I am 13 years old and just got my braces off. Right after they were removed I am seeing chalky white spots on my front eight teeth. I had my teeth cleaned four times a year, and my orthodontist never mentioned this possibility for tooth destruction to me. My dentist wants to do porcelain veneers; is this what you would recommend? Also, I am a teeth grinder, if that makes a difference.
-Ashley in Texas
I wouldn’t recommend porcelain veneers for someone your age for your 8 front teeth. The problem with doing veneers at your age is that your teeth could erupt a little further as you get older, which will reveal the margin of the veneers instead of keeping that margin at the gumline. Plus, the fact that your dentist is suggesting that at your age makes me worry that he or she isn’t expert in placing porcelain veneers. There is a more conservative option for you, which would be direct dental bonding, and I would go to an expert cosmetic dentist for that.
The white spots are decalcification. What happens when you have braces is that the braces catch food every time you eat anything. If you don’t brush it off right away, it sits there and bacteria grow in the food debris and put out acid that attacks your teeth. I’m disappointed that your orthodontist didn’t talk to you about that. When you have braces, you need to be very careful about eating, and your orthodontist should tell you how to avoid this problem. One thing is that when you’re wearing braces you should avoid snacking. Just confine yourself mostly to eating at meals with only occasional snacks, and that will greatly reduce the damage. And then, after you eat, you need to brush right away. When I had my braces, I carried a toothbrush with me so I could do that, and after lunch or a snack I would excuse myself to the bathroom and take care of this. If you’re not able to brush, at least swish vigorously with water to get as much of that food debris off your teeth. Not only does it decalcify your teeth, but it smells bad.
Getting your teeth cleaned four times a year is okay, but it’s no substitute for getting the food out from around your brackets right away.
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