Q: I just got my braces off and my teeth are straight, but now I have white spots on my front teeth!
Unfortunately, these spots are permanent damage to your teeth and are areas of decalcification where bacterial acid have dissolved the enamel during orthodontic treatment.
Did your dentist alert you to these spots during treatment?
Typically, they do, when these spots initially begin to appear. They may warn you to start brushing better and may have mentioned the word “decalcification.” They obviously become more visible once ortho braces are removed and the look, texture and size of these spots will depend on the degree of severity.
When bacteria metabolize the sugars you ingest they excrete an acid onto your tooth surface. This acid is capable of breaking down the tissues that make up your tooth. Your saliva is rich in essential minerals and is the body’s natural way of repairing the damage from these “acid attacks”, but sometimes, the demineralization far outweighs any remineralization that the saliva can accomplish.
When this occurs, the tooth area in question begins to lose it’s shine and takes on a chalky, rough look due to surface etching. The amount of enamel surface lost over time can be considerable enough to not only cause a very defined white spot, but it can eventually become deep enough to result in an actual cavity. Tooth decay after braces is not uncommon; it occurs far more often than you would think. Some patients have to have their orthodontic treatment stopped and the braces removed because their poor oral hygiene is causing so much damage!
Brushing your teeth effectively when you have braces on can be a challenge because food debris and plaque accumulate in, around and under the orthodontic bands and brackets making removal difficult. Extra effort is needed to make sure you are getting your toothbrush into all the nooks and crannies where food and plaque can hide.
Your orthodontist will recommend various orthodontic tooth brushing aids to help you accomplish this more easily. And since braces are typically worn for several years, this extra care is essential to keep teeth and gums free from the harmful effects of dental plaque.
“If you were not diligent about brushing your teeth before braces, you may find the new dental hygiene routine with braces very demanding”
You Get What you Give
A frank and honest discussion with your orthodontist before treatment begins is a very important step. Knowing and understanding the pro and cons of treatment will help equip you with all the information you need to make an informed decision before considering braces.
EFFORT is like TOOTHPASTE… You can always squeeze out a little more!
Cleaning your teeth will not be the only battle you may face with braces, but like anything in life – the effort you put forth is an indicator of the value you place on your smile and your interest in having healthy teeth.
Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy…
Having nice straight teeth with an ideal bite makes for a beautiful smile. However, if they are marred with these permanent white spots or riddled with cavities it can affect your smile for years to come, so you’ve really just traded one dental problem for another.
Getting rid of these white spots depends on the severity and can include one or a combination of these options:
Remineralization – Your dental professional can place a mineral rich solution on the affected areas to try to minimize the damage, strengthen the weakened area and restore some of the essential minerals back onto the tooth surface. This is only effective when the damage is not severe.
Whitening – The white spots are noticeable because they are whiter than the normal colour of enamel. Tooth whitening procedures can help lighten your natural tooth colour to a shade that is closer to that of the white spot. The long term effectiveness of whitening depends on how easily your tooth picks up staining. It is considered a temporary solution because it usually has to be repeated as needed and you will come to know how often your situation demands.
Microbrasion – If the surface damage is very minimal, there is a procedure that essentially “sands” or rubs away the white spot with a fine rock/acid mixture until the underlying natural enamel is exposed. Different people have different variations of thickness to their tooth enamel, so this technique depends on how deep the dentist must go to reach new enamel.
Fillings – If the white spot is too deep then your dentist can “scoop it out” using the drill and replace it with a white filling material that most closely matches your natural tooth shade.
Dental Veneers – Dental veneers are very thin porcelain coverings for the front surface of your teeth. They are a quick and easy way to hide marks and discolouration of the enamel. This procedure is generally advised when the other options have been tried already or the spotting is too widespread.
Straightening Things Out
Your home care can dramatically minimize your health care risks during orthodontic treatment. Following the tips below will help ensure that when your braces are removed you are putting your best SMILE forward!.
- Brush 3 x/day carefully and effectively
- Use orthodontic cleaning aids
- Choose water over sugary/acidic drinks
- Stay away from highly acidic, sugary and sticky foods
- Use a fluoride toothpaste
- Rinse once/day with an antiseptic mouth rinse
- Maintain regular dental checkups
- Ensure that your orthodontist is examining your teeth for signs of decalcification
- Avoid snacking in between meals
At Your Smile Dental Care, we cannot stress enough the importance of proper home care for everyone. This is especially true when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment and have braces that can trap food and plaque easily. By raising your awareness and taking the time and effort to implement the tips above into your daily routine you will be making a great investment in your future SMILE!