Problems after braces

I just had my braces removed. I’ve worn them for two years. For some reason there are white spots on my teeth, as well as little “dips”. My teeth also seem to be getting very stained, even though I don’t drink things like coffee. Do you know what it going on? Is there any way to fix it?

Paula W. -Ft. Worth, Texas


We see this more often in teenagers. You didn’t mention how old you are. Under normal circumstances, when you eat, the food will slough off your teeth. But, when you are wearing traditional braces, the food gets trapped in the metal brackets. If your teeth aren’t brushed well enough the food will sit there for hours, while their acid-producing bacteria go to work on your teeth. It isn’t until after your braces are removed that the damage becomes obvious.

The white spots on your teeth are from decalcification, and is where your teeth have lost some minerals. These spots tend to be porous, which will attract stains and may even turn brown. If the damage is severe enough, it will chip away leaving potholes in your teeth. Underneath could even be decay. The thing to take away from this is to be a help to others wearing braces, by letting them know how important it is they brush their teeth thoroughly after each meal. If they are in a social situation and can’t brush, they can excuse themselves to swish some water around in their mouth to clean it out as best as they can.

Alternately, instead of getting traditional braces, you could suggest Invisalign to your friends. There are no wires and brackets to trap food. Additionally, when it is time to eat, you simply remove the device, eat your meal, brush your teeth, and then put the aligners right back in. It is very hygienic and allows you to avoid all the potential tooth damage that can be done with traditional braces.

But, what do you do if it is too late and the damage is already done? First, do NOT do any teeth whitening to try to solve the problem. It will only make the spots look worse. Instead, if the damage is confined to a few spots you can have composite of bonding placed on the areas. If it is more widespread, then you’ll need to go with porcelain veneers.

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