Teeth whitening with braces- what are your options?
Braces are great for straightening your smile. But after a while, you may notice your teeth have become yellower. Well, you aren’t alone in this—many people who have braces face this problem, especially if their oral hygiene was not up to par during treatment. Luckily, there are steps you can take and products you can use to prevent teeth discolouration when wearing braces.
Why teeth discolour when wearing braces
Teeth discolour when wearing braces for several reasons. At the top of the list is the deposit and accumulation of tartar and plaque. With braces, it is harder to clean your teeth properly. Over time, food particles stick to the teeth leading to subtle discolouration until they are visibly yellow.
The food you eat and drink also promotes bacteria attachment and teeth staining. The bacteria flood the enamel with toxins that cause them to lose their opalescence over time. Drinks like black coffee, cola, red wine, balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce, and beets are the most popular culprits of teeth staining.
How teeth whitening works
Dentists recommend using active chemicals like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth. These chemicals are safe and highly effective if used as instructed by your cosmetic dentist to avoid experiencing side effects.
Hydrogen peroxide has been helpful in teeth whitening for a long time. When applied to the teeth, it reacts with the enamel, brightening it. It also gets rid of stains in the dentin, which may be the cause of discolouration.
Although most teeth whitening treatments don’t impact your teeth, some may cause tooth sensitivity if left on for too long.
Should you whiten your teeth with or after braces?
While teeth whitening with dental braces is safe, brackets cause limitations. Whitening results using whitening gels, strips, or toothpaste are seen on the exposed enamel but not so much on the covered bits. So ideally, one should always wait to finish orthodontic treatment before whitening teeth for the best results. However, a few options exist should one wish to improve the shade of their teeth while wearing braces.
If you are looking for a dentist in Malta or dentist in Gozo, you can book a dental appointment online at one of Savina Dental Clinics, or contact us directly on (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport), or (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo). For international patients, it is recommended to request a free e-consultation where we can discuss your individual case and treatment options.
Teeth whitening options while wearing braces
Individuals with clear aligners (like Invisalign braces) or removable braces are better candidates for whitening strips, trays, and gels. But for even better results, those with braces should wait until they are removed. Below are some teeth-whitening products or processes you can use with braces.
In-office whitening treatment is highly effective for individuals with lingual or removable braces. These braces leave the front teeth’s surface uncovered. The process is completed in one dental visit and involves a bleaching agent that lifts stains. Special UV lighting or laser may be used in some situations to quicken the whitening process.
If you have traditional braces, we recommend waiting until removing them. This is because the brackets at the front of your teeth prevent even whitening. When the braces are removed, you’ll have two-toned teeth.
Whitening strips are a great at-home inexpensive, safe, and effective process. The whitening strips are laced with peroxide or a bleaching agent, which whitens teeth over several applications.
You will need to apply the whitening strips over your teeth once or twice daily for about 45 minutes. Be careful not to leave them for too long lest you develop tooth sensitivity or gum irritation.
Like in-office whitening procedures, whitening strips have limitations, too – you can only use them with lingual braces or clear and removable aligners to avoid uneven whitening.
Whitening trays are also an ideal option that involves bleaching agents and custom whitening trays moulded to teeth. They work by adding a tiny amount of whitening gel in the tray and then inserting the tray over the teeth and leaving them on for between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Repeat the treatment each day until you get the result you want. The process takes about three weeks. You may have mild sensitivity, which is normal. If you experience more severe sensitivity, stop treatment and contact your dentist.
Again, they aren’t possible to use with traditional braces. But if you have removable aligners or lingual braces, you can make them work.
Whitening toothpaste and mouthwash
Unlike whitening trays and strips, you can use whitening toothpaste and mouthwash with traditional braces to achieve a brighter smile. Whitening toothpaste is made with abrasive particles that scrub away enamel stains. Some also have chemicals that dissolve the stains. Whitening mouthwash freshens your breath and protects the teeth against new stains.
Many whitening toothpastes tend to be too abrasive for daily use (they can cause enamel wear), but using them once or twice a week is safe. Your dentist can recommend a whitening toothpaste with low abrasivity for more frequent use. Whitening mouthwash can be used once daily for great results.
Electric toothbrushes lift the surface stains and whiten teeth. They don’t contain bleaching agents, but they remove stains better than regular toothbrushes, leaving you with whiter teeth.
Electric toothbrushes are used just like you would use a traditional toothbrush. It would be even better to purchase one with an orthodontic head for braces. The rapid bristle motion may be slightly uncomfortable if you have sensitive teeth or gums. It helps to get one with variable speed settings to control sensitivity.
Preventing tooth discolouration while wearing braces
Some teeth stains can be prevented by following proper oral hygiene. Here are a few tips;
- Brush your teeth for two minutes and floss to eliminate food particles stuck between your teeth and the underwire of your traditional braces.
- Limit foods and drinks that cause staining. Highly acidic and sugary beverages and foods can cause tooth damage.
- Avoid tobacco products, as they can harm the gums and stain your teeth.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for teeth cleaning and enquire about fluoride treatments during and before braces to prevent discolouration.
If you have traditional braces, stick to whitening mouthwash and toothpaste. These won’t leave you with two-toned teeth and are gentle on gums and teeth. You should undergo a teeth whitening procedure after removing traditional braces for the best results.
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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at its disposal.