Why Teeth Feel Rough After Braces: A Quick Explanation

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Getting your braces off is an exciting milestone, but sometimes, it takes a little getting used to. It’s not uncommon for many patients to notice a rough texture on their teeth after having braces removed. This sensation can be puzzling and lead to questions about the causes and remedies, so let’s explore the reasons behind it.

The rough feeling you may get post-braces is often due to the remnants of braces glue on your teeth, or the roughening effect of bonding agents on the teeth’s enamel. You may notice the same sensation in areas where you have dental fillings. Fortunately, there’s a quick fix to this, as you’ll soon find out.

Teeth Feel Rough after Braces

There are four reasons why your teeth may feel rough after having your braces off:

1. Enamel demineralization

The main reason I find teeth become rough and matte after braces is enamel demineralization. This occurs from the use of etch (a type of blue-colored acid) when bonding the braces to your teeth. After the glue is removed, those areas on your teeth can feel a bit rough.

You see, the only way to make fillings, dental jewlery and braces stick to teeth is by using chemicals that create pores inside the enamel and make it loose its smoothness in the process.

Fortunately, your enamel will gain back its minerals as soon as it’s in contact with saliva, and slowly build back its structure. In the meantime, it might feel rough and matte for a few weeks.

Etching gel used for bonding brackets

2. Accumulation of plaque and tartar

Another reason for perceived roughness could be the accumulation of plaque or tartar during the time you had your braces on. It’s normal for certain areas that were hard to clean to become covered in tartar and dental plaque.

Usually this happens on the inside of the teeth, or on your back molars, especially if you had molar bands. If your gums were swollen at the time of debond, your orthodontist may not have had access to those areas, and you’ll need another appointment to complete the cleaning and polishing.

3. Excess glue on your teeth

It’s not uncommon for some patients to feel like there’s still some glue left on their teeth. Orthodontists and orthodontic assistants do their best to remove all the glue, but depending on the brand, this can be a difficult task.

This is because braces glue is tooth colored and indistinguishable from the tooth’s enamel. The only way we can spot it is by thoroughly drying the teeth. I like to use braces glue that’s visible under UV light to make sure there’s no excess left on the enamel.

Excess braces glue is a quick fix. If you notice cement on your teeth, don’t be afraid to ask your orthodontist for another quick cleaning session. A dental hygienist is the second best option, however, orthodontists have the proper tools for removing glue and polishing and buffing your enamel so it feels smooth and shiny.

4. Improper glue removal

Lastly, if your teeth are feeling rough after taking braces off, it may have something to do with the tools your orthodontist used. Glue can be quite stubborn to remove, and we often have to do it in layers, by using a fine rotating bur which acts like a sandpaper.

This bur has to be very fine, sharp, and used at low speed. If a coarser bur is used, it can lead to a roughening of the enamel’s surface and damaging its superficial layer that give it it’s shine.

If you feel like this has happened to you, go to your dentist to check the state of your enamel. Fortunately, there are ways they can polish the enamel to make it feel smooth again.

To prevent this issue, your orthodontist will likely follow a few steps:

  1. Remove the braces with a special plier
  2. Use an adequate bur to remove the glue residue left on your teeth
  3. Clean your teeth of any plaque or tartar build-up with a rotating brush
  4. Polish your enamel so it becomes smooth and shiny again

By following these steps, your orthodontist will be able to restore your teeth to their pre-braces smoothness. Taking care of your teeth at home post-braces is just as important for your enamel to regain its strength and shine, so be sure to implement a good oral hygiene regimen.

Fluoride-based products and mouthwash, as well as choosing a powerful electric brush are paramount for keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Teeth Not Shiny after Braces

Roughness is the sensation most patients have after having their braces removed. But depending on the structure of their enamel, some people may complain of dull, matte teeth after braces. So what makes teeth lose their shine?

Let’s get the basics out of the way: plaque accumulation, smoking, and drinking fizzy drinks can all take a toll on your smile’s appearance. During the braces removal process, your orthodontist will thoroughly clean and polish your teeth, but that will only address the outer plaque and stains on the enamel.

If your teeth still aren’t shiny, it could be due to two reasons: the effect of the braces glue on your teeth or not brushing properly.

As we discussed in the previous section, your orthodontist can help restore shine by using various polishing burs, from coarse to very fine. This will buff up the enamel’s surface and make it smooth and sparkling.

