Having braces is a commitment that can last for months, even years, so you do your best to keep your mind focused on the long-term benefits of having great, straight teeth and a beautiful smile. Sometimes braces can get tricky: food gets stuck, wires get uncomfortable, and you may sometimes deal with soreness. However, one of the most dreaded issues people with braces may face is stubborn yellow or brown staining around the brackets. Of course, with braces, whitening your teeth isn’t exactly a viable option, so what can you do to get rid of these pesky stains? There are several methods you can try to lessen or remove these stains until the fateful day your braces are removed.
This option seems quite simple, right? Stay away from drinks like coffee, red wine, colored fruit drinks and other things that can heavily stain teeth. The rubber bands and glue used to keep brackets intact and wires in place can be quite porous, causing them to soak up dark and high pigment colors in food and drink. This sounds much simpler than it is, though; some of us simply can’t forego our routine cup of coffee in the morning or glass of wine or grape juice with a meal. The best way to keep stains at bay when you do drink or eat things that may stain is to swish with a glass of water and brush teeth about an hour after your drink or meal.
Use an Oral Irrigator
Brushing after a meal or drink that may stain is helpful, but using an electronic WaterPik is an even better option! These nifty machines help cleanse out anything that may be stuck in your braces or between teeth, even reaching areas that toothbrushes may not be able to clear. There are many different brands you can check out, and prices vary from the $20 to $50 range. It’s a smart investment not only while you’re wearing braces but also after you get them taken off. Oral irrigators have been shown to help reduce plaque between teeth, especially when coupled with flossing.
Try a Toothbrush made for Braces
Picking the best toothbrush for your oral care needs is essential, especially if you wear braces. Look for models that are designed to help dislodge food particles, typically with a V-shaped bristle formation and smaller head, making it easier to clean hard-to-reach spots. Make sure the bristles aren’t too hard to prevent any irritation, especially if you wear rubber bands or an expander. Ask your dentist or orthodontist to recommend some toothbrushes they have experience with if you would like some professional guidance.
Flossing with braces can be a pain, but taking a couple of minutes out of your morning or nightly routine to do it can really make a difference. The more particles and bacteria build up that you harbor between teeth while wearing braces, the worse your stains will be. When choosing which type of floss to use, aim for “Superfloss.” It’s made up of three different kinds of threads: springy, stiffened, and regular. This combination makes floss durable for dealing with metal braces but also soft enough to not cause any gum or tissue damage.
If you’ve been looking for a reason to quit smoking, having braces is a great one. Obviously, smoking is terrible for your health, but it can cause major stains on your teeth as well. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes are particularly aggressive ingredients that can turn your pearly whites to a yellowish-brown. This applies to chewing tobacco too! Now that you’re putting all of this time and money into fixing your teeth with braces, use it as an opportunity to quit smoking and better your overall quality of life.
Some people need to wear braces more than once in their lifetime. If you had braces long ago and don’t want metal in your mouth, or the subsequent staining that may occur, see if you are a candidate for nontraditional braces. These custom-made plastic retainers work just like braces, but are removable for eating and brushing, making it much easier to avoid stains. You can even receive whitening treatments while you are doing Invisalign if you so choose. Invisalign is great for first-timers, too! This option is popular with adults who don’t want to take time out for traditional braces. Schedule a consultation to see if Invisalign is an option for you as it’s not always the best fit for specialized orthodontic issues.
Choose Metal over Clear Brackets
Many people decide they want “clear braces” in attempts to make them less noticeable, but sometimes this option can backfire. With clear brackets, staining can often become even more obvious. The brackets aren’t always easy to keep clear, and turn yellow as a result; sometimes making your teeth look more yellow than they are naturally. Metal braces may seem old-fashioned and not the most aesthetically pleasing, but you may want to reconsider using metal brackets if you are a heavy coffee drinker or smoker due to staining and yellowing.
Whitening Treatments after Removing Braces
When the long-awaited day comes for your braces to be removed, speak to your dentist about doing a whitening procedure to remove any residual stains that may be present. Some dentists use a procedure called “scaling,” which can make a huge difference. There are other options that include ZOOM whitening or custom made trays, as well. Speak to your dentist to choose the best whitening option for you upon removing your braces so you can bring your smile to its fullest potential.
Having braces doesn’t have to be a drag. If you are worried about staining your teeth while wearing braces, keep these simple precautions in mind. Once your braces are removed, revealing your beautiful new smile, you will be glad you did!