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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

 

Andrea,

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.

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What Can I Do for an Infection If a Root Canal Failed?

I had a root canal two years ago on my left upper molar. The tooth has been making my breath smell terrible for the past month. It also leaks pus. I think there is some swelling in the jawbone because when I woke up this morning, my cheek was puffy. I put off seeing a dentist because of anxiety. This morning, I started feeling dizzy. I’m terrified. The worst part is that I decided not to return to the dentist who did the root canal because he wasn’t careful. Although he used a local anesthetic, I could feel him digging through my tooth roots. I feel stuck. I was scheduled to get braces in June, and these complications are probably delaying my start date. Is there something I can do at home to control the infection, or am I forced to find a new dentist? Miguel from Chicago

Miguel,

Although Lim would need to examine and x-ray a tooth for accurate diagnosis, it sounds like your root canal failed.

You need to see an endodontist—or root canal specialist. If you have dental insurance that requires you to be referred by your general dentist, you can call the office and ask for a referral. If you are uncomfortable with that, ask trusted friends or family members for a referral to another dentist for an exam and referral.

Why Would Root Canal Treatment Fail?

Root canal treatment may fail due to lingering infection in the tooth. If a dentist does not clear the infection, it will progress, swell in your bone, produce toxins in your bloodstream, and affect your body. When an infection from a hole in the bone leaks in your mouth, you’ll have a nasty taste that can cause bad breath.

What Is the Treatment for Root Canal Failure?

After examining your tooth and taking digital x-rays, an endodontist may decide that treatment for root canal failure is a repeat root canal. You may need root canal surgery, such as an apicoectomy, to access the tooth through the gums and root tip. Although some general dentists perform advanced root canal treatment procedures, they usually refer patients to an endodontist.

When Can You Get Braces After a Failed Root Canal?

A conscientious dentist will not begin your orthodontic treatment until your oral health is stable and infection free. Schedule an appointment right away if you need a second-opinion dentist before you see an endodontist. There is nothing you can do at home to stop the infection.

 

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

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Braces ruined my bite, so my dentist says that I need crowns on all of my teeth.

I had braces when I was younger. I thought orthodontic treatment was supposed to fix my bite, but my current dentist told me that my bite was “off” and he says that I now need full-mouth reconstruction. There’s nothing about my bite that bothers me, though. And I can’t afford to get the number of crowns my dentist suggests I need.

Could I be missing something? Do I really need all those crowns to fix my bite, or is there an alternative?

— Grant from Sanford, ME

Hi Grant,

While it’s not unheard of for some people to have bite alignment issues after wearing braces, it doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re experiencing.

Most people who really need full-mouth construction are in pain or discomfort and need to have their teeth physically altered to take the stress off their TMJ. These people have bites that are so off they cannot chew, speak, yawn, or smile comfortably. And it isn’t as simple as placing a crown on each tooth. Full-mouth reconstruction requires both technical and artistic expertise to design crowns that are the perfect size, height, shape, and color for each tooth. When done well (and when it’s truly necessary) full-mouth reconstruction can be life changing.

What this means is that there should be a really compelling reason for you to get full-mouth reconstruction. We have no idea what your dentist saw in your mouth that made him feel obligated to recommend crowning all of your teeth. But, again, full-mouth reconstruction is an extensive and complex process which isn’t usually needed for people who don’t have any issues with the way their teeth fit together.

If you don’t feel like your dentist is giving you enough diagnostic evidence to justify the investment of a full-mouth reconstruction, then you should seek a second opinion.

In your particular case, you should consider seeking out a dentist with special training in TMJ treatment and full-mouth reconstruction. Such a dentist will carefully evaluate your bite, will let you know if there are signs of trouble, and can recommend more conservative measures to try correcting your bite before going the route of full-mouth reconstruction.

This post has been published on behalf of Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso dentist who has received training in creating balanced bites at The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies.

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Dentist damaged my son’s tooth while removing his orthodontic retainer. Is a root canal necessary?

My son wore braces for a year and half and has had a fixed retainer on the inside of his lower front teeth for the past three years. The dentist was trying to remove the retainer recently, and it seems that he damaged one of my son’s lower teeth in the process. The tooth began hurting after the retainer was removed and it has since started to turn gray. My son can’t bite on that tooth and he says that it hurts when he wears his retainer. The tooth is also extremely sensitive, even to just plain water.

We went back to the dentist to get it looked at and he took an X-ray and did a cold test. He said that he suspects that the tooth is dying and may need a root canal. The dentist then referred us to an endodontist for specialist treatment. I’m surprised that the tooth might need root canal treatment.

Is there any chance it’s simply bruised and only needs a little time to heal?

— Sam

Hi Sam,

Unfortunately, when a tooth dies, a root canal is necessary to stop the pain and prevent the infection from spreading. A tooth is filled with living tissue that swells in response to infection and injury, just like tissue anywhere else in the body. The problem with teeth, however, is that there’s no room for the inflamed tissue to swell as it’s confined to the inside of the hard outer layers of the tooth.

If your son’s tooth is truly dead or dying, then a root canal is the best treatment to help him get relief.

A root canal is the only treatment option once the inside of a tooth is compromised by damage or decay.

And based upon the description of your son’s symptoms (namely, sensitivity to biting and cold temperatures) it sounds like your dentist did the right thing by referring your son to an endodontic specialist for a more definitive diagnosis. Those are classic signs of a dying tooth.

It’s worth noting that removing a permanent retainer should be a straightforward procedure with very little risk of damaging the teeth. If your dentist truly caused the injury to your son’s tooth, then he should pay for the root canal to repair the damage.

Additionally, while braces and retainers are only rarely connected with complications like the one your son has experienced, some people find that they get excellent results when they choose an alternative to traditional orthodontic treatment.

If you, your son, or anyone else in your family needs to see an orthodontist in the future, you might want to consider exploring a method such as facial growth guidance.

This post was published on behalf of Dr. Heng Lim, a whole health dentist in Owasso.

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How to get rid of a black triangle between teeth after braces.

I’ve had braces in the past, but a tooth shifted out of place, so my current orthodontist ground down part of my tooth by about 2 millimeters to fit the spring retainer he made. The problem is that shaving my tooth like that has left this weird black triangle between my teeth where the gums don’t fill in.

Is it possible to make the gums grow to fill in this space? I hate the way it looks!

Thanks for any advice you can share!

Gina from New Jersey

A photograph of teeth that have black triangles of empty space between them near the gum line.
One or more black triangles after orthodontic treatment can make you feel self-conscious about the appearance of your smile.

Hello, Gina

We can’t give you any definitive advice based on our limited understanding of your situation, however, we can share some basic information.

For starters, your orthodontist may have a plan to correct that gap. Your treatment is not yet complete, so you can continue working with him to find out what kind of results he hopes to achieve with the spring retainer or other orthodontic appliances.

Second, your gums are not likely to grow in enough to fill the empty space. Your gum line will follow the natural contours and spacing of your teeth because gum tissue doesn’t grow over nothing; it needs a foundation. Even if you were to surgically alter your gum tissue with a graft to fill in the gap, the tissue would shrink back to its normal contours over time.

Finally, closing up a black triangle like yours can be quite challenging, depending on the shape of your teeth. Sometimes teeth are left with these gaps even when they are perfectly straight and even when they touch evenly on the sides. So once your orthodontic treatment is complete, we recommend that you see an excellent cosmetic dentist who can apply just the right amount of natural-looking dental bonding to change the shape of your teeth and close the gap.

This post has been published on behalf of Dr. Heng Lim, an Owasso dentist who takes a comprehensive treatment approach to orthodontics.

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