At Smith and Davis Orthodontics, we stress the importance of great oral hygiene, especially during treatment with braces. Most of our patients do a great job of brushing and flossing regularly with braces to keep their oral health. On occasion, we get patients who aren’t as vigilant, and they see the results when their braces are removed — their teeth have white spots on them.
These white spots are the result of decalcification or a vitamin deficiency, or loss of minerals in the tooth’s enamel. It’s caused by poor oral hygiene. We know brushing and flossing can be a challenge with braces, but we have a few tips that can make it easier, so you don’t end up with white spots on your teeth!
What Are These White Spots?
White spots usually appear around where the braces bracket used to be, although they can appear anywhere on the tooth. These spots are called decalcification.
This is when you lose calcium in certain spots of your layer of enamel, that hard outer shell that protects your tooth. Decalcification is the first step toward tooth decay because it’s a weak spot that has formed in the enamel from low fluoride levels. Left untreated, that spot can develop into a cavity.
What Causes White Spots on Teeth?
These white spots occur when teeth are not brushed properly while wearing braces. You need to brush and floss regularly, but you also need to make sure that you brush well around the brackets. Food and plaque can be trapped around those brackets, and without proper brushing, that plaque can eat away at the enamel, causing the white spots on teeth. That’s why it’s so important to brush thoroughly and regularly, especially with braces.
You don’t have to have braces to get white stains on your teeth. They can also show up if you use Invisalign or even if you don’t have any orthodontic treatment.
Sugary and acidic foods can cause white stuff on teeth. This can include citrus fruits and fruit drinks, and soft drinks (yes, soft drinks have acid!). Combining acidic foods with poor hygiene is a recipe for white spots on teeth. Poor nutrition, chronic dry mouth, and enamel hypoplasia (thinning) also can cause white spots.
How Do I Prevent White Spots on Teeth?
The best way to prevent white spots on teeth is to brush and floss at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time. There are other tips that can help you keep your teeth spot-free.
- Use fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride toothpaste provides extra protection for your enamel, reducing your chances of white spots and tooth decay. Different amounts of toothpaste are up to the user, but make sure to use at least a pea-sized amount.
- Upgrade your toothbrush: If the bristles on your toothbrush look squashed, it’s time for a new toothbrush or, if you have an electric one, a new toothbrush head. Use soft bristles to prevent abrasive damage to your teeth.
- Clean your aligners: White spots don’t just happen with braces. Decalcification with Invisalign or other clear aligners is possible. Maintain good oral hygiene and keep your clear aligners clean.
- Visit us regularly: Your dentist or orthodontist can spot decalcification early and may be able to treat it before it gets too bad, so be sure to keep your appointments. Regular dental cleaning will also help prevent decalcification.
- Watch what you eat and drink: Acidic foods and foods high in sugar, from citrus to soft drinks, can lead to decalcification. Foods and drinks can also stain your teeth and clear aligners. These include coffee, tea, wine, fruit juices such as grape juice, and certain alcoholic beverages and cocktails. Tobacco can also stain your teeth.
- Don’t use whitening products with braces: You’ll get the opposite effect — yellow or brown spots on teeth — because the whitening products can’t penetrate the bonding agent that holds your brackets to your teeth. So wait to whiten until after your braces treatment!
Protecting Your Teeth With Braces
There are ways to provide extra protection to your teeth while in braces. You can use certain products to reduce your chances of tooth decay.
If you’re having trouble flossing, try using a floss threader. It looks like a sewing needle with a giant eye, but it’s actually made of very thin plastic that can slide between your teeth. You thread the dental floss through the eye and slide the floss threader under the wires of the braces and through your teeth. That way, you can floss properly and reduce your chances of tooth decay between your teeth.
It’s recommended you use dental floss once a day. During the other times you brush (preferably after every meal, but at least in the morning and at night), you might consider using a water flosser to remove plaque and particles from around your brackets and between your teeth. While the water flosser doesn’t take the place of brushing and flossing with dental floss, it can help keep your teeth clean between flossing with dental floss, and it can even be used between brushing.
Mouthwash is also a great way to provide extra protection to your teeth. Fluoride mouthwash can go places your toothbrush may not be able to reach well, and it can provide extra protection for your enamel. Wait 30 minutes after you brush to use mouthwash so the fluoride in your toothpaste has time to work. Then wait 30 minutes after using your mouthwash before eating or drinking, so the fluoride there has time to protect your enamel fully.
Braces Treatment in Rogers, AR
White spots on teeth after braces are easy to prevent. Just brush and floss regularly and see your dentist and orthodontist during your scheduled appointments. Schedule an appointment with Smith and Davis Orthodontics if you’re in the Rogers, AR, area. We can treat you with clear braces or Invisalign and can tell whether you’re doing well with brushing and flossing or if you need to do more or get a bit more protection.
Proper brushing and flossing will keep your teeth healthy and strong throughout your treatment plan, so when your braces are removed, all you’ll see is your beautiful new smile!