You got braces to make your smile brighter and better, but maybe your teeth aren’t as pearly white as you’d like. Can you whiten teeth with braces?
Though whitening your teeth with braces presents a few challenges, it’s possible.
Here are some things to think about before you make a decision:
Whitening Teeth with Braces
Some people worry about light spots on their teeth when braces are removed – this happens when your teeth aren’t cleaned completely throughout orthodontic treatment and they become stained and yellowed, while the enamel under your braces is prevented from staining and yellowing.
Avoiding this unattractive situation is easy.
Follow your orthodontist’s instructions regarding cleaning and care of your teeth with braces, and reduce your consumption of tooth staining substances like coffee, red wine, and tobacco. Your teeth will stay as white as they were when your brackets were first applied.
Your teeth might already be showing signs of yellowing, though, and if they were stained before treatment began, the appearance of braces on less-than-white teeth can draw attention to the imperfections of your smile and make you feel even more self conscious. Those brackets are going to make your smile great for a lifetime, but for now, you’re uncomfortably aware of your mouth.
In that case, bleaching might seem like an ideal solution. You’ve got months of treatment left with your brackets, but at least you can whiten your smile in the meantime, right?
Whitening your teeth while you have braces might work for you.
Be warned that bleaching your teeth can cause increased sensitivity, and if your mouth is already sore from treatment, that can be very uncomfortable.
Having your teeth whitened with braces can also cause yellow squares on your teeth when the brackets are removed for the same reason you get white spots if your teeth are stained during treatment.
The treatment only whitens the exposed parts of your tooth enamel, and when your treatment is done and your braces are taken off, you’ll need another treatment to bleach the spots that were missed, and you might end up with stripes of colors on your teeth even after the follow-up spot treatment. If your braces are applied to the backs of your teeth, this generally is not a problem.
If you’re not concerned with sensitivity or missed spots, carefully whitening your teeth with braces is an option.
How to Whiten Teeth With Braces
There are different kinds of tooth whitening and bleaching options. Some are more focused on removing superficial stains and buildup, while others penetrate your tooth enamel to lighten and whiten.
Whitening toothpastes are designed to remove topical stains on your teeth to brighten your smile.
It’s safe to use whitening toothpastes with braces, and if you’re concerned about some minor staining and yellowing of your teeth, they’re probably the best way to whiten your teeth during orthodontic treatment because they’re unlikely to cause uneven coloring when your brackets are removed, and you shouldn’t have issues with increased sensitivity and discomfort.
For those who need a more aggressive whitening treatment, it’s time to consult your dentist for a little extra help.
At-home whitening gels are available in pens and trays, but since those whitening trays aren’t designed to make room for brackets, you’ll need to get special trays from your dentist so that you get complete coverage and don’t risk damaging your braces.
Using these whitening trays with braces often causes discomfort and sensitivity, so if your mouth is already a little sore, it’s probably best to wait.
Your dentist might also offer in-office treatments to whiten your enamel. If you choose this option, you’ll probably want to schedule a follow-up to whiten the spots where your brackets were, or just wait until your braces are taken off to brighten your smile.
Always consult your dentist or orthodontist before using a whitening gel on your teeth while you have braces, since some products can damage your brackets.
In most cases, your best option for whitening teeth with braces is scrupulously keeping up with cleanliness and dental hygiene. Be sure to clean around brackets, under wires, and between teeth to keep your smile as bright as possible. Use a whitening toothpaste, and if you need a little extra help, go for a whitening treatment after your brackets are removed.