There is a lot more to creating a gorgeous smile than just putting on braces or clear aligners. It takes effort on the patient’s part, as well. The patient must brush and floss daily to maintain great oral health throughout treatment. Otherwise, they can get a nasty surprise once the braces come off — white spots on their teeth. It’s called decalcification, and it’s caused by a lack of good oral hygiene, leading to bacteria removing nutrients from your enamel. The removal of these minerals leaves white blobs under or around braces brackets, which become glaringly obvious once the braces are removed.
Appel Orthodontics encourages our patients to keep up with their oral hygiene to prevent decalcification. We know it can be a bit more challenging with braces, which is why our team will teach patients the best way to brush and floss properly with braces. We want your treatment to be a success and your smile to be one you will show off proudly!
What Is Decalcification?
Healthy mouths depend on proper brushing and flossing. We’ve all been told what happens without proper brushing and flossing — gum disease, cavities, tooth loss. That’s still the case when you’re wearing braces, but there’s another thing that can happen — decalcification.
Your enamel is made up of various minerals. Bacteria and plaque can eat away at certain minerals, including calcium, in the enamel. As the minerals are removed, they leave behind white spots. Decalcification can happen around the edges of braces brackets when the teeth aren’t brushed properly and thoroughly because the plaque and bacteria can build up around the edges.
The spots may not be visible until your braces are removed, but there are other consequences you can see. You can still get gum disease and cavities, even with braces. If your cavities form under your braces, it means having the bracket or brackets removed, repairing the cavity, and putting the brackets back. It’s a timely, costly venture that can be avoided by brushing and flossing your teeth well.
Do Braces Scars Go Away?
What happens if you discover that you have decalcifications? How do you get rid of the white spots on teeth? Will they go away with brushing? Unfortunately, the white spots cannot be cleaned off, because they’re actually weak spots in the enamel where the white dentin underneath is showing through. That means there are weak spots in the enamel, which is a sign of early tooth decay.
Enamel can’t be regrown — once it’s gone, it’s gone. That means the white spots won’t go away on their own or even with proper brushing. You’ll need help from a dentist or orthodontist to repair the damage.
Here are some of the ways your dentist or orthodontist can get rid of decalcification on enamel, or at least reduce the look of decalcification on teeth.
- Tooth whitening – If the spots are small or not as noticeable, it’s possible to lessen the look of them by whitening the rest of the teeth. However, this can be difficult to do, as the weakened spots can make the tooth more sensitive.
- Fluoride treatments – A fluoride coating can act like enamel and fill in the thin spots, returning them to the original thickness. This should help fade the white spots, but it may not eliminate them completely.
- Calcium phosphate treatments – This treatment is similar to a fluoride treatment in that it coats the tooth and fills in the thin spots, fading the white spots.
- Microabrasion – If the white spots are widespread, your dentist may buff the enamel down so it’s a more even tone, then seal it with a mineral treatment.
- Veneers – If the damage is severe, your dentist may recommend veneers, which are thin shells of resin or porcelain that are placed over the front of the tooth. Veneers can last several years but will need to be replaced eventually, which makes it more costly than other solutions.
How to Prevent Decalcification
The easiest way to prevent decalcification on teeth is to brush and floss your teeth with braces thoroughly and regularly. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. It’s preferred that you brush after every meal. You also need to floss at least once daily before you brush, so you can remove any particles left on your teeth or around your braces from the flossing. Use a floss threader to get in and around your teeth. It also helps to rinse with fluoride mouthwash, which will help strengthen your enamel.
Appel Orthodontics can help patients in the Philadelphia, PA, area who may be struggling to brush and floss properly. When you visit us, just ask our staff to show you some of the best techniques to getting your teeth clean with braces. We’re happy to help!