Getting an orthodontic treatment like braces means that you are making a commitment to your oral health. And that you are soon going to have a new smile with a row of beautifully straight teeth! Even if the process is daunting, the end result is going to be exciting!
Some of our patients ask us if it’s ok that they whiten their teeth while they have their braces on. Their thinking is that they want their teeth to be in the best, brightest condition when the day finally arrives and their braces are removed.
Today, we’re going to answer the question: Can you whiten your teeth with braces on?
The short answer is no. Well, that’s not true. You can whiten your teeth with braces on, but you probably (most definitely) should not.
Braces are made up of metal or porcelain brackets which are semi-permanently affixed to the surface of your teeth and connected to each other with a wire. If you attempt to whiten your teeth with an at home whitening kit, the gel will only be able to reach the surface area not covered by the brackets. The whitening paste will whiten what it can but when the braces are removed, you are going to be left with stained rectangles on the front of each tooth. It’s not a good look. And the only way to fix it will be to whiten your teeth again.
Another reason to wait for whitening is that the process can create temporary sensitivity in the teeth. Braces can also cause teeth to be extra sensitive when the appliance gets “tightened” and the teeth begin moving around the mouth. When these two things are combined, it can create the conditions for a very painful experience.
The best thing to do while you have braces is keep up with your oral health. That means brushing and flossing after meals and before bed, and taking the extra time needed to do an effective job. You are going to need to gently brush along the gum line, and use a special tool to get under the wire and around the brackets.
It’s also a good idea to avoid food that can stain or damage the teeth, like coffee, tea, wine and sugary drinks and candy. This way, the part of the tooth showing won’t be stained while the area under the brackets remains whiter.
Waiting until your braces are off to have your teeth whitened is the best way forward. In fact, it is actually a great way to finish off the process of reinventing your smile and achieving oral health. You are going to want to show of your perfectly straight teeth, so getting them whitened after is a great idea.
Getting braces is definitely a big commitment, and while some people want the orthodontic treatment to correct crooked teeth, braces are actually there to help people achieve optimal oral health. Straight teeth are easier to clean, to prevent decay, and to make sure teeth don’t wear down unevenly. If you have questions about whether braces are right for you — give us a call!
Dr. Lesley Williams is a Certified Specialist in Orthodontics. She grew up in Victoria, BC with her parents and two sisters.
After being awarded her Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) degree in 1989, Dr. Williams then spent six years as a dentist in general practice before deciding that she wanted to further her education by undertaking three extra years of highly specialized training in orthodontics. With her Masters in Science (Orthodontics) degree under her belt, she went on to sit the Orthodontic Specialty Fellowship exams through the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. To date, her status as an active leader in the orthodontic profession means that she holds the following qualifications and positions:
- Certified Specialist in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
- Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada
- Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics
- Examiner for the Royal College of Dentists of Canada and the American Board of Orthodontics.
- Former president of the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists (representing 2900 orthodontists from the 4 western Canadian provinces and 8 western American states).
- Active member of the Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists.