At Carter & Higgins Orthodontics, we go at a slower pace than most orthodontic offices. By taking our time during each appointment, we know that each patient is getting very high-quality treatment — from the minor aesthetic details that we fuss over to the bigger picture. So when it comes to finishing your treatment with a beautiful smile, teeth stains from braces are the last thing you want to experience. Our team is here to not only straighten your teeth but also teach you how to care for your oral health and prevent braces stains.
Why do some patients have stained teeth from braces?
So why do braces stains happen? Basically, when you have braces, the brackets and wires that work so hard to straighten your teeth also create more surfaces for plaque buildup. The plaque can build up not only around your brackets but also along your gumline. In some cases, a patient will notice white marks on their teeth where their brackets used to be. This happens because the brackets are bonded to your teeth with an air-tight seal, which prevents any staining from happening under the bracket. Without careful oral hygiene throughout treatment, you may notice stained teeth after braces are removed.
While regular brushing with braces and flossing are essential to keeping your teeth clean and healthy, there are a few big reasons that some patients experience braces stains.
Sugary Snacks and Drinks
Certain sugary foods and drinks cause stained teeth — both with and without braces. And while most of us have grown up hearing variations of “Sugar! Bad!” by dentists, doctors, and moms, you might not know that the frequency that you indulge in sugary snacks may have more of an impact on your teeth than the quantity of sugar. If you’re not ready to swear off sugar altogether (we don’t blame you!), then the best way to prevent braces stains is to save the sweets for special treats.
Remember: Foods high in starch (e.g., potatoes, rice, bread, pasta) actually contain a form of sugar. These foods can make your saliva more acidic and leave sugar on your teeth. So it’s not always the obvious culprits like candy and soda that you want to be on the lookout for.
The reason that frequent snacking can lead to stained teeth and tooth decay is a little on the technical side. But basically, what happens when you eat and drink is the pH level in your mouth can drop. A pH level lower than 7 is considered acidic — which can be a problem because acid weakens teeth. Frequent snacking causes your mouth to stay at lower pH levels, which wears down your enamel over time. We certainly can’t stop eating and drinking just to avoid stained teeth. So what’s the answer? Make sure you give yourself plenty of breaks between meals and drinks to give your mouth a chance to return to a more neutral pH.
Acidic and Sticky Foods
For the same reason that frequent snacking causes staining problems, acidic foods and drinks should be seen as a special, occasional treat (if they can’t be avoided). The acid in these items can erode our tooth enamel, which weakens the teeth, leaving them more prone to braces stains and cavities.
How to Keep Your Teeth White with Braces
One of the reasons we like to take our time with each patient is so we can educate you and your child about the best way to brush and floss with braces. We even have a guide on how to make brushing fun for kids. The best possible way to prevent braces stains is to follow a careful oral health routine throughout treatment. We understand that keeping your teeth white with braces is even more difficult — and more important.
Here are our best tips for keeping your teeth white with braces:
Brush After Every Meal
If braces stains happen because of plaque buildup, the best defense is to remove the plaque before it has a chance to do any damage to your teeth. At a minimum, we recommend brushing your teeth twice daily. But while you have braces, it’s best to brush after every meal.
Floss At Least Once a Day
The biggest reason we see patients pass on flossing is that they think they need to floss every single time they brush. While you can do this, it’s more important to floss at least once daily.
Drink with a Straw
Avoiding acidic beverages altogether is often more than people are willing to commit to. While “no coffee” is technically best for your teeth — who are we kidding? Life without iced coffee is just… worse. So instead of cutting it out completely, try to limit the amount of liquid that touches the teeth. That’s why drinking with a straw can help prevent teeth staining.
Drink Water When You Break the “Rules”
Ideally, a patient will brush their teeth every time they indulge in sugary or acidic food/drinks. But simply drinking water afterward can help to prevent stains by washing the sugar or acid away.
Avoid Teeth Whitening Products
While this might sound counterintuitive, we encourage our patients to avoid at-home whitening products while they’re in braces. This includes whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, and whitening mouthwash. The reason to avoid these during treatment is the same reason some patients see white marks on their teeth after braces. Your brackets attach to your teeth with an air-tight bond, and teeth-whitening products only work on the surfaces they touch.
So if you want to finish treatment with a beautiful, white, even smile, it’s important to wait until your treatment is complete to use teeth-whitening products.
There’s a long list of great reasons to stop or avoid smoking. If you need one more reason to kick the habit, smoking cigarettes is problematic from an orthodontic perspective because cigarette smoke:
- Stains teeth yellow
- Makes your teeth more prone to plaque buildup
- Can cause damage to your gums and the bones in your mouth, possibly affecting your orthodontic results
Treat Yourself To Foods That Help Prevent Stains
While there’s a long list of foods to avoid with braces, there are a few foods that are great for your preventing teeth stains:
- Water (of course)
Avoid Braces Stains for a Beautiful Smile
We are your Tulsa orthodontist, and we’re here to help you get the smile of your dreams! Smiles are often the first thing you’ll notice about someone, and we want each of our patients to feel confident sharing that smile with everyone around them. That’s why we work with our patients to straighten their smiles and prevent stained teeth after braces. Book your consultation if you’re ready to start your braces journey!