How to Avoid Tooth Stains with Invisalign
Keeping your teeth clean is a great lifelong habit, but it’s especially important when you are in the middle of orthodontic treatment. While the results of getting braces or Invisalign will help you combat oral health issues, you will be more vulnerable to tooth decay during your orthodontic treatment. Another problem to look out for is staining, which can become an issue even with Invisalign. Here’s how you can avoid tooth stains with Invisalign.
Causes of Tooth Stains
There can be many reasons for tooth discoloration and staining. Predominantly, stains from eating or drinking are the easiest to avoid and fix. Teeth can also become stained from the aging process. Even if someone spends most of their life regularly flossing and brushing, the enamel in the teeth gradually gets worn away to expose the more yellow layer of the teeth called the dentin. Teeth can also become discolored from facial trauma and injury that may kill the nerves of the teeth, making them a grayish color.
Smoking and using other tobacco and nicotine products also contribute to tooth discoloration. If you smoke or use chewing tobacco, the best thing for your teeth (and your general health) is to quit. Medical treatments such as high blood pressure medications, chemotherapy, antihistamines, and some antipsychotic medications can cause teeth stains.
Invisalign and Tooth Stains
Generally speaking, more people are worried about staining their teeth when they have braces compared to Invisalign. This is because the brackets can lead to two-toned teeth once they’re removed. But if you aren’t careful, you could end up with teeth that fall short of your pearly white expectations when you complete Invisalign too. Since the clear aligners wrap over the whole surface of each tooth, they can trap food or beverage particles that aren’t cleaned off after eating, preventing water and saliva from rinsing your teeth throughout the day. This means dark foods or drinks could sit even longer on your teeth than with braces.
Fortunately, with Invisalign, you may be able to start whitening treatment while still receiving effective orthodontic treatment. If you’re using Invisalign to straighten your smile, you can often also use it to whiten it as well. Ask your orthodontist about using your aligners as bleaching trays.
Whitening Your Teeth while Wearing Braces
In general, it’s not a good idea to whiten your teeth while you have braces because the whitening can’t reach beneath the brackets, leaving those areas duller than those exposed to the whitening. Whitening before you get braces also might not be the best plan because the bleaching solution used may leave your teeth more sensitive.
Whitening toothpaste is not recommended when you have braces for the same reason you shouldn’t use other whitening products, although the toothpaste likely won’t cause quite as much of a change in tooth color as actual whitening.
Once your braces come off, that is the right time to brighten your newly straightened smile.
Cleaning Your Teeth
To make sure your teeth are as stain-free as possible, the best practice is to brush your teeth with toothpaste after every meal. The longer food stays on your teeth, the more it can stain. By brushing right away, you can reduce your teeth’s exposure to staining agents.
To maximize your cleaning potential when you brush your teeth after eating, consider using an electric toothbrush. It’s also important to floss every day to avoid tooth decay and gum disease. You should consider supplementing your cleaning with a water flosser and mouthwash as well for an enhanced clean.
Avoid Teeth-Staining Foods
While cleaning your teeth and drinking water will help wash away food residue before it can stain your teeth, your best bet to keep from staining your teeth while you have Invisalign or braces is to avoid foods that cause staining.
Some of the biggest culprits are dark sauces that are added to meals, like barbecue sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, or sriracha sauce. Drinks such as red wine, coffee, and dark sodas are also major sources of staining. Essentially, if it could stain your clothes, it can most likely stain your teeth. While it’s unrealistic to expect patients to eliminate these foods from their diets altogether, you should limit your intake of them and be sure to clean your teeth after eating or drinking them.
Another way to avoid teeth stains while still enjoying your favorite dark beverages is to sip them through a straw. Avoiding direct contact on the teeth helps prevent further staining. Even when using a straw, it is still a good idea to rinse and brush after your morning coffee or evening glass of merlot.
Getting Dental Checkups Helps Avoid Tooth Stains
In the same way that it’s even more important to clean your teeth while completing Invisalign and braces, it’s also more important to go to the dentist. Getting regular cleanings will help you avoid tooth decay while also keeping your smile bright and stain-free.
Following these tips will help ensure your smile is not only straighter, but also whiter when you finish your treatment.
At Milnor Orthodontics, our experts are here to help you achieve a priceless smile. Call our office at (970) 484-3214 or visit milnororthodontics.com to learn more. We're located at 1103 S. Shields St. in Fort Collins, Colorado.