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Understanding Decalcification and Braces
There is no doubt that when you first decided to enter into the expense and long process of straightening your teeth with braces that you imagined a spectacular Hollywood smile when they came off. In most cases, this is what you get, but in some cases, you can be left with a nightmare. A process known as decalcification can leave you with pits, white spots, and damaged teeth around where the brackets and wires were. Understanding decalcification and what causes it can help to avoid this tragedy.
What Is Decalcification?
The first question you may be asking is, what is decalcification? One of the most common misconceptions about decalcification is that it is caused by the braces themselves. However, this is not the case. Decalcification is caused by the plaque being allowed to stay on the teeth for a long period of time. Decalcification can occur whether you have braces or not.
Plaque is caused by a bacteria. Plaque is sticky and likes to adhere to smooth areas. The plaque begins to eat away your enamel, which causes white spots. If allowed to continue, these white spots will eventually into cavities. The problem with decalcification is not that it makes your teeth unsightly, it is a sign that your teeth are being destroyed over time. This is a serious problem and can lead to more troubles down the road.
Preventing decalcification can be difficult when you have braces because some parts of your teeth are difficult to reach with the toothbrush. Proper brushing can prevent decalcification, but it is not always easy to achieve.
When Will My Orthodontist Remove My Braces?
The next question you may have is, when will my orthodontist remove my braces? At each visit, your orthodontist will check for white spots that are the first signs of decalcification. If you have regularly scheduled checkups, it is more than likely that you will catch the spots before they become serious cavities. If you have a few decalcification spots, it is more than likely that the orthodontist will recommend products that will help you take better care of your teeth and mouth while you are wearing braces.
Keeping your teeth clean is the first step in preventing decalcification and eventual cavities. If the decalcification process has already begun, your dentist may recommend products that can help you restore enamel that has been eroded away. Products can also help strengthen the enamel that you already have. Some of these products are by prescription only, and others are available over-the-counter. Of course, the ones that your orthodontist prescribes are stronger and may be more helpful in preventing further progress along the road to cavities.
Unfortunately, once white spots and cavities have appeared, they are often permanent, unless you receive more drastic treatment, such as crowns or veneers. Your orthodontist may have whitening solutions that can help reduce the difference between the spots and your natural teeth color, but if you allow white spots to develop, it will more than likely take drastic measures to remove them. This is why dental care is so important when you have braces.
There are also some treatments that can be done by your orthodontist to help restore your smile to its regular shade. Usually, a combination of these methods will be attempted before it is recommended that your braces be removed early. The beginning signs of decalcification are not the end of the world, but they are a sign that you need to be more vigilant in your tooth care.
If the damage progresses and becomes too bad, then your orthodontist may recommend having your braces removed. However, careful brushing and attention to the matter early can often allow you to keep them for the full treatment duration and enjoy the healthy smile that you wanted.
How Will I Know If My Braces Have Decalcification?
You may ask, how will I know if my braces have decalcification? A competent orthodontist will check for signs of decalcification at each and every visit. Usually, these visits are close enough together that decalcification can be caught before it becomes problematic. However, you can also watch for signs of decalcification and take action immediately if you see them.
The first signs of decalcification are white spots that indicate a mineral loss in the tooth. The white spots are caused when water replaces the leached minerals from the tooth. You have to know that some people are more prone to developing decalcification than others. For instance, some people have enamel that is naturally thick but soft in texture. People with this type of enamel will often develop the signs of decalcification and cavities more easily than those with harder enamel. This is something that you cannot help, but if you have this type of tooth enamel, it is especially important for you to use proper dental care and brush carefully.
Some people are born with white spots on their teeth due to disturbances in mineralization during their development. These are not problematic, and you should only be concerned about any new white spots that develop during the time when you have your braces on. If you have always had the white spot since you were a small child and have had frequent dental checkups, then these are not a concern.
What to Do If I Find White Spots
Examining your teeth for white spots and problems every day when you brush can help you catch any problems before they become too big. If you do find a white spot or any other concern, you should call your orthodontist immediately and schedule an appointment. Handling these problems when they are still small is the best solution.
Decalcification can be a problem whether you have traditional metal brackets on the front of your teeth, lingual braces, or new products such as Invisalign. If you have any concerns, or just want more information about your own situation, your best resource is your orthodontist. They can talk to you about your type of enamel and any special circumstances that you may have. They can also advise you on proper diet and tooth care to prevent white spots and cavities while you still have your braces on, and after you have them removed.
2002 Richard Jones Road
Nashville, TN 37215
Phone: 615 269 5903
[Will the] Orthodontist Remove My Braces Due to Decalcification?
Dr. Joel Gluck has practiced orthodontics since 1983 when he opened his own office in Nashville. He earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, and his dental degree at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Gluck then completed an orthodontic specialty residency at the University of Michigan, one of the top five orthodontic training residencies in the country. He also wrote an original thesis and received a Master of Science degree.