Whitening teeth while wearing braces may be a great concern for many dental patients. That is especially true because you may not be able to brush your teeth properly with your braces on, which accelerates tooth discoloration.
In this post:
- Why you should whiten your teeth before getting braces.
- Should you wait for the removal of your braces to whiten your teeth?
- How to whiten your teeth with braces? (Your best option, according to dentists!)
- Best whitening toothpaste for you while wearing braces.
Can you whiten your teeth while wearing braces?
Orthodontists recommend that you do not whiten your teeth while wearing braces. The reasons behind that are as follows.
- The brackets of the braces are attached to your teeth with extra-strong glue. The glue prevents them from getting loose and falling off.
- The whitening solution can’t reach under the brackets because the glue is waterproof.
- This will result in two shades of whiteness on your teeth when you remove the braces.
- Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide – one of these two chemicals is available in the whitening solution. Each can damage your braces.
- Whitening strips and whitening pens can also do the same. They also use either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide for whitening purposes.
- DIY whitening substance that is acidic may cause the same damage to your teeth.
- Your teeth are gradually shifting positions. You may feel increased gum irritation or sensitivity if you want to whiten your teeth while wearing braces.
- Sometimes people overdo their whitening job. This may thin your tooth enamel.
It is not to say that whitening with braces is impossible, but it is not recommended for the above reasons.
Teeth whitening before braces: Why this is important for you
Does that mean that you should whiten your teeth before taking braces?
Many dentists recommend this. The reasons are:
- You may not be able to whiten your teeth for some time. If your teeth are discolored, the discoloration will only get stronger while the braces treatment continues.
- You may not feel comfortable opening your mouth among people if you wear braces. Having discolored teeth may make you more uncomfortable.
- Discoloration may cause your teeth to look aged.
White teeth may get discolored during the braces treatment period. If yours are discolored, understand that one or more of the following may have happened.
- Plaque build-up around the brackets or under the wire of the braces. Plaque is a thin layer of bacteria. They penetrate your enamel and may reach the root of your teeth to destroy your jawbone.
- Plaque build-up may turn into tartar in time. Tartar is hard to remove without the help of a dentist. It is the calcified deposition that you see on your teeth. It may look brown or yellow.
- Tartar will prevent your teeth from receiving valuable minerals needed to stay strong and healthy.
- You have been unable to remove the external stains caused by pigmented food or drinks with your regular brushing schedule or toothpaste.
Considering such a situation, you may want to whiten your teeth before getting your braces. However, you must complete the whitening treatment at least two weeks before getting braces. After whitening, you need at least two weeks to return your teeth to normal sensitivity.
Whitening teeth after braces
It is ideal to wait some time after removing your braces to get your first in-office teeth whitening. Your teeth may not be in their best condition to withstand the force that comes with the whitening treatment.
Your dentist will be able to determine for you how long that waiting period should exactly be. Orthodontics Australia recommends waiting at least six months after removing your braces to whiten your teeth.
Braces cause (white) stains on your teeth. This is their common side effect. The stains result from demineralization, which happens when acidic substances damage the minerals on the surface of your teeth.
These stains do not go away quickly. You can’t remove them at home, either. What is more, they may deteriorate with time if left untreated.
You need to see a dentist to remove the white stains. It may happen that you will undergo a teeth whitening session.
However, you can help reduce the impact of the white stains by following these guidelines:
- Follow your regular brushing schedule (brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice daily).
- Use whitening toothpaste.
- A fluoride-rich mouthwash can be a great help to keep your mouth bacteria-free and your teeth strong.
- Whitening strips are useful at this time. Remember that they have their limits. They can’t bring the whiteness that an in-office whitening under a dentist can.
- You may also buy take-home whitening trays from your dentist.
- Avoid sugary, sticky food.
- Avoid drinking coffee, soda, and other pigmented drinks, including red wine.
Make sure that you give other dental work priority over the whitening treatment.
How can I prevent my teeth from turning yellow with braces?
Braces and their wire do not discolor your teeth. But they limit your capacity to reach all corners of your teeth, which may discolor some parts of the teeth in the long run. You can still expect to have a wonderful, white smile if you follow the guidelines below:
- Never neglect your daily brushing routine. Brush your teeth after every meal.
- Choose your foods and drinks carefully. Choose non-sticky, non-acidic foods.
- If you must eat sugary foods, rinse your mouth immediately after eating. Otherwise, avoid eating sugary items.
- Lemon is acidic. Rubbing your teeth with lemon may harm your enamel.
- Rubbing baking soda on your teeth may cause irreversible damage to them.
- Cut coffee and tea. Rinse your mouth after coffee and tea.
- Use a straw for drinking any liquid or liquid food. Straws will help minimize your teeth’s exposure to liquids that may cause stains on your teeth.
- Quit smoking.
- Red wine and pigmented fruit juice are to be avoided.
- Dental associations do not approve of using natural ingredients for whitening treatments. Better to stay away from such ingredients until after the braces.
Whitening with braces: The best solution
It seems you do not have a lot of options to choose from to whiten your teeth while wearing braces. Your only options are the following:
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- Choose a toothpaste that prevents or controls tartar.
- Use an orthodontic flosser or a water flosser to floss your teeth.
- Use a non-alcoholic mouthwash.
- Whitening toothpaste cannot whiten your teeth, not up to the shade you may want. But they can whiten your teeth to some degree. However, your dentist may recommend a specific whitening toothpaste or advise you not to use any.
According to Colgate, your best option may be to use whitening toothpaste and then go for a professional whitening treatment.
Fluoride toothpaste: Benefits
- Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel by mixing with it.
- It stops the demineralization of your teeth and helps their remineralization.
- It works with your saliva to stop plaque formation on your teeth.
- Fluoride fights tooth decay for you.
- Fluoride works against sugar in your mouth.
- It prevents food acids from harming your enamel.
- Fluoride disrupts gum disease.
- In the absence of fluoride, you have a higher chance of experiencing cavities.
You may want to whiten your discolored teeth after getting braces. But it may not be an easy task for you.
Laser whitening, in-office bleaching, take-home whitening trays from your dentist, whitening strips, or pens are not suitable for you now.
Your only option may be to use whitening toothpaste that contains fluoride. Choose a whitening toothpaste that bears the American Dental Association (ADA) seal.
Wait for six months before going for professional teeth bleaching after removing your braces.
Talk to your dentist about gum disease, tartar, tooth decay, or pulp infection during this time.
Whitening strips are not the best solution for your teeth while wearing braces. They can offer you only an uneven whiteness across your mouth because you cannot reach them under the brackets. Brackets are bonded to your teeth with strong, water-proof glue.
Choose dark-color braces to make a good contrast with the color of your teeth. Use fluoride toothpaste. Brush regularly. Whitening toothpaste can help but remember to talk to your dentist about this. Use a water flosser or orthodontic flosser. Choose your foods and drinks carefully to avoid plaque and tooth decay.
- Orthodontics Australia. Tips for teeth whitening after braces.
- Colgate. How To Whiten With Braces.
- Canadian Dental Association (CDA). Fluoride FAQs.
- Health, University of Utah. Are there benefits to using fluoride-free toothpaste?