Whitening with Braces: What to Consider

Whitening with Braces

Braces are the tried and true method to solve many orthodontic and cosmetic issues. This is achieved through constant pressure on your teeth via brackets and wires, aiming for the perfect smile.

However, fixing the position of your teeth often highlights other issues. Namely, the yellowing of your teeth from surface stains.

Many Australians want to remedy this issue whilst they are still wearing braces, which can be difficult and risky depending on what type of braces are worn. This guide will go over the best whitening treatment while wearing metal, lingual or ceramic braces, as well as what can be done to maintain a bright and straight smile.

Why Are My Teeth Turning Yellow with Braces?

There are many reasons why your teeth are not as white as you want them to be, which can be categorised within:

Extrinsic (surface) Stains

Consuming staining substances can leave a buildup that stains them yellow. These issues are exacerbated when wearing braces, as cleaning around brackets makes attempts to remove surface stains much harder.

Intrinsic Stains

Less common than surface stains, discolouration occurs from issues under the surface of your teeth. Genetics, medical conditions like gum disease, mouth trauma or certain medicines can all be reasons. These are issues that usually pre-exist in braces and may only become noticeable when you spend more time focusing on your teeth.

If you see signs of discolouration, there are several solutions to whiten teeth with braces.

Can You Do Teeth Whitening with Braces?

There are plenty of teeth whitening options on the market, even when you wear braces. These methods are not just limited to professional teeth whitening, as several at-home treatments are also available.

The whitening process you choose depends on what type of braces you have, as the wires and front-facing brackets of traditional braces like metal or ceramic disrupt most whitening treatments. Lingual braces and removable braces have a much easier time.

To get a better picture of how each structure can disrupt the whitening process, a description of each type is displayed below.

  • Metal braces: Square metal fixtures called brackets are fixed to the front of your teeth, with wires joining them together to exert pressure. Sometimes rubber bands will be stretched between the upper and lower jaw to aid in this process.
  • Ceramic braces: Almost identical to metal braces, this type of orthodontic care uses a clear ceramic material for the brackets, rather than metal, to blend into your teeth better. A preferred method for those who want more discrete traditional braces.
  • Lingual braces: Also known as “inside” braces, this method hides the brackets and wires on the inside of your teeth, rather than the outside.
  • Removable braces: This category encompasses any set of braces that are intended to be removed only for eating or when cleaning your teeth. Much like whitening trays, these braces are clear plastic. Clear aligners come under this category and must be changed for a new pair every week or so to continue perfecting your smile.

For more information on the different types of braces and treatment plans, head to our braces service page

However, it should be noted that the best whitening treatments for people with braces are those available after brace removal.

Whitening Toothpaste and Mouthwash

Whitening toothpaste and mouthwash are used 2-3 times daily to lift stains and prevent new ones from forming, done through the abrasiveness of silica and bleaching, respectively. They are also easily accessible, as they can be found at groceries, pharmacies or online.

However, some whitening kinds of toothpaste may use a bleaching agent, which can cause gum irritation or enamel wear. Still, whitening toothpaste and mouthwash can be used on any orthodontic treatment with no risks to the braces, meaning it is the safest choice to whiten teeth.

However, they are a mild treatment, meaning their effects are limited.

Electric Toothbrush

An electric toothbrush does not use any chemicals, simply removing surface stains better than a regular toothbrush through its vibrations. In fact, some models even have a head made specifically for people with braces.

While it may not whiten your teeth to an obvious degree, it is a good deterrent to new stains forming. Some may be sensitive to the automatic motions, but it should not necessarily cause further gum or tooth sensitivity in most people.

Like whitening mouthwashes or toothpaste, this whitening option can be used on all braces and is found in similar stores.

Whitening Strips

This whitening solution places a whitening strip over your teeth twice a day for up to an hour. Thus, if you have traditional braces with brackets and wires attached to the front of your mouth, this bleaching option is not available for you.

Most pharmacies or online stores supply whitening strips, but it should be noted that, much like whitening mouthwash and toothpaste, this process to whiten your teeth can cause gum irritation or tooth sensitivity from the bleaching.

Whitening Trays

Whitening trays are moulded to your teeth, making them customisable for orthodontic patients.

