How To Address Teeth Staining During And After Orthodontic Treatment

Preventing teeth staining is achievable with good oral hygiene practices

Orthodontic treatment is the most formidable method to have an alluring smile. But surely, other methods make having a dream smile possible. However, in some cases, the promise of a beautiful denture comes with some risks.

In some unfortunate cases, cosmetic dentists fix misaligned teeth by wearing them away with a mill, placing pearl white crowns and veneers, and fixing little cracks with resins.

The results are astonishing, but the problems of doing this might be disastrous. The cosmetic benefits might fade away when the patients start having functional bite problems, leading to losing denture pieces.

For this reason, we strongly encourage our patients to adopt a “wait and see” approach” before starting treatment, especially when they look for treatments for the sole purpose of having a beautiful smile, dismissing the importance of bite functionality.

Indeed, orthodontics goes far beyond just having a beautiful smile. Orthodontic treatment concerns enhancing functionality as a preventive mechanism to maintain your teeth healthily.

Therefore, if you feel it is time to get your crooked teeth a new aspect, we recommend you visit an orthodontist Portland who can work along with a cosmetic dentist so they design a plan to achieve two goals:

  • A comprehensive treatment that enhances bite functionality prevents oral health issues, and extends your teeth’ life;
  • It makes your teeth look perfectly aligned and stain-free with a professional teeth whitening process and uses veneers or resins as a complementary measure to fix some little cracks or chips.

With these introductory recommendations in mind, in this article, we discuss a concern that arises when patients opt for a comprehensive cosmetic enhancement procedure, teeth staining and how to address it during orthodontic treatment.

Can Braces Stain Teeth?

Yes, braces, in some cases, stain teeth. After finishing their treatment, some patients might find, after releasing their appliances, teeth staining or discoloration in the form of a yellowish film adhered to teeth or white spots.

What Causes Teeth Staining or Discoloration?

When you wear braces, dental hygiene turns brushing and flossing more challenging than regular. In addition, during your braces treatment, there is a higher risk of plaque formation in the teeth and around the brackets.

Plaque is a thick film that forms from the accumulation of food residues and bacteria that sticks to teeth. Dental plaque as a biofilm has an acídic pH level that fosters teeth demineralization and caries.

As plaque accumulates, it forms a yellowish or brownish material that builds up, making it hard for a patient to clear it away, and it requires mechanical removal by a dentist.

Also, when plaque builds up, it erodes the outer layer of teeth, named enamel. The enamel layer serves as a protective shield for bacteria to penetrate. The acidic pH of dental plaque demineralizes teeth forming white spots.

In both cases, if left untreated, the plaque biofilm could penetrate teeth further layers forming caries that could reach the teeth pulp damaging the nerves and causing unbearable pain.

So far, it seems it is all bad news, and braces cause more problems than it solves. But that isn’t true. Practicing enhanced hygiene habits helps prevent those problems.

Also, if you still get stained teeth after orthodontic treatment, you can remove or fade the stains.

Preventable Measures to Avoid Teeth Staining During Orthodontic Treatment With Braces

The most effective measure to avoid teeth staining during your braces treatment is to have an enhanced, disciplined oral hygiene routine and a limited sugary ingest diet. Yes, when we say enhanced, we mean running the extra mile in the cleaning. Let’s check this out in detail:

Proper Brushing

Proper brushing is essential for everybody. However, patients wearing braces must change their hygiene routine. Here we include a list of steps recommended to get better results:

  • Spend at least an extra minute brushing each mouth quadrant;
  • Get a closer look at all possible areas to find food residues. Brush the dirt spots with up and down movements clearing the food residues away;
  • Brush from the gumline towards the wires and brackets with up and down movements to mechanically remove food particles and repeat as needed;
  • Finish your brushing part of the dental hygiene routine with a sweeping-like movement combined with circular motions cleaning the frontal part of all your teeth.

Proper Flossing

Traditional flossers might be inadequate to produce the appropriate results while wearing braces. We recommend patients use a self-threading flosser and interdental brushes.

  • Self-threading Flossers. Conventional flossers can’t reach the spaces between brackets and gums. However, to solve this little big dilemma, patients can get a self-threading flosser that differentiates from the classic by having a hard head thread you can insert between teeth and the gumline and wire spaces. Patients can make up and down movements and repeat the process in every interdental space.
  • Interdental Brushes. The interdental brush is the most effective mechanism for removing debris and food particles in the nooks and crannies formed by brackets and wires. However, not all patients have the same spacing between teeth, and forced friction might damage the gums and teeth. With this said, patients must consult a dentist or dental hygienist about the correct dimensions of interdental brushes. Now, getting to the point, these little devices look similar to a toilet brush patients manipulate with their thumb and index fingers, inserting them between teeth, between wires and teeth, and reaching brackets nooks and crannies.

