December 12, 2018 Tri Le Whitening teeth is a popular and straightforward procedure and most patients are good candidates. However, there are some restrictions such as pregnancy and nursing, having cavities and having sensitive teeth or gums. Another is while undergoing orthodontic procedures such as wearing braces or Invisalign although treatment may be possible in certain scenarios. We do not recommend whitening while wearing braces, in most situations. Invisalign does provide possibilities to whiten your teeth. However, for those who want to ensure their teeth look good and remain healthy, it is always important to speak to your dentist about the process. Reasons to Whiten Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment Whitening teeth during orthodontic treatment such as braces or Invisalign may seem like a good thing. After all, most of these treatments take between 12 and 16 months to complete. During that time, our teeth may have several stains or develop a yellow look to them. If your teeth were not properly cleaned and whitened before getting braces, that can make them even less bright while undergoing treatment. Whitening Teeth with Metal or Ceramic Braces For those who have metal or ceramic braces, the biggest concern with whitening teeth comes down to location. If you have braces just along the back of your teeth, you can generally whiten the front teeth. This is significantly harder and less effective if you have braces on the front. Whether braces are attached at the front or back of the teeth, a key concern has to do with positioning. Braces shift the position of the teeth slowly. Consequently, any whitening treatment you use during this process will not reach all areas of the teeth. Over time, you may develop areas of different shades on the same tooth as a result. Whitening Toothpaste with Braces The use of whitening toothpastes may be troublesome to some people with braces. Some of these toothpastes do not contain any actual components in them that change the color of the tooth’s enamel. Rather, they work to remove surface stains from the tooth. If you brush with these, it may be safe to use to prevent stains. However, they do not work to remove any stains embedded in the enamel already. Also, if you have ceramic brackets, speak to your dentist before using any type of whitening toothpaste. These whitening products may contain abrasive components that can scratch the ceramic material. This leaves it more susceptible to staining. Whitening In-Office with Braces Though the best way to get tooth whitening is in an office setting, there are still limitations to the process. When you come in for whitening treatment – any type – only the areas exposed to the bleaching agents will change color. In short, when you apply a whitening gel, enamel that touches it will change color and brighten. However, any areas covered by braces will not, creating a spotted result. After removal of the braces, then, you will need a follow-up treatment to impact these areas. It’s important to note that even follow-up treatment may not be able to create a fully uniform look. Whitening at Home with Braces The same results occur when using whitening strips or a whitening kit at home. Only the areas exposed to the gel will change color, creating uneven coloring of your teeth. In addition, at-home whitening kits are not designed to work over braces and retainers. As with in-office products, the use of these products can cause discomfort and sensitivity changes. It is most often best to wait to brighten your smile. Whitening Teeth with Invisalign Whitening your teeth with Invisalign is also a consideration. Read on to discover your options. Whitening Toothpaste with Invisalign The use of whitening toothpaste with Invisalign may be an acceptable option. Some people see better results during treatment than after due to the fluoride and the whitening substances in the toothpaste being held in place against the teeth longer (due to the aligner’s presence). Whitening In-Office & At-Home with Invisalign It may be possible to get some in-office whitening solutions for those who have Invisalign. A good time to consider whitening is towards the end of the Invisalign treatment. At this stage you may be recommended by your dentist to use at-home whitening gels. This can help create a cleaner smile when your treatment is over. Whitening Teeth Before Orthodontic Treatment Post-braces and/or post-Invisalign treatment of your teeth is the best way to get results. It works quickly and effectively. However, you may want to consider whitening prior to these applications as well. Again, tooth alignment can limit the spread of the product across the teeth which, when the orthodontic treatment is complete, creates discoloration. For this reason, it is always best to wait until you’ve completed Invisalign treatment or had your braces off. Whitening Teeth Once You’ve Finished with Braces or Invisalign The best and most effective option is to wait until you have completed your orthodontic treatment. It works fast and creates the best long-term benefit to you. Tri LeA practicing dentist since 1987, Dr. Le has been running successful dental practices in Texas with his wife Ann since 1990. A member of the ADA, AACD and AADSM, Dr. Le has also contributed to several leading dental journals.