Perhaps the better question would be: Should you whiten your teeth while wearing braces? Using whitening strips, trays, or brush-on gels might seem like a quick fix for teeth that start to look dull and yellowish after several months in braces. This can actually do more harm than good because:
- Teeth whitening agents will not penetrate the tooth enamel under bonded brackets. While your teeth will look nice while the braces are on, your teeth will look uneven and mottled after the braces have been removed.
- If you opted for cosmetic braces with ceramic brackets, you should definitely stay away from teeth whitening treatments. Many whitening products, especially abrasive toothpastes, can scratch the ceramic, leaving it more susceptible to stains.
What If You Wear Invisalign?
Invisalign is the exception to the no-whitening-in-braces rule. Most orthodontists caution against putting whitening gel in Invisalign trays during the vast majority your Invisalign treatment plan. Since you have to wear Invisalign trays 24/7, your teeth would remain in contact with the whitening gel far longer than necessary. This can result in tooth sensitivity and a higher vulnerability to staining. However, most orthodontists recommend that their patients use gel for the last 1-2 weeks of treatment. In addition, since you can take Invisalign out to brush your teeth, you can always opt to use ADA-approved toothpaste with added whitening ingredients during treatment.
Tips for Brighter Teeth During Orthodontic Therapy
Feeling confident about your smile while you’re wearing braces is all about taking the long view: the minor inconvenience today will pay off for the rest of your life (as long as you wear your retainer!). Of course, taking steps to minimize staining can’t hurt:
- Plaque likes to build up around brackets, whether they’re made of metal or ceramic. Use ortho floss or interdental brushes to clean between the teeth and around your brackets.
- Brush carefully after meals and snacks. No excuses!
- Minimize contact between your teeth and foods or drinks that are darkly colored. If you just can’t give up your morning cup of coffee or blueberries in your yogurt, rinse immediately after eating and drinking and brush as soon as possible.
About Dr. Cabal
Dr. Ciro Cabal is a dedicated family orthodontist whose lifelong passion for providing exceptional dental care continues to this day as he serves patients of all ages from Ft. Worth, Azle, Saginaw, Springtown, Weatherford, Haslet, and the surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment to discuss clear braces or ceramic bracket braces at our Ft. Worth orthodontist’s office, call Lake Country Orthodontics today at (817) 236-7846.