You spent time in braces to enjoy healthier, straighter teeth. So what happens when you have white spots or yellow stains on your teeth after braces?
To treat unsightly yellow stains or white spots on teeth, you first need to understand what it is that causes them. From there, we can learn how to get rid of “braces stains” and keep your smile looking its best.
Causes and removal are what this post is all about and even how to avoid them.
What Causes White Spots on Your Teeth When You Have Braces?
White spots on teeth are one of the most common side-effects of plaque buildup during orthodontic treatment. Since plaque contains acidic bacterial byproducts (also responsible for tooth decay), the sticky film can damage your enamel’s outer layers. If you don’t remove it thoroughly each day by brushing and flossing, the tooth gradually weakens and loses its integrity. This process can create a chalky-white appearance in those specific areas.
The problem with braces is that the additional surface areas take extra time and effort to clean each day. There is always the potential for certain places to get overlooked, leaving plaque buildup behind. Day after day, those areas suffer the side-effects of tiny layers of biofilm. Once the braces are removed, and it’s easy to brush, you can see where white spots on teeth formed just around the orthodontic brackets’ edges.
How to Remove White Spots on Teeth After Braces
Unfortunately, there’s no way for you to remove white spots on your own. Working with a great cosmetic dentist can provide you with various treatments for white spot removal after braces. Depending on the extent of the staining and how many teeth are involved, the process may be as simple as whitening your teeth. More discoloured areas could require a modest restoration placed over them to hide them from plain view entirely.
What Causes Yellow and Brown Braces Stains?
“Braces stains” that aren’t white are usually due to something besides enamel demineralization. For instance, perhaps the tooth started to develop an area of decay, but a re-vamped oral hygiene routine allowed the tooth to remineralize. When that happens, it sometimes leaves a brown stain as a “scar” in the tooth.
Other times, everyday things like tea, coffee, red wine, or similar stain-causing food items cause “braces stains.” Since teeth are porous, they absorb the stain particles of dark liquids and foods we consume. If it’s not rinsed away or cleaned regularly, people with braces may seem to get extra stain accumulation between their dental checkups.
Brown and yellow stains may also be indicative of tartar buildup. Tartar — also called dental calculus — is calcified plaque. It takes on a hard, rock-like texture. Depending on how long the tartar buildup has been there and what your lifestyle habits are like, it can stain more. By the time you have it professionally cleaned, the tartar may be yellow, brown, or even black or green. Fortunately, it’s not necessarily associated with braces stains, and during a routine checkup, it can be removed.
How to Get Rid of Brown and Yellow Stains After Braces
Depending on the cause of your discolouration, there may be different options for how to get rid of braces stains. The best method for you may be different than someone else, so always be sure to work with an experienced dentist. Some of the most popular white spots treatments include techniques like:
Dental Bleaching — Teeth whitening may work for some areas of mild tooth discolouration associated with white spots. However, the white spots will typically be more visible initially and gradually blend in with the surrounding enamel further into the whitening process.
Microabrasion — Sometimes, we can gently buff or etch the white spot and surrounding area, then place a strengthening product into the tooth to “rehydrate” the dehydrated enamel areas. Depending on how well they absorb the product, it can reduce the severity of the braces discoloration.
Enamel Infiltration — there are dental products that provide significant results in situations that don’t respond well to other white spot treatment types. These techniques use an infiltration process that fills in the porous areas with a particular kind of resin. The strengthened surface takes on the tooth’s shade around it, even if you bleach your teeth later.
Cosmetic Bonding or Dental Veneers — For moderate to severe discolouration, it may be best to place a permanent cosmetic restoration over the tooth’s front. Bonding is ideal for smaller areas, while veneers cover the entire front-side of the respective teeth. Since bonding is placed chairside, it only requires one appointment. Custom veneers are created in a lab, so two visits are required.
How to Avoid White Spots and Braces Stains
If you’re about to get braces or are in the middle of orthodontic treatment, here are some crucial steps:
- Schedule regular checkups and cleanings to remove buildup and identify areas that you’re missing.
- Talk to your dentist, hygienist, or orthodontic team about specific cleaning tools and methods to maintain hard-to-reach areas.
- Invest in an electric toothbrush and water flosser. Use them each day.
- Incorporate fluoride supplements — such as gels or rinses — into your daily oral hygiene routine. Fluoride can help re-mineralize weak enamel before acidic plaque etches its way into a white spot lesion.
When to See a Dentist
If you have white spots on teeth — before, during, or after braces — our Ottawa dental practice can help. We’ll show you methods to aesthetically address the visible flaws and take steps to keep your smile healthy. Don’t dismiss coloration as “braces stain”; your smile is an accessory you’ll have for life!
For more information on tooth discolouration treatments or to speak with a dentist about treating white spots, contact Parkdale Dental Centre in Ottawa today.