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How to Whiten Teeth After Braces?

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A lady in the mirror is using a whitening strip to whiten her teeth after her braces were removed.

A common source of self-consciousness is having crooked teeth or gaps between them. Fortunately, braces are a viable option for many people. For most people, it’s a wonderful feeling to get their braces off. But sometimes they’re surprised to have one problem fixed and a new one in its place: discoloured teeth. If this happens, professional whitening may be the best option.

It can be disheartening to go through 2 or more years of wearing braces to straighten your smile, only to have stained teeth at the end of it. The positive thing here is that teeth whitening is generally simple and quick.

Why Teeth May Need Whitening After Braces

Discoloured teeth after braces are removed are relatively common. It’s worth noting that you should wait for any whitening procedures after you’re done with braces. This is because our saliva may naturally lighten the stains left over from braces.

Whether you had ceramic or traditional metal braces is irrelevant regarding discolouration. It’s not actually the braces that cause the staining on your teeth. 

Poor Oral Hygiene

Ultimately, one of the primary reasons that teeth could need a whitening treatment is poor oral hygiene while wearing braces. It’s no secret that oral care becomes a little more difficult with the brackets and wires crowding your mouth. Even with the specialty flossers and brushes available, it’s hard to get your teeth as clean as they should be.

One thing that causes staining or abnormal teeth colouration is plaque and tartar. By itself, plaque is a colourless film covering the teeth’s surface. Plaque combines with sugar and becomes acidic, and the acid pulls minerals from the teeth, which can leave discoloured spots on the teeth. In addition to potentially causing stains, this buildup increases your risk of gum disease or tooth decay, which can complicate your oral health further while wearing braces.

If plaque isn’t cleaned within approximately 24 hours, it hardens into tartar. As the tartar builds up, it can cause yellow and brown stains on your teeth, especially in the small crevices between them. Unfortunately, if tartar is causing discolouration, professional cleaning is likely the only way to get rid of it.

Stain-Causing Food and Drink

Another way that stains or discolouration begins on our teeth is through the food and drinks we put in our mouths. Things like tea, coffee, pop, wine, or other dark juices can leave behind stains. Nothing says you have to cut these things out completely, but cutting back can help with tooth colour.

Sugary and acidic foods can also lead to discoloured teeth. The enamel of your teeth is compromised after eating or drinking these things. When the enamel is weakened, your teeth are more prone to stains from things that may not stain them normally.

Taking Care of Your Teeth With Braces

A good oral health routine, while you have braces, doesn’t deviate much from a mouth without them. The primary difference you’ll find is the timing and the tools you’ll use. Brushing and flossing typically take a bit longer with braces.

Proper care for your teeth with braces includes:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Flossing after every meal. Special accessories help you pass the floss through your teeth above the braces wire. This enables you to floss below the gum line.
  • Mouthwash and a tool like a Water Pik make great additions to the routine, but neither can replace brushing and flossing.
  • Avoid crunchy, hard, and chewy foods as much as possible because these can damage your braces.
  • Always check your braces in the mirror once you’re done to ensure there are no stubborn pieces of food stuck.
A young lady undergoing teeth bleaching to whiten her teeth at the  Dentist's clinic.

Whitening Teeth After Braces

No one’s teeth will discolour the same, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for whitening your teeth after braces. But there are three different types of methods you can try. If you need help deciding which route to go, you can chat with your dentist about the best option for your mouth.

Types of whitening include:

  • At-home whitening: There are many different over-the-counter (OTC) kits, like gels, strips, or mouthwashes, that do a decent job with stains. With discoloured teeth after braces, these OTC kits aren’t often strong enough. 
  • At-home professional kits: Some dental offices sell professional-strength whitening kits that you can take and do from home. These are typically stronger and more effective after braces. In many cases, you still won’t get the desired results.
  • In-office whitening: The most potent whitening you can get for your teeth is an in-office treatment. For example, Fairlawn Dental Centre offers an effective bleaching treatment to whiten teeth.

Discuss Your Whitening Option With Your Dentist

You’ve already spent a ton of time and probably money on improving your smile, don’t let discoloured teeth keep you from showing it off. If you’re wondering what your options are for whitening your teeth after braces, give us a call. The professional staff at Fairlawn Dental Centre are happy to answer your questions about the whitening procedures we offer.

Dr. Ferhana Jaleel

Written by Dr. Ferhana Jaleel

As a dentist in the Ottawa area Dr. Ferhana Jaleel has been practicing full-time general dentistry over 25 years and expertly cares for patients of all ages.

To ensure that she provides patients with the best quality and most advanced care, she continually upgrades her knowledge and skills. This continued education covers topics on cosmetic and reconstructive periodontal surgery, aesthetics including Lumineers®, orthodontics, Invisalign®, placement and restoration of dental implants, and many others.

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