Stains on my teeth after braces

I have had braces in the past and now have stains on my teeth. Can they be whitened either professionally or by in-store products, or will this harm my teeth? Some people have said that the teeth are now softer because of the braces. I realize that I probably caused this by not following through with a better cleaning process while I had the braces, but, now would like to correct the problem. Do the whitening products on the market cause problems with people who have had braces?
- Kathy from Oregon

Kathy,
I am guessing that your stains are uneven. Usually the stains that your teeth get after braces are spots where decay started around the brackets. They start out turning white and then become brown. And they’re in spots.

Bleaching is not the correct treatment for spots. It will make them look worse. Because, while it will whiten the spots a little, it whitens the unspotted parts of the teeth more. So the spots become more prominent. Bleaching is for dark teeth that are evenly dark.

What you need for your spots is tooth bonding. You need a cosmetic dentist who will remove the dark spots and then cover them over with composite bonding material. That will “erase” them and bring back your beautiful smile.

If you want to bleach, a Zoom whitening treatment before doing the bonding will make the white parts of your teeth whiter, and then the bonding material can be a lighter color. But you will need to do the tooth bonding – you can’t get around that.

One of the advantages of Invisalign invisible braces is that you don’t ever get this spotting of the teeth. The spotting comes when you don’t get your teeth clean after eating, and food debris collects around the brackets, and then the enamel starts to break down because the decay process starts around the brackets. With Invisalign, you can remove the aligners to eat and to clean your teeth. There are no brackets to collect food.