As an adult, I chose to get clear braces to try and alleviate some of the visual impact of having my teeth straightened. I’m happy with how they look, but have found that clear braces can yellow.
If you are known worried about yours, it’s not the end of the world! I’ve actually found that over time that yellowing isn’t actually a negative point. Read on for why I think this, and my top tips if you’re worried or want to try and fix any staining of your clear braces.
This article is specifically about clear braces, but orthodontic retainers like Invisalign and others can stain. We’ll cover that in a different article – though much of the advice on stopping and removing the staining is similar.
Do Clear Braces Turn Yellow?
Ceramic and clear braces are very resistant to staining and will mostly remain the same color throughout your treatment. But they will slightly yellow over time. It does depend on the brand, type of braces used, and largely due to what you eat and drink.
However, clear braces really don’t yellow that much at all. I’ve attached pictures of my own braces – which are Damon ceramic/clear on the top row. At 18 months in, I had two of the brackets replaced to slightly reposition to top teeth before I got them off.
I’ve highlighted the picture in the header to show two brackets that have been on for 18 months on the left, with two day old brackets on the right. When shown up close, you can see a clear difference.
Clear Braces Staining Issues
There are a few things to point out here that I think need to be taken into account. We’re all here to improve the look of our teeth, especially as we’ve chosen clear braces. However, I don’t think this staining is really much of an issue.
My teeth aren’t particularly white, but they also aren’t really yellow compared to average. When most people get ceramic or clear braces, you’ll probably find that the braces are actually whiter than your teeth. This can give an overall whiter look to your smile to start with.
It can also highlight how much yellower your teeth are than the super bright braces. If actually found that the clear braces have yellowed to nearly match my natural tooth color and as a result, blend in a little more.
The main body of the ceramic braces hasn’t actually yellowed that much. The bigger issue I find is that inside the body of the bracket, food and hot drinks (especially coffee…) can get into the bracket. Take a look below…
Food Stuck In Clear Brace Bracket
Here I’ve highlighted the older bracket on the left and a new one on the right. I have found that when eating and drinking – especially when biting into foods – that some debris can be left inside the crevices of the bracket.
I can notice (though I’m not sure others do) that there is a slightly yellower look on the middle of the sides of each bracket. I only really noticed this about a full year into having my braces on.
Read more about avoiding biting foods with braces
Why Do Clear and Ceramic Braces Stain?
I shouldn’t really be biting into things with my front teeth, but when it’s softer food it isn’t too bad. Those food particles are what cause that inside staining. What I’ve done to help this is to use my water flosser on a lower setting, pointed into the sides of the brackets to try and flush anything out.
I’ve also paid a bit more attention to brushing after eating. When I have appointments to get my braces adjusted I also ask my orthodontist to use a tool to clean them out while they’re open, and these all help.
Most types of “invisible” braces – whether they are one of the Damon clear or ceramic, 3M Calirty, Radiance Clear, InVu tooth-colored, or others – will have some very light staining over time.
Clear Braces Bands Staining
The biggest cause of a yellow look with clear braces isn’t the actual braces brackets themselves, but the rubbers and power chains. With my braces, I actually don’t have little rubber bands on each tooth holding the bracket on.
My Damon Clear braces are what’s known as self-ligating. That means the brackets attach to the braces by themselves – they open and close very easily with a tool the ortho uses.
Some types of clear braces come with rubber bands like traditional braces. Many providers will then give you clear or very pale white “pearl” colored bands to match your teeth. These are much easier to stain, just like traditional braces.
The same goes for power chains. I have been wearing power chains on the top and bottom for most of my treatment past 6 months. These close gaps and stop gaps from reappearing once closed. Mostly I have clear ones ( you can see in the photos) and something have grey/silver ones.
The clear ones do stain and go yellow slowly, but not a lot. However, if I eat anything with food coloring in – red pasta sauces and curries – they’ll go yellow pretty fast. Turmeric is the worst.
Read more about staining foods to avoid with braces
How To Avoid Yellowing With Clear Braces
The simplest ways to avoid yellowing are the standard ones we’ve talked about in other articles
- Avoid staining drinks like coffee, tea, red wine, and soda. If you must have these, have milk in your hot drinks, and use a reusable straw for everything.
- Don’t bite into things with your front teeth to avoid debris in the brackets
- Don’t eat anything with food coloring or lots of tomato paste in them. Chili, curry, and red velvet cake are all foods to watch out for
- Brush your teeth first thing in the morning before eating breakfast, last thing at night before bed, and after eating. Don’t skip these. Rinse, use a flosser, and use mouthwash if you can’t in the daytime.
- Get yourself a good electric toothbrush. They make a massive difference in brushing properly.
- No more drinking tea before bed if you’ve already brushed. Sorry fellow brits…
Fixing Yellowing In Clear Braces
The steps to fix yellowing depend on what has been yellowed. Take a look: –
- If your bands have yellowed, brush thoroughly but softly with a whitening toothpaste.
- You can also put a little bit of baking soda into a bowl, wet it slightly, then use a toothbrush to softly brush against the rubber bands or brackets. Baking soda is bicarbonate of soda (the same thing) and is safe to use on teeth.
- You can buy specific baking soda toothpaste but most whitening kinds of toothpaste will do a better job
- If you’ve got debris inside the bracket you can use an electric toothbrush, interdental brushes, and a water flosser to try and get a bit of it out.