Here at Castilla Orthodontics, we know that orthodontic treatment with braces can be quite a journey, requiring a lot of time and dedication on your part. When the day finally comes to ditch the brackets and wires, it’s something worth celebrating! But what happens if your newly aligned teeth are discolored or you just want them whiter and brighter?

It’s common for patients to desire a whiter smile after completion of orthodontic treatment. After all, your teeth are now beautifully straight. Whitening can be the icing on the cake! The finishing touch! Fortunately, professional teeth whitening after braces can give you the kind of bright and beautiful smile you want to show off to the world.

Let’s take a closer look at what options are available to you once your braces come off.     

Options for teeth whitening

girl comparing tooth shades

There are quite a few options when it comes to teeth whitening, from toothpastes to in-office bleaching. While over-the-counter products are available for teeth whitening, professional procedures will generally provide the best results. These tend to use much more powerful products that are able to produce the desired effect in a shorter period of time. Over-the-counter products can contain abrasive chemicals that may irritate your mouth when used over an extended length of time. Professional services protect your entire mouth, including the tooth enamel.

Tray bleaching

Castilla Orthodontics are proud to offer our patients at-home professional whitening trays at an affordable price. These trays are made with a custom mold of your teeth so they fit perfectly over your teeth. This can take from a few hours to a few days to make. The whitening gel used with the trays is only available through a dentist or orthodontist. Once you receive the tray, you’ll place the whitening gel in the custom-fitted tray, and the gel will whiten your stained teeth. Unlike strips, this process is able to whiten all your natural teeth, not just the front ones. Although you may notice results in as little as three to five days, most at-home professional tray whitening will take about ten days to two weeks to yield the best results.

Paint-on teeth whiteners

Available in many over-the-counter varieties, this option tends to be relatively inexpensive, but is less effective than whitening strips or professional treatments. These whiteners essentially consist of a gel that you apply to the teeth using a small brush. This hardens into a film that coats the teeth and dissolves in the mouth. This gel has a peroxide component similar to the gel used in tray bleaching, but this variation is less effective because it dissolves in the mouth.

Whitening strips

Teeth-whitening strips usually consist of thin, flexible plastic polyethylene strips that have a thin film of hydrogen peroxide on one side. Whitening strip kits tend to come with two types of strips — one for the upper teeth and another for the lower teeth. The strips are placed across your teeth, gel side down, gently pressing the whitening agent in place, taking care to ensure contact with all your teeth. These are typically worn for thirty minutes, twice a day. The length of time required to see results will depend on how efficient the strip variety you’ve chosen is. While convenient, the main disadvantage of strips is that they only whiten your front teeth, while professional whitening will whiten all of your teeth.

Whitening toothpaste and mouthwash

Whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes are the least expensive and most easily accessible option for brightening up your smile. These products work to remove surface stains using mild abrasives, but cannot lighten the actual color shade of your teeth. They will, however, slightly lighten your teeth, as long as you are using them regularly.

Your regular toothpaste is designed to help remove some surface stains as they clean teeth and improve the health of your mouth. Whitening toothpastes take this one step further by adding more abrasive ingredients, such as silica, to scrub the surface of the teeth and help remove even more surface stains.

After you begin using a whitening toothpaste, it can take several weeks to begin to see results. Because a whitening toothpaste doesn’t change the actual color of your teeth, any results can be undone by continuing habits that contribute to stains on the teeth, or by discontinuing use of the product. Always look for a whitening toothpaste that has a seal of approval from the American Dental Association.

How does teeth whitening work?

To understand how teeth whitening works, you need to understand how teeth become discolored in the first place. There are two types of discoloration: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are basically surface stains left from coffee, tea, nicotine, etc. Brushing your teeth daily with a whitening toothpaste can help to remove some of these extrinsic stains. Intrinsic stains are actually below the enamel, and these are caused by years of exposure to staining substances, making them harder to remove.

Teeth whitening agents are able to get stains from “inside” your tooth out with whitening gels, or bleaching agents, that contain an oxidizing agent in the form of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. This is the active ingredient in most whitening agents. The gel reacts with the internal aspect of your tooth, mixing with the discolored areas and breaking them apart, giving your teeth a noticeably whiter appearance!

Results will vary when you use whitening toothpastes and other whitening products, depending on your specific teeth. Whitening treatments are also incapable of changing the color of fillings, veneers, or crowns. For lasting results with tooth whitening toothpaste, you’ll need to continue to use it as directed, brushing with it at least twice per day. Don’t forget to floss for the overall health of your teeth and gums, too.

Brightening your newly straightened smile with Castilla Orthodontics

Dr. Castilla and a patient

After your braces have been removed, we recommend getting a professional cleaning at your general dentist’s office before attempting any sort of whitening treatment. This will ensure all outer stains, plaque, or tartar is removed before the whitening process. Sometimes, whitening may cause tooth sensitivity. This sensitivity is temporary and goes away once you complete the whitening treatment.  If you know you are prone to sensitive teeth, you can try using a desensitizing toothpaste for at least one month before beginning any whitening. You should also let us know if you are having any sensitivity, as Dr. Castilla may be able to change the protocol or frequency of the whitening application.

Whether you are a current or past braces patient with Castilla Orthodontics, or you are looking for teeth whitening options in Salem or the surrounding areas, we can help answer any questions you have about achieving a brighter, whiter smiles after braces treatment. Get in touch with us today to schedule your free consultation! We can help top your new smile off with the finishing touch!