Bleaching gels are inserted into the trays before being placed in the mouth for up to an hour daily. This acts the same way as whitening strips to slowly bleach the teeth over 2-3 weeks. Side effects can include gum and tooth sensitivity, but if you find yourself experiencing no irritation, you can wear the whitening trays for longer, expediting the process.

As a result, you cannot use this option if you have ceramic or metal braces. The brackets and wires on the front of the teeth block the whitening gel from accessing the enamel. Consequently, leaving behind darker squares that failed to bleach after the braces are removed.

Dentists can offer whitening kits, but you can achieve similar results with an at-home kit.

Home Whitening Solutions

Beyond these authentic whitening products, there are DIY solutions that you can attempt at home. However, there is no scientific proof that these methods work, meaning that it is much safer to trust professional teeth whitening options.

DIY methods include:

  • Coconut oil pulling: Using store-bought coconut oil like mouthwash, this option is generally offered to kill bad mouth bacteria, prevent tooth decay, and improve gum health. Its effects on reducing tooth stains are not proven, but many claim swishing the oil in their mouth for 15-20 minutes is a valid whitening method.
  • Fruit peels: Generally used with banana peels, this method claims that the potassium, magnesium and manganese in these peels absorb into your enamel when rubbed on them to make your teeth white. Again, this method is not scientifically proven, and it is unlikely that a peel from your local grocery will give you whiter teeth.
  • Vinegar treatment: Whether it is vinegar or apple cider vinegar, some people believe this treatment can strip stains from your teeth and work effectively as a whitening agent. However, applying an acidic substance to your teeth through rinsing or brushing can cause sensitivity and damage the enamel. It is best for this method to stay in grocery stores or in your food.
  • Charcoal: Toothpastes or powders made from this substance intend to attract food debris through the porous nature of charcoal’s carbon makeup. However, charcoal particles can get stuck in fillings or your gums, irritating them. It can also be quite abrasive, meaning that any form of teeth whitening comes with the risk of damaging your teeth.

Is It Safe to Whiten Teeth While Wearing Braces?

It mostly comes down to the advice given to you by your dental professional. This guide provides a succinct outline of options to peruse, but nothing is better than discussing your circumstances with your dentist. They are also capable of offering in-office treatments right then and there, and professional whitening will always be less risky than home whitening kits.

Options like whitening toothpaste or whitening strips are limited in their brightening effects, but are unlikely to cause any damage to your teeth. It should be kept in mind though they will provide an uneven treatment if you have traditional braces, leaving behind darker patches once removed.

Additionally, the strong bleaching agent in some whitening products risks gum irritation and tooth sensitivity. This sensitivity is exacerbated by the realignment of your teeth with braces, causing potential future complications and harming your tooth enamel.

It should be reiterated that the safest option to whiten teeth with braces is to maintain good oral hygiene, but the next best is to simply whiten after your braces have been removed.

Can You Get Professional In-Chair Whitening with Braces?

You can!

Dentists will apply a strong peroxide to your teeth, which oxidises a tooth’s enamel and whitens your teeth when a special ultraviolet light is applied.

Clear aligners and lingual braces can use this whitening treatment whilst fixing orthodontic issues, although traditional braces cannot use this in-office treatment until after their braces have been removed.

How Soon After Removing Braces Can I Whiten My Teeth?

Most dentists recommend waiting 4 weeks after removing your braces to try any whitening methods, even a professional whitening treatment. This is because your teeth take time to settle down in their new positions. Whitening your teeth any sooner will aggravate your gums and lead to complications and irritation.

How to Prevent Tooth Discoloration

The best way to prevent tooth discolouration whilst wearing braces is to practice excellent oral hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush twice daily, floss regularly, and use mouthwash
  • Avoid staining substances like coffee or cigarettes
  • Avoid high-sugar and acidic foods that will cause tooth decay
  • Book regular cleaning appointments with your dentist

Putney Dental Care’s Expert Teeth Whitening

Putney Dental Care offers expert teeth whitening services to ensure a significantly brighter smile. Performed with industry-approved advanced systems Pola Day and Pola Office, they ensure that no shortcuts or cheap in-office bleaching treatments will harm your teeth,

If you are in need of teeth whitening services, just contact Putney Dental Care at (02) 9808 2588 or here.

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