Use a Water Irrigator

A water irrigator is a device that splashes pressurized water. Patients can use a water irrigator as a complementary tool for brushing and flossing. First, they must identify a clogged spot, direct the irrigator head to the affected area, and send a splash to unclog it.

Mouthwash

So far, we’ve talked about the mechanical removal of food particles, but we might also attack the other cause of the problem: “bacteria.” Use a mouthwash to perfect your oral hygiene routine and kill problematic bacteria.

Periodic Control Checkups

We’ve mentioned plaque accumulation produces a film that sticks to teeth, and patients might be unable to remove brushing or flossing. So instead, dentists or dental hygienists use ultrasonic devices to break the calcifications.

Also, the specialist checks if patients develop cavities or gum problems that range from mild gum inflammation to severe periodontitis. Finally, we recommend patients schedule a thorough clean-up periodically, at least twice a year.

Corrective Measures to Eliminate Braces Stains

You get to that happy moment when your orthodontist tells you the treatment has ended and it’s time to remove them. But, you notice there are yellowish stains or white spots.

It is not the end of the world; getting your teeth discolored often occurs, and you might get a little help to solve it. So here we include some options to treat your teeth staining problems:

Teeth Whitening

Patients might get at-home and in-office products. However, despite its availability, we don’t recommend abrasive at-home products. Instead, we advocate for professional teeth whitening using carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide that penetrates the inner layers of teeth eliminating years of stains.

Remineralization

Once a patient loses enamel, it doesn’t grow back. In other words, your body does not regenerate, so it is essential to maintain good oral hygiene. However, despite the adversity, you can still remineralize your teeth.

To cease the process and avoid the white spots, patients must practice good oral hygiene, eliminate sugary foods from their diet, and ingest mineral and vitamin supplements.

Composite Restoration

Sometimes braces damage teeth in such a manner you need a cosmetic restoration. As stated in the introductory part of this article, the cosmetic aspect of the process might involve a final touch in which a cosmetic dentist adheres to a resin that mimics tooth color.

Microabrasion

The process consists of matching the worn color by sanding the enamel top layer with a pumice or diamond sander. The effect works for stains as well as white spots.

Veneers

A composite restoration helps patients showing mild discoloration cases. However, in severe discoloration circumstances, your dentist can apply a veneer, a hard ceramic composite that matches your teeth’ color shade, and a cosmetic dentist attach it to the front surface of your front teeth.

Can Invisalign® End Up Staining My Teeth?

No, Invisalign cannot stain your teeth. However, careless patients might have some problems if they don’t follow fundamental guidelines; we include as follows:

  • Detach your appliances before eating or drinking;
  • Brush and floss your teeth regularly;
  • Brush your appliances during your hygiene routine using liquid soap;
  • Sanitize your appliances at night using Invisalign’s complementary hygiene products (cleaning tablets) or other products like Retainer Brite or disinfecting products like vinegar or baking soda.

Failing to detach your appliances before eating or cleaning them might produce bacteria accumulation on the devices passing to the patient’s teeth and producing dental problems (tartar, plaque, or white spots).

Signature Smiles Powered by Excellence

At Hillsdale Orthodontics, Board certified Dr. Leemin and her team have vast experience and professional experience in treating patients of all ages.

As part of our orthodontic treatment offer, we strive to excel at giving you and your family the best experience with a beautifully aligned smile, working with you to discard teeth staining during the process.

Schedule an appointment, and our kind and gentle staff will assist you with all your specific needs so Dr. Leemin can guide you through a journey for a beautiful smile.

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Picture of Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

As a nutty overachiever, Dr. Leemin never lost sight of her childhood dreams of becoming a smartypants orthodontist. After graduating from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors, she embarked on her career in dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated #1 in her class. Feeling just a little too ambitious, she then completed 2.5 years of additional training at OHSU to become an orthodontic specialist.

Stanford University – Bachelor of Arts with Honors
Univ. of Pennsylvania – Doctor of Dental Medicine
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Master of Science
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Certificate in Orthodontics

Picture of Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

As a nutty overachiever, Dr. Leemin never lost sight of her childhood dreams of becoming a smartypants orthodontist. After graduating from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors, she embarked on her career in dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated #1 in her class. Feeling just a little too ambitious, she then completed 2.5 years of additional training at OHSU to become an orthodontic specialist.

Stanford University
Bachelor of Arts with Honors
Univ. of Pennsylvania
Doctor of Dental Medicine
Oregon Health & Science Univ.
Master of Science
Oregon Health & Science Univ.
Certificate in Orthodontics

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