Many patients expect their braces to come off, exposing a beautiful, white smile. However, the teeth are often not bright and sparkling when brackets and wires come off. This is why many patients opt to have teeth whitening treatments after their orthodontic treatment is over. You can even do it right after your braces come off. We can help you to know what you can expect when your braces come off and how to approach teeth whitening to brighten your smile!
Keeping Teeth Healthy During Braces
If you want whiter teeth when your braces come off, it does matter what you do during your time with braces. Your oral health habits and what you eat will make a big difference in the look of your teeth. With braces, teeth are much harder to clean, so with everything you eat, make sure you know what will happen with your teeth. Sugary foods will stick to your teeth more and might sit on your teeth longer, causing decay. Chips, nuts and hard foods can break brackets and wires and even your teeth. Certain drinks will dye your tooth enamel, and can leave uneven shades if you drink them a lot. Consider the following:
- Avoid hard foods that will break orthodontic appliances. These include: nuts, popcorn, corn on the cob, carrots, hard candy, chips, ice, apples and crusty bread.
- Don’t eat sticky foods, which are really hard to get out of brackets. These include: gum, caramel, Sugar Daddies, Skittles, taffies, Tootsie Rolls, gummies, fruit snacks, Starburst, licorice and similar foods.
- Sodas and carbonated drinks. Carbonic acid in these drinks will erode tooth enamel over time.
- Juices and Citrus: Citric acid erodes tooth enamel as well. Juices are generally high in sugar and can contain acids.
It’s also very important to keep your teeth clean. If you have drinks that are purple, blue, red, and other dark colors, these will all stain your teeth. When you do drink these drinks, make sure to brush afterwards (about 20 minutes after) to take away the dye. Keep your teeth clean all day long by continually brushing and flossing so your teeth can stay as white as possible. The more you do for your teeth when you have braces, the less you have to do afterwards.
When Your Braces Come Off
Many patients picture beautiful, white teeth when their braces come off. Even though your teeth will be beautiful and straight, they likely won’t be white. They will at least be the same color that they were when you got braces on your teeth. Depending on your oral health habits, your teeth might actually be darker if you had foods with dyes, tooth decay problems or didn’t brush and floss often. If your teeth aren’t white, don’t fret! Most patients do teeth whitening after their braces to get their new straight smile sparkling.
Teeth Whitening After Braces
Teeth whitening is one of the easiest dental services you can get. If you get teeth whitening through a dentist, you will have a dental hygienist whiten your teeth with professional-grade solutions. You will have teeth whitening materials placed on your teeth that will be set with ultraviolet light. Your teeth will then cure for 20-60 minutes until they reach the white shade you desire. This process can be done several times in-office on the same day, or spread out over several days if the teeth are sensitive.
Dentists also provide take-home professional-grade solutions that patients can do on their own time that work much quicker than toothpastes, strips or over-the counter treatments. With any teeth whitening you do, always double check the chemicals being used and what the process will be like. With a professional service, your results are usually guaranteed or the process is redone.
Tips to remember when doing teeth whitening:
- Many at-home products won’t whiten your teeth significantly. Many toothpastes only remove plaque or surface stains, but they don’t actually change the color of your teeth.
- When choosing over-the-counter products, look for ones with hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These will actually change the shade of your teeth whiter.
- Your best and quickest results will come from getting professional teeth whitening from a dentist. Teeth whitening can even be done in just one office visit, which is great for upcoming formal events or whitening your teeth when you have very little time.
Your Oral Health
Whether your goal is to have whiter teeth or to keep your natural teeth for your entire life, how well you take care of them will determine if you meet your oral health goals. If you never brush and floss your teeth, you can’t expect them to stay healthy. If you drink sodas and juices with dyes everyday, you can expect your teeth to stain. Having healthy teeth (and even white teeth) is fairly easy if you follow certain oral health guidelines:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, for at least 2 minutes every time, as recommended by the American Dental Association. If you wear braces, you should brush your teeth after every meal.
- Floss every day, 1-2 times. Flossing gets 40% of your tooth surfaces that get missed when people skip.
- Use fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride strengthens your teeth, and you can get fluoridated teeth whitening toothpastes.
- See your dentist! You need more than just an orthodontist, even though the orthodontist is very important. Seeing a professional who knows both orthodontics and dentistry is even better (like us). Every person should see their dentist for comprehensive exams and dental cleanings at least twice a year.
- See your orthodontist. When wearing braces, make sure you go to every orthodontic appointment. This helps your orthodontist know if dental problems like decay, erosion or staining are happening.
Following these guidelines can help you keep your natural teeth healthy and strong for life, even with your braces on. For more help taking care of your teeth or questions about teeth whitening after braces, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016!