How Do I Avoid Staining My Braces?

Staining occurs when slightly porous materials come in sustained contact with pigmented solutions.  Good examples of pigmented liquids include purple grape juice, red wine, and brown tea.  Other examples might be a red throat lozenge that is slowly dissolved, turning it into a liquid that can flow over the teeth, or red spaghetti sauce.

We are assuming you are concerned about potential staining at your front teeth and your front braces.  The materials used in orthodontics have varying porosities.  Metal braces cannot be stained and neither can ceramic clear brackets that still have their smooth factory finish.  

The plastic adhesive that is used to attach the brackets to the teeth is only exposed to colored liquids around (and behind) the edge of the bracket.  The plastic that is under the bracket is sealed and retains its original creamy color.  These plastics can’t be polished to a high sheen so they could, with prolonged exposure to colored liquids, end up with a slight stain.  If you have metal brackets, some stain wouldn’t be noticeable because it would be adjacent to the silver.  If you have clear ceramic brackets, it could look like a very thin line around the edge.  Fortunately, that thin line is usually covered by the elastic ties (look like tiny rubber bands) which hold the wires into the bracket slots.

So far, so good.  The odds of staining your brackets and plastic adhesive are minimal.

But the elastic ties are also porous. If you choose colored ties, most staining goes unnoticed.  For example, medium green may slowly shift to dark green.  If you choose clear ties, yellowing occurs even if you avoid pigmented foods.  So a better choice might be opaque ivory ties if you want to maintain a “barely there” braces look.  Fortunately, these elastic ties are changed every four to six weeks.

Our advice if you want to minimize staining?  Reduce your consumption of colored liquids or drink them with a straw.  Rinse your mouth with water immediately after eating pizza, salsa, blueberries and other foods with strong pigments.  If this is ever an issue for you because you are having your Senior Portrait or wedding photos taken, please give us a call.  We don’t mind putting on new elastic ties for special events.