If you (or your tween or teen) has recently gotten braces, you may be wondering about how to keep the teeth white. While braces themselves do not stain teeth, the teeth are much more susceptible to staining, as proper oral hygiene becomes much more difficult. Fortunately, with a little bit of knowledge you can keep your or your child's teeth clean and sparkling white both during and after braces.
Just follow these five oral care tips while you have braces:
1. Take Advantage of Straws
Anytime you drink anything that is colored, try to use a straw. While it may not be ideal, the straw will help the colored beverages from touching your teeth, thus preventing stains. If you find that it is difficult to remember to use a straw, try using a water bottle that has a built-in straw for your juices, cold coffees, and sodas.
2. Ditch the Whitening Toothpaste
Whitening toothpaste may work to whiten the teeth, but people with braces shouldn't use it. The abrasive nature of the toothpaste will remove some of the enamel, which exposes the darker colored dentin. Plus, the whitening action will only work on the exposed parts of your teeth, so nothing under the braces will be whitened. Instead, opt for a standard fluoride toothpaste.
In addition, you shouldn't be using any whitening product. So stay away from whitening mouthwashes, toothpastes, and strips.
3. Change Bands Frequently
If you have ceramic braces, tell your orthodontist or dentist that you want the bands changed often. The small bands that surround the brackets may offer color, but if left for too long they can discolor your teeth. If you want to prevent this, have your bands changed each time you go in for a visit.
4. Opt for Iced Coffee and Tea
If you must have coffee and tea while you wear braces, opt for the iced versions. Hot beverages, especially colored ones, will stain the teeth more easily than cooler varieties. Hot drinks create very small fractures in the teeth, which makes it easier for the colored beverage to stain. If you do not like iced drinks, try to wait at least a few minutes for the drink to cool before drinking it.
5. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Finally, make sure you are practicing good oral hygiene. If you drink or eat something that might stain your teeth, brush immediately after. Apart from that, brush and floss at least twice daily; and of course, make sure you visit your dentist regularly.
If you are worried about tooth discoloration after braces, use these tips—and regular trips to dentist and orthodontist—to help keep your teeth sparkling white. And if you're helping prepare your child for braces, visit a site like http://www.childrensdent.com to learn more about proper oral hygiene in children. Encouraging consistent oral hygiene now will help children continue practicing it when they have braces.