Do braces cause white spots on teeth? Calgary Orthodontist – Dr. Cory Liss – sheds some light on what causes them, what to do to prevent them, and how to treat them. There’s no denying the disappointment for patient and orthodontist when braces are removed and chalky white spots are revealed on tooth surfaces – the big unveiling of a beautiful healthy smile is marred by outlines of orthodontic brackets.
White spots on teeth are areas of de-calcification that occurs as a result of unremoved plaque creating acids that erode minerals in tooth enamel – causing a difference in tooth color. It’s not just orthodontic patients who suffer from white spots – but the occurrence rate is higher in patients wearing orthodontic brackets due to plaque not being effectively removed from tooth surfaces, especially around brackets.
Our previous blogs have touched on the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment – that consists of keeping scheduled cleaning appointments with your general dentist and keeping up with daily brushing and flossing at home. Did you know that plaque can contain as many as 500 million bacteria per milligram and up to 80 different species – if that doesn’t make you run for your toothbrush! The thin, sticky buildup of plaque loves to hang-out around orthodontic brackets, in between teeth and on or under the gum line. When left to build-up, plaque creates that fuzzy feeling on teeth and the sugar and starch bugs living in the plaque (bacteria) release acid when they interact with food remnants – the acid weakens tooth enamel which over time results in dental decay, gum inflammation, and permanent stains on teeth (white spots).
Skipping brushing and flossing your teeth after a meal or before bedtime might not seem like a big deal at the time – but the reality is that repeated neglect of your teeth will result in some form of damage; either bad breath, bleeding gums, tooth decay – and of course markings on teeth. Taking just three minutes to brush and floss is all it takes to keep your braces clean and your teeth and gums healthy.
Can white spots be treated? For the first six month after bracket removal it’s best to just let your teeth adjust to being exposed to saliva. Some white spots will fade out gradually and require no treatment – for more obvious mottling re-mineralization pastes can be applied after the six month period – and in some cases teeth whitening has been shown to even out tooth color. The biggest thing to focus on is prevention – that means diligent teeth cleaning to make sure plaque is being removed daily.