After months of orthodontic treatment and a lot of hard work, the big day has arrived: your braces are coming off! What you want to see are straight, lovely teeth that are perfectly aligned to produce a comfortable, healthy bite. What you don’t want to see: a smattering of whitish spots around your gum line or around the area where your brackets used to be.
What are these white spots called? Is it possible to remove them? And how do you avoid them?
Decalcification, or the removal of minerals that strengthen our enamel, particularly calcium and phosphorus, causes those white spots. How does this happen? Bacteria and plaque make acids that eat away at these minerals when they remain on the teeth. As a result, the enamel becomes weakened and discolored. Unfortunately, decalcification is an all-too-common problem among orthodontic patients who do not brush carefully around their braces.
Cosmetic dentistry may be required to remove or decrease white spots on the enamel. They may fade over time or may be helped by teeth whitening in some cases. Tooth bonding or veneers may be used to cover the affected enamel in more difficult cases.
However, it goes without saying that prevention is always preferable to treatment. Here are some tips for keeping your enamel in good shape and looking its best:
• Brush your teeth thoroughly after each meal.
Decalcification—and cavities—can be greatly reduced by removing bacteria and plaque from your enamel and around your gum line. Brush after each meal, and ask our team at Georgia School of Orthodontics about the best cleaning products and methods for your teeth and appliances. Also, set aside the extra time necessary to brush around your braces.
Even though flossing is more difficult with brackets and wires, it is necessary for plaque removal. We have recommendations for special flosses intended for braces wearers, as well as tips on how to use them properly. If other flossing techniques aren’t working, a water flosser may help reduce plaque.
Fluoride aids in the remineralization of our teeth, replacing minerals that have been lost due to acid attacks. Remineralizing toothpastes or a fluoride rinse are also options.
Acidic foods raise mouth acidity, sugars provide bacteria with the fuel they need to make acids, and sticky foods keep bacteria on teeth and braces longer. We’ll advise you on the best foods to eat to keep your teeth healthy (and your braces in place) while you’re in treatment.
Plaque and tartar that home brushing has missed will be removed by a dental professional.
Take our advice to heart if we tell you that you need to devote more time to your cleaning routine or that you need to brush and floss more thoroughly. We’ll be thrilled to show you how to clean around your braces in the most efficient way possible. Our doctors and team will let you know the best dental products to suit your needs. We will recommend toothpastes and rinses that will help. We’ll advise you how much time you should spend brushing your teeth and how often you should brush.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have about keeping your teeth and braces clean. Always feel free to contact our Atlanta or Gwinnett offices if you have any questions or concerns about decalcification, discoloration, or any other potential issues. We want to make sure you have plenty of reasons to smile when your braces come off!