Do Braces Cause White Spots on Teeth? [Epic Checklist]
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Braces with orthodontic treatment can be a huge confidence booster as well as an aid to maintaining optimal oral health. As an investment in your long-term health and well being or the same for your child or teen, it is a worthy use of time and funds.
However, there are some factors which can influence both how successful treatment outcomes may be and how healthy teeth and gums are following orthodontic treatment. One fairly common issue that orthodontists see is the presence of white spots on the teeth when braces come off.
In this article, you will learn
- What causes this,
- How to prevent it from happening
- What treatments are available to address it.
Do Braces Cause White Spots on the Teeth?
Not all patients are good candidates for systems such as Invisalign. This treatment corrects teeth using a series of non-invasive aligners instead of traditional semi-permanent hardware. Your orthodontist may recommend that you opt for the latter. It is because this is the best approach to correct any misalignment in your teeth and jaw in the fastest and most lasting way.
However, maintaining optimal oral health can be a bit more challenging with traditional metal or ceramic hardware. Whether placed behind the teeth (sub-lingual) or on the front of the teeth. One such issue is the buildup of plaque deposits underneath and around the brackets.
Deposits can show up as white or chalky colored spots around or beneath the brackets. These deposits are the result of insufficient attention to oral hygiene while undergoing orthodontic treatment. When plaque isn’t sufficiently cleaned away on a daily basis, it starts to cause what is called demineralization of the tooth enamel.
Over time, this demineralization leads to tooth decay. So here, the white or chalky-appearing spots (technically called WSL, or white spot lesions) are just the first step on the road to a cavity.
How to Avoid White Spot Lesions
As you might imagine, avoiding the formation of WSL requires very careful attention to daily oral hygiene, including regular flossing, brushing, and cleanings. But the patient’s diet can also influence how likely white spots are to appear on the teeth following orthodontic care.
Certain drinks and foods are known triggers for the development of the white spot lesions because of what is in them. Here are some common foods and drinks that, when consumed on a frequent or daily basis, can lead to WSL over time:
- Sugary sodas or sports drinks: These drinks contain not only a high refined sugar content but also phosphoric acid, which can quickly begin to erode the enamel protection each tooth relies on.
- Diet drinks. Diet drinks, while they don’t have refined sugar, do still contain high amounts of phosphoric acid.
- High sugar snacks. Not only can gummy, chewy or very hard sugary snacks wreak havoc on orthodontic hardware, but they can leave behind sugar and phosphoric acid residue that turns into white spots.
Here, switching from sodas and energy drinks to drinking plenty of clean, pure water and cutting back on sugary snacks can really help avoid the appearance of white lesions on the teeth. As well, flossing and brushing more frequently are great aids.
Keeping Teeth Clean During Treatment
There is no doubt it is tougher to keep teeth and gums clean and healthy during orthodontic treatment than it is after the hardware comes off. The treatment hardware, rubber bands, spacers, headgear, et al, makes it more challenging to see hidden areas where food and phosphoric acid can pile up. As well, it can sometimes feel like navigating an obstacle course to get floss in where it needs to go around archwires, brackets and rubber bands!
But there is additional help that can make it much easier to maintain good oral hygiene during treatment. Special types of floss are designed to easily thread through small openings. Water flossers can shoot water into very difficult-to-reach areas to wash away hidden food and plaque. Also, special toothbrushes have bristles that make it easier to reach tooth surfaces. Your orthodontist can help ensure you have all of the right supplies to maintain the cleanest, healthiest teeth.
How to Treat White Spots
If you do see what appear to be white spots on your teeth during or after orthodontic care, be sure to mention it to your provider immediately. The earlier treatment is applied, the better the results are likely to be. WSL are more common than you might think, and can sometimes be difficult to avoid in very hard-to-reach areas.
Treating the white spots may or may not be required depending on what stage they are in. In the very early stages, the simple removal of the obstructive hardware along with a thorough professional cleaning and ongoing excellent daily oral hygiene can sometimes be enough to minimize any risk of the white spots worsening.
For more advanced spots or spots that are visually bothersome, there are other treatments. Such as resins and laser therapy, that can intervene to protect your teeth from any risk of decay and also improve their appearance. Your orthodontist can work with you to decide on the best course of treatment to protect the integrity of your teeth. They can also provide you with the brightest, whitest and most attractive smile.
Contact Nease & Higginbotham Orthodontics Today
Drs. Nease and Higginbotham share more than six decades of orthodontic expertise between them. Since the practice began in 1974, more than 15,000 patients have received orthodontic treatment, resulting in whiter, straighter, healthier smiles.
The team specializes in offering patients the most advanced and effective orthodontic methods. Including Invisalign, the Damon system, traditional and Inspire braces for kids. Plus the latest surgical techniques to correct bite and jaw misalignment. The practice treats patients of all ages and often welcomes whole families!
Contact Nease & Higginbotham Orthodontics by phone at (864) 579-7700 or online to schedule your consultation at one of three convenient locations.
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Nease and Higginbotham Orthodontics
424 Hyatt Street – Suite E
Phone: (864) 579-7700
Do Braces Cause White Spots on Teeth?
Dr Nease graduated as Valedictorian from Cocke County (TN) High School in 1988 and graduated from the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!) in 1992. He then attended the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in Memphis, TN, where he earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree as Valedictorian of his graduating class in 1996. He remained at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry for his orthodontic training, and received his Master of Dental Science (MDS) degree in June of 1999. He immediately joined the practice of Dr. Phil Higginbotham in Spartanburg, beginning a wonderful professional relationship and friendship that endures today.