Decalcification is a technical term to describe how a loss of calcium can cause your teeth to get white, chalky marks on them. This is a common side effect of wearing braces, though many patients are shocked to see these marks after their braces have been removed.
Importantly, decalcification is not caused by braces, and it can be prevented at all stages of your treatment. Continue reading to learn what decalcification is, how it can be prevented, and what you can do about it if you notice it when your braces come off.
Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.
What is Decalcification?
Decalcification means a loss of calcium, which is the main building block of your tooth enamel. This can occur for many reasons, most due to poor oral hygiene caused by diet and brushing habits.
Once it has occurred, decalcification causes teeth to have white streaks or patterns that are chalky in texture. It means that your teeth are wearing down. If left untreated, decalcification can make your teeth vulnerable to diseases and even decay.
What is the Connection Between Decalcification and Braces?
Many patients are shocked to see that their teeth show signs of decalcification when their braces are removed. These marks are often mistaken for markings left by the braces themselves, but braces do not cause decalcification.
The reason this condition often coincides with braces is that it’s more difficult to maintain good oral hygiene during your treatment. Normal routines of brushing and flossing can be impeded by your brackets and wires, allowing food and drink debris to be trapped behind your braces and hurt your teeth. Maintaining good hygiene is therefore even more important during your treatment than it is normally.
Causes of Decalcification
Decalcification occurs when any substance that can wear away tooth enamel is left on the tooth’s surface for too long. Since we put so many acids in our mouth every day, including those from sugary drinks like soda, our teeth are constantly in danger of being damaged by these corrosive forces.
This means that the main culprits behind decalcification include:
- Drinking too much soda or other acidic carbonated beverages
- Eating too much sugar
- Not brushing at least two times per day
- Not flossing at least once per day
- Not brushing for long enough (orthodontists recommend at least two minutes at a time)
Importantly, these factors cause decalcification regardless of whether the user wears braces. Braces just make it easier for sugars to get trapped against your teeth for longer, increasing the risk of decalcification.
How to Prevent Decalcification After Braces
The best treatment method for decalcification is to prevent it from happening in the first place since your tooth enamel can’t be easily restored once it’s lost or damaged.
This includes reversing the above risk factors into an oral hygiene schedule that includes brushing at least twice a day (preferably after each meal), brushing for at least two minutes, and flossing at least once a day. You can also alter your diet to include fewer sugars.
Maintaining regular dental care is another great way to prevent decalcification, including regular dental cleanings every six months and using toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride is a compound that helps protect your enamel from the wear and tear of daily use, potentially preventing decalcification.
How to Treat Decalcification
If you notice the signs of decalcification, you may wonder what treatments are available. In most cases, decalcification is irreversible since your tooth enamel cannot be easily restored. However, treatment options do exist.
Remineralization is the process of restoring and strengthening tooth enamel, and it can be accomplished through some dental procedures (though they have inconsistent rates of success). Regular cleanings, regular use of fluoride, and regular brushing are still the first lines of defense against allowing decalcification to happen in the first place.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.