whitening their teeth. They have a common question: Can I whiten my teeth while wearing braces?
According to statistics, roughly four million people wear braces in the United States. About a quarter of these are adults. It means that the demand for selfie-ready, perfectly aligned teeth is lofty.
Now, this has no straightforward answer.
Is it possible to whiten teeth with braces? Yes.
Is it an ideal choice? No
Let’s get to the root of this (pun intended!) and find out why.
- 1 Why are my teeth turning yellow with braces?
- 2 Things to consider before whitening your teeth with braces
- 3 Problems with whitening teeth with braces
- 4 So, then how do you fix yellow teeth with braces?
- 5 Whitening teeth after removing braces
Why are my teeth turning yellow with braces?
It is entirely normal for teeth to discolor in the course of teeth straightening. Cleaning your teeth with braces can be tricky, and it is common for plaque to build up around it. Over time, if left unchecked, this build-up may thicken around the teeth, giving them a yellow color.
Things to consider before whitening your teeth with braces
If you are thinking of whitening your teeth with your braces, you need to consider a couple of things.
Kind of braces
There are different kinds of braces. Braces can be fixed or removable, metallic or clear, with or without wires.
Unlike extrinsic tooth discoloration, which only affects the external surface of the tooth, intrinsic stains are caused within the teeth like injuries to the tooth, too much fluoride, or family history.
In each case, professionals recommend waiting until you finish your teeth straightening treatment before going in for a whitening treatment.
Problems with whitening teeth with braces
You may be tempted to whiten your teeth while still progressing with your straightening. It is especially true while using clear aligner systems.
In the beginning or during the treatment, you might notice that your teeth are overlapping or they are not in their final tooth positions. You may see irregular whitening if you choose to whiten your teeth amidst the treatment. There might be some inaccessible areas where the bleach hasn’t managed to contact the tooth, thus leaving an uneven whitening effect on your teeth that will look unsightly.
Over-the-counter (OTC) teeth-whitening products such as whitening strips, gels, and toothpaste claim to whiten your teeth even with braces. Apparently, these products work around your braces, removing stains and brightening your teeth without discomfort.
But these products may be ineffective in giving you that coveted attractive smile.
It doesn’t adequately brighten your teeth, remove stains or give them an even color and tone. When the orthodontist removes your braces, you’ll likely notice darker spots where the brackets were.
Many of these products don’t work as well because their composition is either too weak to bleach the teeth sufficiently or too strong to use. Beware of OTC products that claim instantaneous results. Such products will likely contain higher levels of concentration than recommended for each individual.
Irritation and sensitivity
Whitening your teeth with braces can also result in irritation. These whitening products may further aggravate the problem if you have sensitive teeth or gums. When you combine this with the sensitivity braces usually cause, you are faced with a highly unpleasant and unnecessary experience.
Over and above these evident issues, easy access to OTC products can lead to overuse. Long-term use of these products may cause irreparable damage to your teeth and can be harmful.
And these are the reasons why orthodontists encourage people to delay the teeth whitening process until after the braces are removed.
So, then how do you fix yellow teeth with braces?
Cleaning your teeth thoroughly with braces on can be a harrowing ordeal, and taking care of surface stains might not be easy. But this shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid good oral hygiene. All is not lost. You could still do a few things instead of whitening to keep your teeth from staining while wearing braces.
Rinsing your mouth
It seems very obvious, but this little habit can go a long way in preventing yellowing. Sugary or acidic food can easily stain your teeth. So, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after eating or drinking.
It cleans the noticeable debris both on your teeth and your braces. It is excellent, especially when you can’t get your hands on a brush immediately.
Using the right toothbrush
Orthodontists recommend using a special toothbrush called an interproximal brush. Its thin bristles clean under the wire and around the brackets. It targets the areas that are hard to reach through a standard toothbrush.
Flossing is an essential part of good oral hygiene. So, floss every day. Even though flossing your teeth with braces on can seem daunting, skipping it can cause gum diseases or tooth decay.
Water flossers (also called oral irrigators) can be used if you find this tedious. A steady stream of water cleans your gum line and spaces between your teeth.
Whitening teeth after removing braces
Once your teeth have been straightened, and you are satisfied with the result, you can talk to your orthodontist about the whitening process.
Unlike over-the-counter strips and gels, the whitening procedure at the orthodontists clinic is much more effective and safer since it is controlled.
The orthodontist makes special whitening trays with professional strength. Depending on your teeth sensitivity, these trays will be worn for one to two hours. You should start seeing results in about a week.
For the best results, visit your dentist and have a “whitening evaluation” to determine which system is best for you. It is worth the extra cost to visit the dentist to get the desired safe and long-lasting outcome
Months or years of wearing braces may have left you looking for a quick fix. Delay the instant gratification. Wait for your braces to come off and fix an appointment for an in-office whitening treatment. You’ll realize that getting the smile you’ve always wanted won’t take long!
I feel very fortunate to have found a profession as rewarding as the field of Orthodontics! For over 20 years, I have enjoyed creating custom, beautiful smiles for our family of patients all over the Northern Virginia area. You can even find some of our loyal patients across the country and abroad!