Keeping Your White Teeth During Braces
If you’re preparing for orthodontic treatment with Invisalign or braces, you may wonder if braces or Invisalign will lead to staining or yellowing of your teeth. The answer is no, providing you follow best practices for excellent oral hygiene. Read on to learn more about keeping your teeth white while wearing braces or Invisalign.
Three Steps to Keeping Teeth White While Wearing Braces
Irrespective of the orthodontic treatment you select to improve the look and function of your teeth, mouth, and jaw, keeping your teeth white will require three primary steps.
Brush Your Teeth at Least Two Times a Day
Dentists and the American Dental Association agree that to maintain healthy teeth, you should brush for a full two minutes twice a day. However, when you’re wearing braces or Invisalign, it can help to increase the frequency of your brushing.
If you brush your teeth when you wake up and before bed, consider brushing your teeth after each meal instead. The food debris left on the teeth after meals mix with saliva, which promotes bacteria growth that can lead to staining. So, during the months you’re undergoing orthodontic care, increase your brushing frequency to keep your teeth white.
If you choose Invisalign to correct your smile, be sure you’re brushing your alignment trays every time you brush your teeth. Rinse your trays regularly throughout the day to help prevent staining.
Flossing is vital to removing small food particles that can stain teeth and lead to decay. If you’re wearing traditional bracket and wire braces, a water flosser (Water Pik) can make flossing easier. You can also use tools such as a floss threader to ensure you clean thoroughly between all of your teeth. You should floss your teeth every day.
Regular Dental Appointments
Be sure you keep regular dental exams and cleaning appointments while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Professional cleanings remove the plaque that builds up between teeth and along the gumline despite regular brushing and flossing.
In addition to brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist regularly during your orthodontic treatment, the following steps will help prevent staining while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
- Limit stain-causing foods (coffee, tea, wine, soda, dark sauces, dark berries, dark juices)
- No smoking, chewing, or vaping- all three unhealthy habits can stain your teeth
- Straws can help prevent discoloration from beverages such as coffee that stain the teeth
Should I Whiten My Teeth While Wearing Braces or After Completing Orthodontic Treatment?
You should not whiten your teeth while you have bracket and wire braces on your teeth. Wait until you complete your treatment, and then use a professional teeth whitening kit available from your dentist or orthodontist. If you try to whiten your teeth while wearing braces, you may wind up with discolored spots where the brackets were bonded to the teeth.
You may whiten your teeth during Invisalign treatment. You can use your trays with a professional whitening gel, use an over-the-counter whitening toothpaste or the occasional whitening strips. For the best results though, you’ll want a professional-grade teeth whitening kit, available from your dentist or orthodontist.
Schedule a No-Obligation Orthodontic Consultation in Las Cruces
If you’re interested in learning more about aligning your teeth and improving your smile, request an appointment at Legacy Smiles Orthodontic Specialists today. You may also call 575-522-1500. Our friendly front desk staff will help you schedule a convenient appointment.
How Long Should You Wear Your Retainer?
Once you’ve completed orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign, your orthodontist will fit you for a retainer. Initially, you are likely to be advised to wear your retainer most of the time. As time passes, your orthodontist may notify you that you only need to wear it while you sleep. For the best result, most patients should plan to wear their retainer at least a few nights a week, indefinitely. Because there is no one-size-fits-all orthodontic treatment plan, it is best to follow your orthodontist’s recommendations for how long and how frequently you should wear your retainer.
What Purpose Does a Retainer Serve?
Retainers are custom-made orthodontic devices that are either removable or fixed. Fixed retainers are bonded to the backsides of the teeth, so they are invisible. Removable retainers may be made of clear plastic or may be made of plastic or acrylic with a wire attached. As you may surmise, the job of a retainer is to retain the teeth in their newly aligned position.
Specifically, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, retainers serve two primary functions:
- Allow the jaw bone to rebuild after the teeth have been repositioned
- Maintain the new position of the teeth
Retainers may also help complete your orthodontic treatment. If small gaps between teeth remain after completing treatment with braces, a retainer can be fitted to make the final adjustments.
Unique Benefits of Retainers
Retainers, when worn as prescribed by your orthodontist can have surprising benefits including:
- Promoting Better Oral Health
Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean. When teeth are no longer overlapping or crowded, it is easier to brush and floss thoroughly. This helps prevent food debris from becoming stuck and promoting bacterial growth (plaque).
- Preventing Grinding and Clenching
Although removable plastic retainers are not designed to prevent teeth grinding (bruxism) or clenching, they may help reduce damage to the teeth from intense grinding or clenching.
- May Improve Breathing
You may not realize it but misaligned teeth can cause breathing problems such as snoring. Some patients may find that wearing their retainer reduces snoring.
- Can Prevent Tongue Thrusting
Patients who habitually push the tongue against the teeth when swallowing may find that wearing a retainer helps to break this habit which can put excessive pressure on the teeth, causing skeletal problems.
What Happens if You Don’t Wear Your Retainer?
Failing to wear your retainer as prescribed can cause relapse, which is the shifting of teeth back into their former positions. After completing your orthodontic treatment, the last thing you want is for your teeth or bite to become misaligned again.
If you continually skip wearing your retainer, eventually your retainer will no longer fit. To correct the problem with your alignment, you may need to repeat orthodontic treatment.
Book an Appointment for Orthodontic Treatment in Las Cruces
As a top-rated Las Cruces orthodontic practice, Legacy Smiles provides complete orthodontic care for kids, teens, and adults. To book a consultation, call 575-522-1500. If you prefer, you may also send us a message and our friendly team will contact you to book your appointment.
