When you wear braces, teeth whitening looks pretty appealing. But is it okay to whiten your teeth while you are wearing them? Keep reading and you'll find some answers about cleaning and teeth whitening that maybe you hadn't considered before.
Proper Cleaning for a Better White
The first step to good, white teeth while wearing braces is proper cleaning. To prevent discoloration (and embarrassing light spots where the braces were) once your braces removed, you should:
- Use the Right Toothbrush: Ask your orthodontist or dentist to recommend a toothbrush for you. The right toothbrush will get into the tight spaces between your teeth and the wires on your braces.
- Brush Often: 3 times a day is not too much! In fact, you should brush your teeth about 30 minutes after each meal to remove food that has gotten stuck in your braces. This combats bacteria buildup – which in turn prevents stains.
- See Your Dentist: Don't forgo dental cleanings simply because you have braces and are seeing an orthodontist. The best way to prevent unwanted yellow teeth during this time is to continue your regular cleanings with a dentist. The equipment they use will get into all those nooks and crannies created by the braces and help fight plaque.
Advice for Using Whitening Products
While a good cleaning is helpful, sometimes it just doesn't cut it. Sometimes, you will look in the mirror and wish you could pull out that half box of teeth whitening strips because you can just tell that your teeth are darker. If you are anxious to use whitening products, consider this advice first:
- Whitening Strips: Only use whitening strips on tooth surfaces without braces. For instance, if you have braces in the back of your teeth instead of the front, or removable braces, then whitening strips are safe to use.
- Whitening Gels: The same advice goes for gels as for strips. Products that come in direct contact with the metal on your braces pose a risk to the braces – the reacting agents break down the glue bonding the braces to your teeth. Avoid expensive repairs by holding off on whitening.
- Laser Treatment: This option is up to you and your orthodontist/dentist. While you are still encouraged to wait on laser whitening, it won't harm your braces or teeth to get it done now. Just keep in mind that the color of your teeth beneath your braces will remain unchanged. Unless you had white teeth beforehand, small squares of discoloration will be visible once your braces are removed, and another whitening session will be needed.
- Whitening Agents: Keep in mind that concentrated whitening agents such as gels and strips increase tooth sensitivity. If you are already sore and sensitive from wearing braces, it's best to wait until they are removed.
Harmless Techniques for Braces Wearers
While some traditional teeth whitening options are out, don't despair! There's a lot you can do to keep those pearly whites. In addition to regular and proper cleaning, you can try these less-intensive options for teeth whitening with braces:
- Teeth Whitening Toothpaste: Instead of using a gel, find a good whitening toothpaste. The whitening agents in toothpastes are less concentrated. They are designed for everyday use with gradual results, so they won't break down your braces, either.
- Baking Soda: Something you can do from home is create a baking soda paste by adding water to a small amount of baking soda. Brush this on to your teeth, then rinse thoroughly. This option can help whiten teeth and remove stains on your bands at the same time.
- Save For Later: While this may not be your first choice, you might decide it's best to save up some money and get a major whitening treatment once your braces are removed.
While there are ways to keep your teeth white while wearing braces, concentrated whitening methods should be avoided until the braces are removed. In the meantime, try a harmless toothpaste option, or talk to your dentist about laser treatment with braces.