Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How can I prevent staining from metal braces?"
I am about to get metal braces for the first time and I am a bit nervous about how to maintain the color of my teeth while I have them. A lot of my friends get their braces off only to realize that they have staining where the brackets once were, prompting them to go in for additional whitening treatments. Sometimes the staining never fully goes away, in spite of frequent treatments and cleanings. How can I stop my teeth from becoming stained from braces? Do I have to get Invisalign for this to be a reality?
This is an important question to discuss with your dentist. You do not necessarily have to avoid metal braces to avoid problems with staining once the braces are removed. Many patients with metal braces have no problems at all with staining once the braces are removed. The best way to avoid discoloration of your teeth while you have braces is to avoid the foods and activities most likely to stain your teeth in the first place. If you smoke or use chewing tobacco, quit today. These products not only strongly stain your teeth, they cause cancer and lead to an early, uncomfortable death. If you are of drinking age, avoid wine; red wine stain teeth and white wine makes teeth more susceptible to staining. Avoid tea, black tea is rich in tannins which stain teeth strongly. If you love tea, stick to herbal, green, and white teas, which are less likely to stain your teeth. Avoid cola, dark colas stain teeth and all colas contain acids that make teeth more susceptible to staining. Avoid acidic beverages in general, citrus juices and even sports drinks are acidic enough to promote staining of teeth by other things. You might notice most beverages besides water tend to fall into the category of things that stain teeth; one tip sometimes offered is to use a straw to minimize the amount of exposure your teeth get to the staining substance. Avoid strongly pigmented foods such as dark berries and deeply colored sauces. Avoiding sweets is good general advice to improve your physical and dental health and is also important if you are concerned about tooth staining. Most sweets have artificial dyes that are strong enough to stain teeth if consumed regularly. The other important step to avoiding stained teeth is practicing good dental hygiene. Brush your teeth and tongue three times daily, at least 30 minutes after eating, for at least 2 minutes a brushing. Floss daily (specialized products are available to help you clean your gums while you have braces). Rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water after each time you eat. Do not let trapped food linger in your braces; pay attention to you braces and clean them regularly. Again, visit your dentist regularly before, during, and after getting braces. Following these simple tips will greatly increase your chances of ending up with a beautiful, white, perfectly aligned smile when the braces finally come off!
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