Teeth whitening has increased in popularity over the last decade. We see celebrities flashing their iridescent smiles on social media all the time. For many patients, after their braces are removed, they want to achieve the same Hollywood look!
You’ve gone through all that hard work and want to show off your beautiful new smile, so what’s the safest and best way to get whiter teeth after your braces are removed?
Methods of Teeth Whitening
There are several methods to whiten your teeth after braces. The Orthodontists don’t provide any teeth whitening services so we recommend seeing your dentist for a scale and clean, and to discuss risks and costs of your options before proceeding with any whitening treatments.
Teeth whitening products and services include:
At home products bought over the counter or internet
At home products supplied by your dentist
Treatment provided by your dentist at the surgery
Over the Counter Products
For some people a whitening toothpaste bought at the supermarket is all they need to slightly brighten the colour of their teeth. Others may try whitening strips, which also offer minimal change in the colour of teeth.
Australia has strict rules around the sale of teeth whitening products that contain hydrogen peroxide and/or carbamide peroxide. In 2013, the states and territories agreed to limit the sale of products containing over 6% hydrogen peroxide and/or 18% or more carbamide peroxide to be dispensed only by dental professionals. A dentist may use products with higher concentrations of the active ingredient either in the surgery or provide them as take home kits.
For the safest and best result, we recommend consulting your dentist rather than purchasing any over the counter products.
Professional Dental Treatment
Once you have your braces off and you’re keen to have your teeth whitened, we recommend you make an appointment with your dentist to discuss your options.
Remember to wait at least four weeks after your braces are off before you have any teeth whitening treatment as it takes a month for the gums to settle down. Using a teeth whitening product any sooner can aggravate the gums.
After discussing with your dentist what colour is achievable with the whitening treatment, your dentist can make some recommendations.
Treatment at the Dental Surgery
If you’re hoping to whiten your teeth by significantly, in surgery whitening may be your only option. Dentists can use more powerful methods than any at-home treatment to deliver a whiter result.
At-Home Treatment Supplied by Dentist
Your dentist may offer you a method that involves whitening your teeth at home. This method is usually more time consuming and may have a less dramatic effect than can be achieved in the dentist’s chair, but may be what you’re looking for.
What Causes Teeth Discolouration?
Teeth can discolour for a variety of reasons, such as poor oral hygiene, eating stain-causing food and drinks, tobacco and certain medications. There are two types of teeth discolouration - extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic discolouration are stains that affect the outside of the teeth. The stains are caused by poor oral hygiene, food, beverages and smoking.
Stained Teeth from Braces
People with braces who look after their teeth by brushing and flossing after meals and snacks, won’t experience any staining. But some people have small white squares where the brackets were glued to their teeth. The remaining surfaces of their teeth were unprotected from food and drinks high in sugar or colour. A lack of proper brushing, flossing and visits to the dentists have left their teeth stained.
Teeth whitening can help even out the difference in colour so the stains are less noticeable or even disappear.
Food and Beverage Stains
Some foods and drinks are worse than others for leaving our teeth stained. Sugary drinks and foods cause a build-up of plaque which can cause stains and decay.
Tea and coffee contain tannins which can stain teeth. Red wine drinkers are also at risk of stained teeth.
Even healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables can cause havoc with our teeth. The high acid content can cause the enamel to weaken over time making the teeth more vulnerable to staining. If you drink lemon water, use a straw so most of the liquid by-passes your teeth. Drink it fairly quickly rather than sipping on it all morning, so you don’t bathe your teeth in acid.
By far the worst thing you can do for teeth (and your health) is to smoke. Nicotine stains buildup on teeth and no amount of brushing or dentist visits can remove them. Teeth whitening is the only way to disguise some of the stains on smokers’ teeth.
Intrinsic discolouration occurs from within the tooth. The reasons for the discolouration can include medications, a childhood illness, trauma to a tooth and aging. Some people naturally have more yellow teeth than the average person.
Intrinsic discolouration is more difficult to treat than extrinsic discolouration. At-home products are less likely to be effective in whitening teeth and may need professional treatment to gain a positive result.
Are There Any Side Effects to Teeth Whitening?
Teeth whitening is considered safe, but you may experience some side effects from your treatment.
Sensitive Teeth & Gums
Some people report sensitive teeth and/or gums during and after teeth whitening treatments. It’s caused by exposure of the dentin layer during whitening. If you’ve ever experienced sensitive teeth or gums while eating, brushing or during previous whitening treatments, mention it to your dentist. There might be a whitening method that’s better suited to you.
Irritation of Gums
Soft tissue irritation can occur when the whitening solution comes in contact with the gum tissue during some methods. This causes your gums to appear white and cause pain. The gum tissue should be protected at all times, from any exposure to highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. In most cases, the pain and whiteness disappears soon after but prolonged exposure to these solutions can cause inflammation to the gums.
Depending on the initial colour and condition of your teeth your results could be undesirable. You might expect your teeth to be whiter after the treatment. To ensure you aren’t disappointed, discuss with your dentist the likely outcome from treatment. Heavy staining or naturally yellow teeth can be difficult to whiten.
Too many whitening treatments can cause teeth to appear translucent or grey in colour so always follow the advice of your dentist so you don’t over treat your teeth.
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How Long Does Teeth Whitening Last?
Depending on the method you use, teeth whitening may last for months or years. Just like when you had braces, good oral hygiene and regular cleans at your dentist can keep your teeth looking bright and white as long as possible.
Your teeth will yellow with age, foods and drinks that stain, smoking and some medications. When it’s time, revisit your dentist for a follow up treatment to give your teeth a whitening boost.
When Is Teeth Whitening Not an Option?
For most, teeth whitening solves stains and brightens teeth. However, dentists may advise against whitening for people with veneers, sensitive teeth and gums, damaged teeth and certain fillings.
If you have any oral hygiene queries, don’t hesitate to call a therapist at the clinic or contact us online. We’re always happy to help and answer any questions.