If you’re decided whether to get ceramic braces, know that another simple option is to instead opt for clear aligners, like those offered by Candid or AlignerCo. These invisible braces don’t have bands or brackets, making them easier to keep clear and discrete. Plus, you remove them any time you eat or drink anything but water, so you needn’t worry about avoiding certain foods.
If you do have ceramic braces with clear bands, though, here are the most important things you can do to make sure they stay that way.
A word on clear aligners
As mentioned above, clear aligners are much simpler when it comes to eating and drinking. You simply take them out at each meal and then put them back in when you’re done. However, there are some important things to keep in mind.
First, be sure you thoroughly brush and floss your teeth after every meal. Because of the tight seal between invisible aligners and your teeth, it’s easy for food particles to get stuck there, where they can cause damage, bad breath, and stains.
Second, never eat or drink anything except water with your aligners on. This can damage the aligners, and also cause them to turn yellow. Many of your favorite drinks, like coffee, tea and soda, can stain invisible aligners.
How to keep clear braces bands from turning yellow
For individuals with ceramic braces with clear bands, here’s what you can do to keep them from taking on color:
1. Avoid Stain-Inducing Foods
How do you know which fruits or vegetables are likely to discolor your bands? Start with chemistry. Chemical compounds known as chromogens give food (and drink) its vibrant color, while products rich in tannins and acids are also likely to stain.
In simpler terms, vibrantly colored foods like tomato sauce, curry, beetroot, tannin-rich foods like berries, apricots, and mint, and acidic foods like balsamic vinegar are all known to stain teeth and discolor your orthodontic bands. The best thing to do would be to avoid them altogether, but if the urge is too great, try sipping a glass of water while eating or brushing your teeth immediately after.
2. Use a Straw
Some drinks are also full of tannins. Mant extremely popular beverages like red wine, coffee, and tea are known for causing havoc to pearly white teeth. Again, the obvious answer would again be to avoid beverages like tea, coffee, or Coca-Cola altogether and drink only water. However, life would be pretty dull if we did only that!
Instead, try switching your regular tea or coffee to a decaffeinated variety. The lower the caffeine, the less likely the beverage will stain. Herbal teas like chamomile are also just as good.
Another option is to drink your beverage of choice through a straw. Any staining liquid will bypass your teeth and bands, allowing your ceramic braces to remain discreet while you get rehydrated. You can even get metal or silicone reusable straws to help avoid plastic waste and drink warmer beverages.
3. Improve your Oral Hygiene
Another way to keep clear braces bands from turning yellow is to step up your dental hygiene. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal or when consuming anything but water. The bright red pigment found in sauces (particularly tomato sauce) can cling to teeth and orthodontic bands, causing discoloration quickly.
Brushing and rinsing after meals help minimize the time that stain-inducing foods remain on teeth and bands while keeping the mouth fresh.
If after-meal brushing is not possible, regularly give your mouth a good swish with mouthwash. Rinsing helps eradicate any particles or debris—particularly in areas where brushing and flossing cannot reach.
4. Avoid Smoking
In addition to being bad for your health, smoking is also bad for teeth. Nicotine and tar in tobacco smoke can penetrate the porous tooth enamel and leave behind a yellow/brown discoloration. It also doesn’t take much for discoloration to build up on your clear braces bands.
Therefore, if you are a heavy smoker and you want to prevent your clear braces bands from turning yellow, you should ideally be looking to quit, cut down, or just use smokeless methods to get your nicotine while you have your braces.
5. Maintain Regular Dental Visits
Ideally, people who wear clear braces should be looking to visit their dentist every one to two months throughout treatment. Your dentist should check to ensure that any teeth straightening treatment remains on track and swap out any existing bands for a new set.
Because bands are essential in the movement of teeth that involve fixed braces, it’s vital to replace them often. As a bonus, newly replaced bands are fresh, clean, and hard to see!
As a top tip, the day before your visit might be a good time to indulge in that plate of pasta marinara or that glass of that Rioja you’ve been saving. If your bands become slightly discolored, it doesn’t matter, as they’re getting changed anyway.
6. Embrace Colored Bands
Did you know that you don’t have to opt for white bands? You can also choose off-white tones or even smoky gray. This slight color change shouldn’t affect the overall look of your discreet ceramic braces, as the wires and ceramics will still be white, and it’s harder for staining to appear on colored elastics.
Dentists should stock a wide range of colored bands to accompany your clear fixed appliance, or at least be able to get hold of the color you need, so there shouldn’t be a problem with requesting something slightly more colorful.
7. Avoid Teeth Whitening Products
The first thing you might want to do when you have discolored bands is to reach for the whitening toothpaste. After all, it works on stained teeth, why wouldn’t it work on orthodontic ligatures and ceramic brackets?
In fact, most whitening toothpastes contain commercial baking soda, and while tooth enamel is strong enough to take this abrasion, bands and brackets can quickly become damaged. So, while the ADA recognizes some whitening toothpaste as safe, it also suggests that people with braces should avoid whitening toothpaste for the duration of their treatment.
Other products like whitening strips should also be avoided when wearing braces. While strips can and do work to whiten teeth, and indeed, work when the patient is undergoing clear aligner treatment or lingual (behind the teeth) braces, they won’t work on discolored bands and ceramic brackets that are fastened to the front of the teeth.
Plus, if you try to whiten teeth with whitening strips while wearing fixed braces, the treatment will only change the color of the exposed parts of your teeth and not the ones covered by brackets. Therefore, you may have an uneven “two-tone” tooth color once the braces are removed!
If you don’t have aligner-style braces, the best way to keep your clear braces bands from turning yellow is being careful about what you put in your mouth. While there is no need to change your diet radically, acidic and colorful foods and beverages induce staining, so avoiding them, or rinsing or brushing after eating, can go a long way.
Drinking through a straw where possible, switching brands (particularly caffeine-based products), and even stepping up your oral routine can keep your bands and brackets clear and white. Straightening teeth takes time, dedication, and perseverance. By following these hints and tips, you can feel good about a nice white smile for the duration of your treatment.