Did you recently get your braces taken off and discover that you have white spots on the surface of your teeth? Or maybe you’ve seen someone else with chalky white spots on their teeth and wondered what caused them. As orthodontic specialists in Kelowna, Align Ortho has seen many white spots after braces in our day. Though they commonly appear after treatment with braces, there are a number of other factors that lead to white spots. The good news is that they’re a very preventable side effect of braces. All it takes is proper oral hygiene habits throughout your braces treatment.
If you’re thinking about starting treatment with braces or you’re already in the middle of your braces journey, you might have questions about how to treat white spots — or better yet, how to prevent them. In this post, Dr. James Scramstad and the Align Ortho team will share:
- What causes white spots after braces
- How to prevent white spots on teeth
- How to get rid of white spots on teeth after braces
Why Do I Have White Spots on My Teeth?
Whether you recently finished treatment with braces or not, white spots on your teeth are a common concern for people of all ages. These spots are caused by the decalcification of the teeth, brought on by harmful bacteria that has built up over time. If you don’t clean your teeth properly, food and plaque cause a surge of bad bacteria in your mouth. All that gunk then creates acid which leads to the deterioration of your tooth enamel. This demineralization shows up as white spots on your teeth and is essentially the first stage of cavity formation and tooth decay.
When white spots appear after braces, it’s typically due to improper oral hygiene. We get that it’s definitely trickier to brush and floss your teeth effectively when you have braces, but that’s why it’s more important than ever to focus on your oral health. The bad bacteria loves to hide in all the nooks and crannies between your teeth and behind your brackets and wires. To keep white spots (and thus, cavities) at bay, you need to be super diligent about flossing and brushing your teeth with braces.
Of course, not everyone who has white spots on their teeth went through braces treatment. Other causes of white spots include:
- Poor nutrition: Too much sugary and acidic food leads to rapid decay of your tooth enamel. This includes things like coffee, pop, tomato sauce, red wine, balsamic vinegar and more. That’s why it’s so important to brush and floss after eating or drinking sugary and acidic things, whether you’re undergoing braces treatment or not.
- Genetics: Your family history can play a significant role in your overall oral health and may make it more likely that you’ll develop white spots on your teeth.
- Overuse of fluoride products: If a child is exposed to too much fluoride in the first eight years of their life, it can cause fluorosis. This condition can lead to discoloration of the permanent teeth when they come in.
- The use of whitening products during braces treatment: Our Kelowna orthodontic patients often ask if they can whiten their teeth with braces. The answer is no, you should not use any whitening products with braces on. The product will only come into contact with the area of your teeth that is not covered by your brackets, so you will be left with large white spots on your teeth when your braces come on. It’s best to wait until after treatment to begin any whitening procedure.
- Tobacco products: It doesn’t matter if you’ve had braces or not — it’s common knowledge that smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, causes stained teeth. If you smoke or use these products with braces on, the part of your tooth that’s hidden beneath your brackets won’t see the same exposure. This means you’ll be left with discolored and uneven teeth when you get your braces taken off.
How to Prevent White Spots After Braces
When it comes to oral health problems like white spots, cavities and tooth decay (which are all different phases of the same thing), prevention is key. Fortunately, there are some simple proactive steps you can take during braces treatment to prevent white spots from forming. In fact, you can prevent white spots after braces by simply brushing and flossing your teeth. Here’s how to keep your teeth white-spot free:
- Brush your teeth after everysnack, drink and meal: Yep, you really do need to brush your teeth that often when you have braces. Remember that bacteria we talked about? It loves to cling to hard-to-reach places, and your brackets and wires just give it more surface area to work with. Soevery time you eat or drink anything other than water, be sure to brush your teeth.
- Floss effectively at least once a day: Flossing with braces is a challenge but it’s absolutely critical to your oral health. We recommend using orthodontic flossers or floss threaders to help you effectively remove plaque and debris from your teeth. While it might not be the most fun part of having braces, it is one of the most effective ways of preventing white spots after treatment.
- Avoid sugary or acidic foods: Sugar and acid are two of the most damaging things for your teeth. Sugar creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria while acid disrupts your mouth’s natural pH balance and can rapidly decay your tooth enamel. This applies before, during and after braces treatment, so always try to limit these foods in your diet to keep your teeth strong and healthy.
- Build a braces to-go kit: So how are you supposed to brush and floss your teeth if you’re out and about, at work or at school? Put together a little to-go kit with all your braces essentials: tooth brush, toothpaste, floss and anything else you might need to take care of your teeth on the go. That way, you’llnever have any excuses not to brush your teeth or floss with braces!
How to Remove White Spots on Teeth After Braces
While we believe it’s always better to prevent a problem from happening than to treat it after the fact, sometimes it’s too late to stop white spots from forming. That plaque and bacteria is tricky to deal with, so if you end up with chalky spots on your teeth when your braces come off, don’t be too hard on yourself. We know it can be a bit discouraging to see, especially after you’ve waited so patiently to see your new smile, but you’re not stuck with them forever. There are ways to get rid of white spots after braces, either at home or with the help of your Kelowna dentist. Here’s how:
- Use fluoride toothpaste: You should always use a fluoridated toothpaste to help keep your enamel strong and spot-free. If you already have white spots, fluoride toothpaste will help rebuild your enamel. You may also want to use a fluoride mouthwash.
- Try a remineralizing agent: Remineralization treatments can help replace the minerals that were lost as a result of plaque, acid and bacteria build-up. The idea is that this will stop the decay in its tracks and reduce the appearance of white spots. These treatments can be done at home or at the dentist, but more research is needed to determine their effectiveness.
- Talk to your Kelowna dentist about microabrasion: For more mild cases of decalcification, your dentist may be able to use microabrasion to buff away the white spots. Your dentist will simply polish the damaged teeth to make the spots less visible.
- Get dental veneers: If you’re dealing with severe white spots on your teeth, dental veneers can give you a pristine smile. But since the process involves permanently changing the shape of your teeth, we only recommend veneers as a last resort. Talk to your Kelowna orthodontic experts to see if veneers are right for you.
- Get serious about your oral hygiene: Even if you already have white spots, getting serious about brushing and flossing can help restore the health of your smile and prevent further damage from occurring. Brush your teeth after every snack, meal or beverage, and floss at least once a day. No excuses.
Braces are a tried-and-true method for straightening your teeth and perfecting your jaw alignment. If you take proper care of your teeth to keep them strong and healthy, you’ll be left with a beautiful, white smile that’ll make all the hard work worth it. If you do develop white spots on your teeth after braces, though, don’t panic. As a dentist practicing orthodontics in Kelowna, Dr. Scramstad can work with you to create a plan for removing your white spots to give you the smile you’ve been waiting for.
Have questions about preventing white spots after braces? Want to learn more about your white spot treatment options? Ready to get started with braces? Contact Align Ortho to book a complimentary consultation today.