A bright smile can go a long way in boosting your self-confidence. Studies show having good oral health boosts your confidence — even more than having clear skin or being in good physical shape!
If you’re straightening your teeth with braces or Invisalign, you already know how important it is to feel great about your smile. But you might be wondering if you can make your teeth whiter while you straighten them.
Teeth whitening with braces takes more care since the brackets cover parts of your teeth, and Invisalign requires wearing your aligners for most of the day. That means certain teeth whitening treatments can make your teeth look spotty, or interrupt your orthodontic treatment.
But you do have some options to whiten your teeth with Invisalign or braces. Here’s how to safely whiten your teeth with braces or Invisalign — and which options to avoid.
How to Whiten Teeth with Braces
Traditional braces are a tried-and-true method of achieving a straight, healthy smile. But what about teeth whitening with braces?
Because the brackets of braces are glued to the surface of your teeth, it isn’t possible to whiten your entire tooth evenly while you have braces. The wire of braces can also make it difficult to apply whitening strips or whitening trays.
We recommend waiting until your braces are off before giving whitening strips, trays, or LED teeth whitening treatments a try. Besides being difficult to manage with the brackets and wires in your mouth, whitening your teeth with braces can cause them to look uneven. The exposed parts of the tooth may brighten up, but the part that’s covered by brackets will stay the same shade they were before.
The best way to gently whiten your teeth and prevent stains while you have braces is to use a whitening toothpaste or whitening mouthwash. Since you’re already brushing twice a day, using whitening toothpaste is an easy way to achieve a brighter smile with little effort.
Use an electric toothbrush with your whitening toothpaste and be sure to floss daily. This will free teeth from food buildup that can cause stains and decay.
Best Teeth Whitening with Invisalign
If you have Invisalign, you have a few more options for whitening your teeth. Because Invisalign aligners are removable, you can take them out for short periods to whiten your teeth.
If you’re wondering how to whiten teeth with Invisalign, opt for quick treatments that allow you to return your Invisalign trays to your mouth as soon as possible.
You can either go to your dentist for an in-office whitening treatment or whiten your teeth at home. If you choose to whiten your teeth at the dentist’s office, your dentist will use a stronger whitening gel that requires medical supervision. If you’d prefer a DIY approach, there are many very effective options for whitening your teeth at home.
How to Whiten Your Teeth at Home with Invisalign
Some at-home whitening kits, like Crest Whitestrips, have a strip of flexible plastic coated in whitening gel. You apply these strips to your clean, dry teeth and leave them on for 30 minutes (or however long the instructions suggest).
Other newer kits, like Colgate’s SuperNova Rechargeable At-Home Teeth Whitening Kit use an LED light to whiten teeth.
Whichever whitening method you choose, you can simply remove your Invisalign trays, whiten your teeth (at home or at your dentist’s office), and then put them back in once the treatment is completed.
Invisalign recommends wearing your trays for 20 to 22 hours each day to get the full benefits. By taking your trays out occasionally for short periods of time, you are unlikely to slow the progress of your teeth moving into a beautiful, straight smile.
More Ways to Keep Your Teeth White with Braces
While your braces straighten your smile, you can whiten your teeth naturally by paying attention to what you expose your teeth to. It’s easier to prevent stains than it is to remove them, and with a few simple steps, you can maintain a whiter smile.
Avoid Tooth-Staining Foods and Drinks
- Try to limit foods and beverages that can stain teeth like black tea, coffee, red wine, dark cola, and tomato-based sauces.
- If you do eat or drink those foods, be sure to drink water afterward to help flush the stain-causing residue from your mouth.
Avoid Tobacco Products
- Avoid tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco. These can stain teeth (and cause many other health problems).
Maintaining a white smile by avoiding stains is important, but caring for your smile doesn’t stop there.
Caring For Your Teeth After Braces
Once you’re done with braces or Invisalign, we hope you love the way your teeth look. And after putting in so much time and money, we know you want to keep your smile looking great.
Teeth tend to move after braces are removed. Braces and Invisalign shift your teeth into different positions, and it takes time for the fibers in your gums to hold your teeth in their new places. Without reinforcement, your teeth could shift right back where they came from.
That’s where retainers come in. Retainers hold your teeth in place so your gums and bone can strengthen enough to maintain your teeth alignment. After you get your braces off, we have retainers made to fit your mouth.
We’ll give you a recommendation of how often to wear your retainers to keep your teeth in place. Typically, we advise people to wear their retainers all day and night (except when eating) for the first few months after braces or Invisalign. After that, we recommend wearing your retainers at night to reinforce the alignment of your teeth.
If your retainers start to feel uncomfortable, make an appointment so we can take a look at your teeth and make sure things haven’t shifted too much.