Once you get home, you’ll need to maintain this effect by using a correct brushing technique and a special type of brush that has a rubber component in it. The rubber acts like a polishing bur similar to what we use professionally in the dentist’s office. Here’s an example of a brush head you can use:

If you notice that your teeth have a splotchy appearance after braces removal, you might be dealing with white-spot lesions caused by poor brushing techniques and/or keeping your braces on for too long. These bracket-shaped chalk-white areas indicate that your oral hygiene wasn’t quite on-point during your orthodontic treatment.

Think of white-spot lesions as the precursor to cavities. Your damaged enamel will recover now that you’ll properly brush your teeth, but the splotchy appearance may not entirely go away, just like scars remain after an old wound.

Teeth Scratched after Braces

Teeth can sometimes feel rough or scratched after braces, and there are a few reasons for this. When your orthodontist removes the braces, they also have to remove the glue that held the brackets in place. This process can sometimes cause small scratches on the surface of your teeth, especially if a manual instrument is used or if the bur is dull and not sharp enough.

These scratches are usually very small and almost invisible, especially when your teeth are coated by saliva. However, when the teeth are dry, you might notice them. In most cases, these scratches are superficial and will not cause any long-term problems. Still, it’s always a good idea to have your dentist check them out to ensure that there’s no significant damage.

If you notice a larger scratch or something that resembles a crack, make sure to bring it to your dentist’s attention right away. It’s important to differentiate between a superficial scratch and a deeper fracture in the enamel.

Superficial fractures might be due to the process of removing the glue from your braces or minor wear and tear on your teeth over time. On the other hand, deeper fractures could be the result of an underlying issue that needs attention.

While noticeable cracks in your enamel won’t heal, as long as they’re superficial, your teeth will still remain healthy. Be sure to avoid biting too hard into foods, as well as alternating between hot and cold foods, which can sometimes lead to these type of cracks (coffee and ice-cream are not a good combination for this reason).

Smooth vs. rough areas on teeth

Can You Restore Your Tooth Enamel

While you can’t build enamel back once it’s been lost to erosion or mechanical forces, there are many ways in which enamel can regain its shine and fresh appearance. Our enamel may seem hard, but it contains a multitude of microscopic pores which are constantly permeated by minerals from our saliva.

This process of healing from within is called remineralization. Here’s how to encourage it:

First, consider scheduling a professional cleaning and “buffing” session with your dentist or oral hygienist. They will remove plaque, tartar, and any remaining cement from your tooth surfaces, and smoothen everything with a rubber bur, helping to restore the shine and smoothness of your teeth.

Now, let’s focus on the rebuilding process. It’s important to note that you cannot build new enamel, but you can restore and strengthen what’s already there. To do this, maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine, including brushing twice daily, flossing regularly, and using mouthwash to keep your mouth clean and prevent further plaque and tartar buildup.

In addition to regular oral care, using fluoride-based products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash, can help remineralize and strengthen your enamel. Fluoride is a controversial ingredient, but it has proven benefits for your teeth. When it comes to enamel restoration, fluoride converts hydroxyapatite (a key component of tooth enamel) into fluorapatite, a stronger and more resistant mineral, to protect against acid erosion and decay.

Keep an eye on your diet as well; try avoiding acidic foods and drinks that can etch and weaken the enamel on your teeth. Consume a balanced diet with plenty of calcium and phosphate-rich foods, which can aid in the remineralization process.

The enamel can also get weakened by too many whitening products that strip its superficial layers over time. It’s best to leave whitening to professionals, or if you do it at home, don’t exceed the recommended dosage and leave enough time in between sessions for your enamel to recover.

Lastly, if you have concerns about the appearance of your teeth after braces, consider a consultation with a cosmetic dentist. If nothing else works, perhaps it’s time to get veneers or add some composite to the trouble areas.


The roughness of your teeth may simply be a temporary side effect of having worn braces. Your teeth and mouth have been through a significant change, and it might take some time for them to adjust and smooth out. Give your teeth a few weeks to settle down and, in most cases, they will return to their normal smoothness.

If your teeth don’t go back to normal in the first month, don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns with your orthodontist. What you’re feeling is quite common, and if excess glue or white-spot lesions, the issue won’t go away on its own, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

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  1. My otothodontist removed my braces so fast and sanded the glue more than needed, now 4 of my teeth are very thin. I am very upset! Can this be fixed???

    1. Adriana Sim, DMD Orthodontist says:

      Are you saying that he/she removed enamel from your teeth? That rarely happens, and there’s a long way to thin teeth, most doctors are very careful not to harm the enamel. But if that truly happened to you, I’m sorry. You can only fix it with bonding or veneers.

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