After wearing braces for months or years, you expect to unveil a flawless smile. But it does not always work out that way. White scars, technically known as decalcification, are a common after-effect of treatment with orthodontic appliances. Fortunately, the spots are for the most part preventable if you take the right steps while the braces are still on your teeth.
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White scars result from the loss of calcium from the teeth. The calcium attrition comes when tooth enamel interacts with acid. The acid is a byproduct that occurs when bits of food hanging around on the teeth after a meal come into contact with bacteria. This decalcification can occur in anyone who is not practicing adequate dental hygiene. But braces make them more likely, according to Dr. Herbert Hughes of Hughes Orthodontics in Alexandria, Virginia, commenting for the Disney-sponsored parenting website Children Today, because the braces act as a "food trap."
The typical pattern of decalcification is a series of chalky white squares, sometimes called a "picture frame effect," outlining the former location of braces, according to the Cosmetic Dentistry Center, a practice in Houston, Texas. Regardless of whether a patient has had braces, the gumline is another common area for white scars.
Proper oral hygiene while wearing braces can help you avoid white scars, according to the Cosmetic Dentistry Center. Your regimen should include brushing and flossing at least twice each day, particularly after meals. In addition, regular professional cleaning by a dentist or hygienist is important, according to the website of Dr. Jonathan Kim, who leads a dental and orthodontic practice in San Jose, Texas. Kim recommends limiting between-meal snacking and avoiding certain foods, such as sticky or chewy candy.
White scars are a sign that you should take better care of your teeth. Left untreated, decalcification can lead to cavities, according to the Cosmetic Dentristry Center, with the white spots giving way to dark lesions. And the same poor oral hygiene that leads to white scars can also cause other problems, including gingivitis and periodontitis.
If you catch white scars in an early stage, you might be able to reverse them with an intensive oral hygiene routine, according to the Cosmetic Dentistry Center. But sometimes, the marks are permanent. Your best option in that case, according to Children Today, might be to whiten your teeth so that the surrounding areas match the decalcified spots.