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Can I Get Advice on a Braces at Home Brands?

A woman holding an orthodontic aligner for information on braces at home brandsI’ve always wanted straight teeth but could not afford braces. Now that there are so many brands of braces at home, I am confused about which one to pick. Can you tell me which brands are good and which I should stay away from? Does the doctor there recommend a specific brand? If not, what should I look for in the service description to help me choose a good product? Thank you. Moncie from Brooklyn, NY


Thank you for your question. Most people look for braces at home because they are more affordable than in-office dentist supervision and require no or few visits to a dental office. We will explain why we do not recommend this method.

Which Braces-at-Home Brands Are Best?

Even the best brands of braces at home are unable to give you the same personalized care as in-person orthodontics. Orthodontists do more than provide you with braces. They do the following:

  • Perform digital x-rays to evaluate your oral health, teeth, and bone
  • Determine why your teeth are misaligned and whether your concerns involve your jaw, teeth, or both
  • Assess which type of braces will give you the best results
  • Decide if an oral appliance other than braces is required to correct your jaw or bite

What Are the Risks of Braces at Home?

The risks of braces at home are related to their limitations and treatment accuracy.

  • Case limitations – Braces at home cannot correct cases of severe alignment and spacing issues. Although a company may claim to improve your teeth, you may not get the desired results and need to continue care with an in-person dentist or orthodontist.
  • Limited adjustment capability – An orthodontist monitors your treatment progress and determines whether your braces need adjustment. These factors require in-person visits and cannot be left to chance or photos alone. In-person visits allow a dentist or orthodontist to check your appliance for fit as you wear it.
  • Damage from inaccurate treatment – Miscalculated changes can damage your teeth, roots, or gums and worsen underlying issues.

Dentists and orthodontists offer options to make treatment affordable without sacrificing quality. Ask a trained dentist about their financial arrangements to help you afford braces. If you cannot afford braces now, avoid taking your oral health into your own hands.

Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso, Oklahoma cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.


My Temporary Dental Bridge Makes My Jaw Hurt

My dentist thought it was time to replace my dental bridge before it broke. I’ve had the bridge since 2007.  It was comfortable, but my dentist said I should replace it before it wears out. I am wearing a temporary bridge and have been taking ibuprofen since I got it. The bridge makes the left side of my mouth and jaw hurt. Whenever I talk or eat, the pain is intense. Even after taking x-rays, my dentist cannot explain my pain. I am afraid of how long I will need to wear a temporary bridge because I will not approve a final bridge unless the temporary one fits well. Is it normal for a temporary bridge to cause ongoing pain? Ismael from Austin, TX


Thank you for your question. Dr. Lim would need to examine your bridge, teeth, and x-rays for an accurate diagnosis. But we will explain factors that can cause discomfort with a temporary bridge.

Why Would a Temporary Bridge Hurt?

Dental bridge with four crowns
The ends of a dental bridge cover natural teeth, and replacement teeth are in the middle

A temporary bridge may hurt if your teeth are sensitive after preparing them or dental crowns if you have an infection. Also, the bridge position can cause discomfort. Consider the factors:

  • Sensitive teeth after preparation – Before placing a bridge, your dentist must shave down two natural teeth that the bridge will fit over for support. After preparation, the teeth can ache and become sensitive to cold and hot foods and drinks.
  • Irritation from bacteria – Bacteria from decay beneath an old dental bridge or its components can linger and cause irritation and discomfort.
  • Bridge position – A bridge that does not fit well can affect your bite. When you chew, the teeth opposite the bridge (upper or lower) can hit the crowns in the bridge harder than usual and create sensitivity. Your symptoms may include jaw pain, neck pain, or headaches.

Referring You to a Root Canal Specialist

If your dentist cannot determine why your jaw hurts, she can refer you to an endodontist (root canal specialist). The specialist will x-ray and examine your teeth and conduct a sensitivity test. An x-ray will show whether the tooth pulp is infected and requires root canal treatment.

Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso, Oklahoma cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.


Will Teeth Whitening Fix Brown and White Spots After Braces?

Woman with braces brushing her teeth; for information on brown and white spots with bracesI wore braces for two years and finally finished treatment last month. Although my teeth are straight, I have brown and white stains that will not come off with whitening strips. I am self-conscious about my smile but do not want to ruin it. Is a dentist’s teeth whitening treatment strong enough for the stains, or will I need veneers? I hate the thought of another round of dental treatment that costs thousands of dollars. Thank you. Andrea from Decatur, GA



Thank you for your question. Although Dr. Lim would need to examine your teeth, decalcification is probably causing the stains on your teeth.

What Causes Brown or White Stains After Braces?

Unremoved food debris around braces causes brown or white spots. Decalcification is the beginning stage of tooth decay. Without diligent flossing and brushing around braces, food debris can mix with your saliva, and bacteria can eat away at your tooth enamel, causing tooth discoloration.

Will Teeth Whitening Fix Brown or White Stains After Braces?

Teeth whitening will not correct brown or white spots after braces; it will make the spots more noticeable. Depending on the severity of the stains, an expert cosmetic can use direct dental bonding to conceal the stains. Advanced cosmetic dentists have an inventory of highly specialized composite materials to match the shade and translucence of your teeth.

A trained cosmetic applies bonding to your teeth while you sit in the dental chair. Cosmetic dentists use these steps:

  • Clean your teeth, roughen, and etch each affected tooth in preparation for bonding
  • Apply a bonding agent to your teeth
  • Blend composites to match your tooth shade
  • Apply the bonding to hide the brown and white spots
  • Shape, trim, and harden the composite
  • Polish the composite to a natural gloss

Look for a dentist with advanced cosmetic dentistry training. They may recommend teeth bleaching first to whiten all your teeth, then apply dental bonding over the brown and white spots.

You can schedule consultations with two cosmetic dentists for an exam and an explanation of your options.


Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso, Oklahoma cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.