We especially don’t like stains when they occur on our teeth, and little can tarnish the excitement of Braces-Off Day like discolored patches around where the brackets used to be. Why do stains occur on our teeth, and how can you make sure that doesn’t happen to you during your orthodontic treatment?
Stains for former orthodontic patients are not at all inevitable, even if they are somewhat common. The braces themselves aren’t what stain teeth. What makes stains happen as often as they do is that braces can be tricky to effectively brush and floss around. They create many new nooks and crannies where food and bacteria can hide, out of reach of a toothbrush.
If that plaque remains in place, it can leave decalcified patches on the surface of the tooth around the bracket. Then, when the braces come off, the area underneath the bracket will still be the same color it was before the braces went on but the surrounding area will have a bleached appearance. Aside from the dental health reasons to eliminate plaque, this is a pretty compelling aesthetic reason for it.
The best defense against white spots and other stains is a good oral hygiene routine. That means brushing thoroughly at least twice a day (with braces, it’s a good idea to brush after every meal), flossing at least once a day, and continuing to make your regular dental appointments. Your hygienist will be able to get rid of any plaque or tartar that you couldn’t reach.
It’s also a good idea to avoid any foods or drinks that have a tendency to stain, including highly acidic drinks (like soda), coffee, dark teas, sugary treats like candy or cookies, and starch-filled snacks like chips. These could either stain teeth directly with the dark-colored compounds in them or they could stick to your teeth and contribute to plaque buildup.
Other big stain-causing culprits we strongly encourage you to avoid are tobacco and alcohol. They’re bad for anyone’s dental health but can cause even more problems for the teeth of braces-wearers.
Some foods can stain your braces too!
It’s best to avoid post-braces stains in the first place, but in case some discoloration does occur, there are ways of addressing it. We don’t recommend doing whitening treatments right away, because some stains become less prominent over time on their own. If they remain more obvious than you would like after a few months, professional or over-the-counter whitening options could help you achieve a smile more uniform in color.
If you have any questions left about how to prevent stains or remove them after your treatment, we’re happy to answer them. We’re rooting for all of our patients having a stain-free smile so that nothing gets in the way of them enjoying their new, properly-aligned smiles!