Are Rubber Bands for Braces Necessary?
Not all adolescents and adults undergoing orthodontic treatment need to use rubber bands with their braces. Rubber bands are only used to correct specific alignment and bite issues. Your orthodontist will inform you if elastics are needed to correct your alignment or bite issues. Read on for what to know about the role rubber bands play in orthodontic treatment.
What Role Do Rubber Bands Play in Orthodontic Treatment?
Rubber bands (also referred to as elastics) are used to exert extra force. This may be necessary to correct bite problems (malocclusions) such as:
- Class II malocclusion (upper jaw too far forward or lower jaw too far back)
- Class III malocclusion (lower jaw too far forward or upper jaw too far back creating an “underbite”)
- Open bite (top and bottom teeth don’t meet when the mouth is closed)
- Crossbite (teeth do not come together correctly, often because bottom teeth are inside top teeth)
Rubber bands in orthodontic treatment are used in a variety of ways, including:
- From top teeth to molars of the lower jaw to correct a class II malocclusion
- From lower teeth to molars of the upper jaw to correct a class III malocclusion
- From upper teeth to teeth below them to correct an open bite
- Elastics may cross in front of the teeth to align the center of the top and lower arch (known as midline elastics)
Rubber bands may also be used to correct gapped teeth when placed horizontally across the teeth linking brackets.
How Long Will I Need to Wear Rubber Bands?
All orthodontic treatments are custom-designed, so the duration you’ll need to wear elastics will depend upon the current position of your jaw and the alignment of your teeth. It’s common for patients to require elastics for at least six months. However, in some cases, you may only be required to wear the elastics at night while you sleep. Your orthodontist will explain precisely when you need to wear the elastics and will be able to estimate the length of time you’ll need to wear them as your teeth and jaw come into alignment.
What Happens if I Don’t Wear My Rubber Bands With My Braces?
There will be no fooling your orthodontist. They will know if you don’t wear your rubber bands as instructed. This is because the teeth will not move the way they need to without the rubber bands. Also, you can’t reduce how often you wear the elastics without preventing necessary movement. If your orthodontist instructs you to wear rubber bands daily, you can’t wear them twice a week and expect the same results. Not wearing your rubber bands as instructed will only prolong your orthodontic treatment.
Get Started with Orthodontic Treatment in Las Cruces Today
At Legacy Smiles in Las Cruces, Dr. Coombs knows that patients are often excited to complete orthodontic treatment as soon as possible. He is committed to helping you enjoy your newly aligned teeth and jaw as quickly and safely as possible. Following all instructions, including wearing rubber bands as instructed, will ensure that your orthodontic treatment is successful and swift. To get started with orthodontic treatment in Las Cruces, call 575-522-1500.
Keeping Teeth Straight After Adult Braces
Adults who opt to correct problems with their bite (malocclusion) or misaligned teeth with orthodontic treatment must wear their retainer as instructed to keep their teeth straight. Fortunately, adults who follow the advice of their orthodontist will have excellent retention results lasting a lifetime. Here’s what to know about keeping your smile straight after braces, or Invisalign.
Retaining Your New Smile
Once you’ve completed your treatment with braces or Invisalign, you’ll need to wear a retainer. There are several types of retainers:
A Hawley retainer may be the first image that pops into your mind when you think of a retainer. Made of acrylic or hard plastic, with a metal wire attached, Hawley retainers are custom-made specifically for your mouth. The wire will fit over your front teeth and the hard acrylic or plastic will fit snugly on the roof of your mouth, or behind your bottom teeth. Hawley retainers are removable, and should always be taken out when you eat.
A permanent or fixed retainer is bonded to the backside of your teeth, making them invisible to others. Typically made of stainless steel, these retainers may remain on your teeth for your entire lifetime.
An Essix retainer looks a lot like Invisalign alignment trays. It is a removable appliance made of clear, smooth plastic that fits over your top and bottom teeth. You may eat whatever you like as long as you remove the retainer. You should also avoid colored beverages while wearing your Essix retainer, as they can become discolored if you do not remove them. Patients who prefer the nearly invisible nature of Invisalign will enjoy the same virtually invisible appearance of Essix retainers.
Why Do I Have To Wear a Retainer?
It is a fact of life that our teeth move constantly. Though the movements are incremental, the teeth are continuously shifting as the result of:
- Pressure from speaking and chewing
- Changes to the jaw as you age
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Gum disease, which weakens the jawbone
The teeth are inclined to shift even after months or years of orthodontic treatment. The process by which your teeth begin to drift back to their natural position is known as relapse. Fortunately, when worn as instructed, retainers will prevent relapse.
How Long Will I Have to Wear a Retainer After Orthodontic Treatment?
First the good news. You will likely only have to wear your retainer all the time for a short period after completing orthodontic treatment. At that point, your orthodontist may recommend that you wear it most days of the week. Eventually, you may only need to wear it at night. Ultimately, you’ll probably only need to wear it a few nights a week.
However, for optimal results, and because teeth are prone to shifting even years after orthodontic treatment, you should plan to wear your retainer occasionally at night, indefinitely.
Braces and Invisalign for Adults in Las Cruces
Orthodontic treatment for adults is more popular than ever. Thanks to more discreet options, including Invisalign and clear braces, adults who want to correct imperfect smiles or bite problems are not limited to noticeable bracket and wire braces. To schedule a consultation for orthodontic treatment at Legacy Smiles in Las Cruces, call 575-522-1500.