Getting your braces off is an exciting time. But what if the big reveal shows off not only a set of beautifully straight teeth but white spots, too? You could be left wondering, “Why do I have white spots on my teeth after braces?” For sure, this can feel deflating and a bit alarming: are white spots from braces permanent?
Dr. Brady Okuda and the team at Okuda Orthodontics want to reassure you that white spots on teeth from braces can be corrected. Of course, prevention is always preferable, but we understand that sometimes our teeth aren’t in the best shape they could be, despite our best efforts. Let’s take a step back and find out all there is to know about white spots on teeth. In this post, Dr. Okuda will cover:
- What are white spots on teeth?
- Why do I have white spots on my teeth?
- How do I prevent white spots from braces?
- How to fix white spots on my teeth after braces
What are white spots on teeth?
It might seem like white spots on teeth are a good thing, right? After all, white teeth are typically what we all want! In this case, however, white spots are actually not a sign of healthy enamel but a sign that decalcification of teeth has occurred. This happens when plaque around braces brackets creates acids that leach minerals like calcium from your enamel. This decalcification of teeth changes the way your teeth reflect light, so it looks like you have chalky, white spots on your teeth.
Why do I have these white spots on my teeth?
Poor Oral Hygiene
As you might have gathered, wearing braces requires extra diligence when it comes to oral care. It’s easy for food debris, plaque, and bacteria to hide in the nooks and crannies of braces. Now, we get it… it’s harder to clean your teeth when you have braces — it takes getting used to and extra patience. But if you don’t brush and floss your teeth with extra care, what’s left around your brackets can turn into plaque, which can then cause the white braces stains you see when braces are removed.
You might be thinking, “I did a fantastic job of brushing and flossing my teeth when I had braces! My dentist even said so!” So why do you still have white spots after braces? Like many of our traits — eye color, dimples, even our orthodontic issues themselves — genetics plays a role in how our teeth respond to care. Some people are more likely to get cavities, no matter how well they brush and floss. Others have less-than-stellar oral hygiene routines but seem to have less tooth decay or discoloration. Regardless, decalcification from braces can happen to anyone, so our expert advice is to stay on top of your oral hygiene every day.
How do I prevent white spots on my teeth after braces?
As we mentioned above, thorough oral care is key to preventing white spots on teeth. And goes without mentioning that the same applies for preventing yellow stains, tooth decay, and gum disease. Here are six ways the Okuda Orthodontics team suggests for guarding against white spots (and other oral health issues!) while you’re wearing braces:
With braces, brushing after every meal is recommended. Pro tip? Be sure to wait about 30 minutes after a meal so saliva can wash away acids from your food and return the pH level of your mouth to a less bacteria-friendly level. Your tooth enamel also needs time to settle after being softened by the sugars in your food. Be sure to use a fluoride toothpaste (but not a whitening one) to keep your teeth strong.
Find a new way to floss
Flossing with braces can be a bit tricky but it’s imperative for getting into the crevices that can easily hide the bacteria and plaque that contributes to teeth stains. Get floss more easily around the archwires and in between teeth by using special floss threaders. Floss threaders look like little lassos that you thread floss through, then insert behind your archwires. Or if you’re not used to flossing, start with dental tape — a wider, spongier version of dental floss that is gentler on teeth but just as effective.
If you’d rather skip the floss, invest in a water flosser like a Waterpik instead. Water flossers are clinically proven to be as effective if not more than traditional dental floss. In fact, your Henderson, NV, orthodontist has noticed that patients who use water flossers have much better gum health than patients who don’t. Just remember it takes a little getting used to — spraying water all over the bathroom or at your face might happen the first few times you use it but you’ll quickly wield it like a pro!
Invest in special oral care supplies
There’s plenty of tools for that extra cleaning power around brackets and wires. An interdental brush helps scrub your brackets clean and gets in between teeth, while an electric toothbrush is a step up from a manual one. Food for thought: in one study, electric toothbrushes actually resulted in 18% less tooth decay than a regular toothbrush.
There’s also bacteria-fighting mouthwashes for that final step in your daily oral care routine. Just don’t use the whitening ones, which will whiten your teeth around your brackets but doesn’t penetrate behind them, resulting in uneven whitening once your braces come off.
Avoid foods that stain
While foods like tomatoes, mustard, brightly-colored sodas, red wine, and coffee are big teeth-stainers, they don’t always contribute directly to white spots on teeth. Instead, they can cause staining that highlights just how white those white spots look in contrast. Staining foods — especially red and yellow, can sometimes also stain ceramic braces, so it’s best to keep away from staining foods in general.
Eat less sugar
Seems like common sense! But we all need a little reminder sometimes. Avoiding candy has a two-fold benefit: no sticky sugar around brackets that can turn into white spots and no potential damage to your braces from candy getting stuck in your archwires. We also recommend limiting your intake of starchy foods which also leave sugar residue, and acidic foods which weaken tooth enamel.
Keep up with dentist and orthodontic visits
Throughout your braces treatment, continue going to the dentist twice a year for check ups and cleaning, and be sure to attend all your orthodontic appointments. Your dental professionals keep tabs on your general oral health, decalcification, braces maintenance, and any other braces issues.
How to fix white spots on teeth after braces
Most of our patients do an amazing job with their oral hygiene while wearing braces but some are still left with white spots on their teeth. They ask us, “Can you get rid of white spots after braces?” If you want to know how to remove white spots on teeth after braces, the team at Okuda Orthodontics is happy to talk with you about options for your specific case. In the meantime, here are some general suggestions:
- Try teeth whitening – Teeth whitening treatment can help whiten your teeth and blend uneven discoloration. Many at-home kits are available at the drugstore, but we do caution, you can get mixed results. And not all drugstore products are the same strength. Professional teeth whitening will result in more success with getting rid of white spots on teeth and oftentimes eliminates white spots altogether.
- Whitening mouthwash and toothpaste – After your braces are removed, it’s the perfect time to switch to whitening mouthwash and toothpaste in your daily oral care routine. Now that all your tooth surfaces are exposed, these products can lighten your teeth evenly, reducing discoloration and stains. Be sure to use products with fluoride to help remineralize decalcification of teeth and target the appearance of those pesky braces spots.
- Get a professional dental cleaning – Sometimes white spots and unevenness can be minimized by a post-braces cleaning by your dentist. Surface stains and some braces stains caused by plaque or tartar can respond well to a dentist’s cleaning and tooth scaling.
- Ask your dentist for topical fluoride – A dentist will have professional-grade fluoride that they apply to your teeth. This helps strengthen your teeth overall, but especially the decalcified areas on your teeth; fluoride also helps lessen the appearance of white spots.
- Intensive Treatments – If you want to skip the gentle, gradual treatments above and go straight to more serious solutions for getting rid of white spots on teeth, talk to Dr. Okuda or your dentist about more intensive options. Enamel microabrasion involves removing some enamel and then bleaching the teeth. Another option is called ICON infiltration, where a resin is injected into the decalcified areas of your teeth to stop or reverse the decay and blend the white spots in with the healthy enamel. A third option is cosmetic bonding, which covers up all stains, giving a uniform appearance to your teeth. Lastly, dental veneers provide whiteness and brightness to the fronts of your teeth but are the most invasive (and expensive) option of the ones we list here.
White spots on teeth are an aesthetic and oral health concern to keep top-of-mind when you have braces. And when all’s said and done, it’s great if your new smile after braces is both stunning and stain-free! If you’re ready to start your braces journey, hopefully this information helps you take the best care of your teeth that you can.
Contact us today for a complimentary in-person or virtual appointment to get started on a custom-designed smile with Okuda Orthodontics.