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What Is Decalcification & How Can I Prevent It?

With a little extra time and care, you can prevent those little decalcified white spots from forming.

It’s a day everyone in orthodontics dreams of: the exciting time when your braces finally come off! For some, though, thoughts of finally biting into an apple are replaced with concern over small, white marks left on your teeth. What are these spots, and can you prevent them?

These spots are a result of decalcification or areas where bacteria have eaten the enamel. If it were to break through the enamel, you would have a cavity. You can develop these spots anywhere that bacteria and plaque or tartar are allowed to sit on your teeth without being removed.

Plaque is made of bacteria, food particles, and saliva. This bacteria feeds on sugars left behind by improper brushing techniques and not seeing your hygienist for regular cleanings. It eats these sugars and forms an acid that damages teeth and eventually hardens becoming tartar, also called calculus.

There are treatments after-the-fact that can restore your enamel to its original strength and beauty. However, these decalcified spots can be prevented; saving you money and more time in the dental chair.

It’s important to remember that decalcification doesn’t just happen to patients wearing braces. Patients that wear clear aligners are also at risk. In some cases, it can happen more quickly wearing clear aligners, because food and liquid can get trapped in between the aligner and the teeth. Not brushing after eating or drinking soda and flavored waters can quickly cause decalcification if you don’t take out your aligners.

Since decalcification and tooth decay can affect anyone, you should limit sugary foods and drinks and keep up with proper hygiene once your orthodontic treatment is over.

Here are some tips to help prevent decalcification marks on your teeth: 

  • Brush for two minutes after eating or after drinking anything other than plain water.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash daily and don’t eat or drink for at least 30 minutes afterward.
  • Use proxabrushes, floss threaders, and other specialized tools as necessary to make sure your teeth are as clean as possible.
  • Visit your dentist every 4-6 months, depending on their recommendations, for professional cleanings and exams.
  • Limit sugary, acidic, or sticky foods and drinks.

Preventing white marks on your teeth during orthodontic treatment isn’t impossible. It just takes a little extra time to make sure your teeth are extra clean.

By taking a little extra care now, you can enjoy a beautiful, straight, spot-free smile you’ll be proud to show off!

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