If you’re in the process of straightening your teeth, it’s only natural you want your smile to look its absolute best. So, you might be wondering how to whiten your teeth with braces. But, before you purchase a whitening kit or special toothpaste, read on to learn more about whether or not you can whiten your teeth with your hardware in place.
Can You Get Your Teeth Whitened With Braces?
If you’ve looked into how to whiten your teeth with braces, you’ve probably noticed a lot of conflicting information. Some sources say, sure, bring on the whitening treatments, while others say to avoid it.
Technically, you can whiten your teeth with braces, but you probably shouldn’t. Here’s why:
- Over-the-counter teeth whitening products have varying levels of effectiveness. Often, they only remove mild surface stains and won’t penetrate beneath your brackets. When this happens, only the visible portions of your teeth will be whitened, while the parts that are covered by your braces won’t, leaving you with a two-toned smile. Though professional, in-office teeth whitening treatment uses a stronger solution than over-the-counter whiteners, it can still fail to create even results with brackets in the way.
- Teeth whitening can cause sensitivity. When you get your braces put on and, sometimes after adjustments, your teeth will be sensitive, and whitening may make it worse.
- It’s never advisable to whiten your teeth if plaque isn’t controlled and you have any active decay. With braces on, there are more places for plaque to hide, and when you don’t eliminate all of the plaque with thorough brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar, which can’t be removed at home.
The plaque and tatar can weaken the enamel potentially causing delcalficiation, or white spots, and eventually cavities. Whitening would be uncomfortable. The tartar also creates an additional barrier between the whitening solution and your enamel. This could leave you with darker spots and even more uneven results.
Can You Whiten Your Teeth With Invisalign?
The benefit of Invisalign vs. braces is that the Invisalign aligners are removable. This means you’re able to more easily remove plaque, and you won’t have to worry about hardware getting in the way of your whitening toothpaste or whitening strips like you would with braces.
However, the majority of patients require Invisalign attachments. These tooth-colored buttons are bonded to the teeth and give your aligners something to push off of to achieve more complex tooth movements. Invisalign attachments will interfere with over-the-counter teeth whitening like brackets do. And, they too give plaque more areas to accumulate.
If you don’t have attachments and your teeth aren’t overly sensitive when putting in new aligners, you can whiten your teeth with Invisalign. If you do have attachments or you experience sensitivity, it’s best to wait until you finish treatment.
How to Get White Teeth With Braces
When it comes to how to whiten teeth with braces, just because it’s recommended you avoid whitening treatments, doesn’t mean you can’t keep your teeth looking bright. There are a number of things you can do to keep stains and decalcification away and make your teeth look whiter:
- Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed. Removing plaque and food debris will make teeth look whiter and help prevent stains. A fluoride toothpaste will remineralize teeth, which can be helpful for stopping decalcification, or white spots on the teeth, from forming.
- Floss with braces at least once daily. Using a floss threader or special braces floss will make the job a whole lot easier and more effective. Make sure to floss all the way up the tooth and under the gumline to banish plaque between the teeth and around the gums.
- Use an interproximal brush, also called an interdental brush or proxy brush, to carefully clean around your brackets or Invisalign attachments. These tiny brushes can reach the tight spaces your toothbrush can’t to get rid of even more plaque and make your smile brighter.
- Use a fluoride mouthwash to rinse away any lingering plaque and debris. It will also add an extra layer of protection against decalcification and decay.
- Avoid brushing your teeth right after eating or drinking anything acidic like citrus fruit, coffee, or orange juice. Acidic foods weaken the enamel and brushing while the enamel is in its weakened state can cause damage. When you do it frequently, it exposes the underlying dentin, making teeth look yellow and causing sensitivity. Instead, after a meal or acidic beverage, wait 30 minutes to an hour before brushing, which will allow your oral pH to return to normal.
- Patients sometimes ask if they can use a waterpik for braces. The answer is, yes! A waterpik, or water flosser, is excellent for getting teeth extra clean and dislodging stuck food. While it doesn’t replace regular flossing and you’ll still have to floss, this additional step is well worth it and will help you keep your teeth white with braces.
- Enjoy beverages and foods that stain teeth in moderation. Things like coffee, red wine, and tomato sauce are notorious for causing tooth discoloration. If you do have them occasionally, rinse your mouth out really well with water after you indulge.
- Speaking of rinsing your mouth out with water, rinse after drinking beverages, aside from plain water, and after eating if you forget your toothbrush. Eliminating any beverage residue and food will also help your teeth stay white during your braces or Invisalign treatment.
- Visit your general dentist at least once every six months for a professional cleaning and exam. During a cleaning, the hygienist uses special tools to remove hardened plaque and they can get rid of surface stains around your braces or Invisalign attachments.
The Bottom Line
To get the best results and prevent sensitivity, hold off on whitening treatments and products until your braces or Invisalign attachments come off. Make oral hygiene a top priority to keep your teeth bright during treatment. Treating yourself to at-home or professional teeth whitening after braces or Invisalign is a great way to celebrate your new smile.
Schedule a Complimentary Consultation With a Brooklyn Orthodontist
Now that you know the ins and outs of teeth whitening with braces and Invisalign attachments, are you ready to get started on your smile journey? Schedule a complimentary consultation at Fresh Orthodontics in Brooklyn today to learn more about your options for getting a smile you love.