I am seventeen years old. Six weeks ago, I had my braces taken off. I was so excited, but now it seems like I am having nothing but trouble with my teeth. Now I have these weird rough places where the brackets used to be, and I swear my teeth look darker every day. I don’t drink much cola or anything like that, but it seems like everything I eat is staining my teeth! I brush all the time, but it doesn’t seem to help. I am also going crazy because eating anything hot or cold hurts like crazy!
Did my orthodontist do something wrong when he took off my brackets? I wondered that because the worst spots are where the brackets used to be. Should I try some teeth whitening stuff to get rid of the stains? I was really looking forward to getting the braces off. It took more than two years! And now they just seem to be getting worse every day.
Can you help?
Jonah from Maine
It is pretty unusual to see damage from bracket removal, though it is not unheard of. What you are describing, though, does not sound like damage that would be caused by improper bracket removal. The spots you are describing sound like areas of decalcification. Decalcification is when calcium is lost from bone, in this case your teeth. Left untreated, areas of decalcification on your teeth can become cavities.
Your situation is not unusual in people who have had braces. Is it possible that you were not as diligent as you could have been about brushing your teeth every time you ate? Brackets catch food and hold it against the tooth, where the acid-producing bacteria in your saliva work on both the food and the localized tooth material for hours. As you are seeing, over the course of years of treatment that kind of daily damage to your teeth can take a heavy toll.
Don’t try to bleach your teeth with any over the counter products. It will likely make your teeth look worse, not better, and if you go in to an office for a teeth whitening procedure, an ethical professional would tell you the same thing.
Though it is difficult to hear this, the solutions involve more dental work. If the damage is confined to a few small areas, then a good cosmetic dentist can use dental bonding to repair the damage. If the damage is more extensive, you made need porcelain veneers.
If you have friends that still have braces, maybe you can serve as their cautionary tale. Tell them what can happen if they are not diligent about caring for their teeth.