Whitening Your Teeth After Braces Treatment

Achieving the perfect smile doesn’t always come easy. There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into completing orthodontic treatment! It can be disappointing if your teeth are straighter but not as white as you would like. You may even be dealing with some discoloration once your braces come off. 

If you’re looking to brighten up your brand new smile, you may not be sure where to start. We can help! Here at Andrew Pedersen Orthodontics, we often hear from patients who are hoping to amp up the wattage on their smile once they’ve wrapped up their treatment. If this sounds like you, keep reading below to learn how you can accomplish that! 

Brightening your smile after braces

There are a couple of reasons for patients to inquire about teeth whitening in our York office. Some are simply looking to achieve the most attractive smile possible—whitening your teeth after having your braces removed can feel like icing on the cake! Other patients may have noticed some discoloration of their teeth during or after the orthodontic process. Contrary to popular opinion, braces won’t cause your teeth to become stained. So what’s the culprit here? 

When you wear braces, it can be difficult to remove plaque from around the brackets and wire. They create lots of little nooks and crannies that can attract food debris and bacteria. If these aren’t brushed or rinsed away, plaque can form and build up in those areas. If this plaque is allowed to sit on a tooth for too long, it will begin stripping away the tooth enamel. It can also lead to discoloration or staining. If this occurs, you may find that when your braces are removed, there are darker areas where the brackets were placed with white surrounding them. 

Whatever your reason for wanting a brighter smile once your braces are off, there are multiple teeth whitening options! While at-home products are convenient, you’re likely to see the best results with professional procedures. These treatments use more powerful products and can produce the desired effect in less time. They also protect your entire mouth, including the tooth enamel, while some over-the-counter products contain abrasive chemicals that may cause irritation. 

Whitening toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste will usually be the least expensive option for brightening up your smile. These items are also very easy to access since you can find them in almost any store! While regular toothpaste is designed to help remove some staining, its main focus is cleaning your teeth to help you maintain your oral health. Whitening toothpaste takes this a step further by adding mild abrasives like silica that can scrub the surface of the teeth and eliminate deeper stains.

It’s important to be patient with whitening toothpaste. It can take several weeks of regular use to see results and it won’t change the actual color of your teeth. Removing any obvious staining will still make them appear lighter, however! Remember that any results you achieve can be undone if you have habits that contribute to staining, like smoking or drinking a lot of coffee or soda.  The same is true if you stop using the toothpaste, too. 

To be sure you’re getting the safest and most effective product, always look for a whitening toothpaste that has a seal of approval from the American Dental Association.

Whitening strips

Whitening strip kits generally come with a set of strips for your upper teeth and another set for the lower teeth. The flexible strips are made of plastic polyethylene and have a thin film of hydrogen peroxide on one side. You place them gel-side down on the teeth for half an hour at a time, usually twice a day. The length of time required to see results will vary based on the efficiency of your product. Whitening strips are popular, but it’s important to note that they can only whiten your front teeth. Professional whitening can whiten all your teeth.

Tray bleaching

Some teeth whitening trays are available over-the-counter, but professional products tend to produce much better results. Our office is proud to offer patients professional whitening trays at an affordable price! After making a custom mold of your mouth, we’ll create a tray that’s designed to perfectly fit over your teeth. This process can take a few hours to a few days to complete.

The whitening gel we use with these trays is only available through dental or orthodontic practices. Once you’ve received your tray, you’ll put the whitening gel in your customized tray and fit it over your teeth. With this treatment, you may notice some brightening in as little as 3-5 days! Most at-home professional tray whitening will take anywhere from ten days to two weeks to yield the best results.

Whitening Your Teeth After Braces Treatment

Teeth whitening 101

Now that you know what options are available to you, let’s dig a little deeper into how teeth become discolored in the first place, which helps explain how teeth whitening can correct this issue. There are two types of tooth discoloration: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are on the surface of your teeth and usually caused by food, drinks, or other substances. This includes coffee, tea, and nicotine. Quite a bit of extrinsic staining can be removed by brushing daily with a whitening toothpaste.

Intrinsic stains go deeper, existing beneath the enamel. They can be the result of extended exposure to a variety of substances. Whatever the underlying cause, they’re harder to remove than extrinsic stains. Fortunately, teeth whitening agents contain active oxidizing agents, like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, that react with the “inside” of the teeth. They mix with the stains there and break them apart, giving teeth a noticeably whiter appearance!

Some whitening treatments may cause your teeth to be sensitive, although this is usually temporary and will go away on its own. If you’re already prone to sensitive teeth, you can try using desensitizing toothpaste for at least a full month before attempting any whitening products. You should also let us know before your teeth whitening appointment so our doctors can change the protocol or frequency of application if necessary.

It’s important to have realistic expectations about what teeth whitening treatments can and can’t accomplish. They can’t change the color of your fillings, veneers, or crowns. These treatments won’t be able to change the actual color of your teeth, either. Most people can achieve fantastic results, however, especially with professional teeth whitening!

Take your new smile to the next level with Andrew Pedersen Orthodontics

Once you’ve had your braces removed, we recommend scheduling a professional cleaning with your dentist before beginning any whitening treatments. This will ensure any extrinsic stains, plaque, and tartar are removed prior to applying the whitening agents. If you’ve recently completed braces treatment and want to upgrade to a whiter smile, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation in our York office!