Clear ceramic braces are becoming more and more popular as patients move away from the “mouthful of metal” look of the past. But clear braces have a disadvantage because they can stain over time if not treated properly.  

Larson Orthodontics offers clear braces as one of many treatment options for its patients. Our 3M Clarity Braces are a popular option for patients who want something more subtle than traditional metal braces. These braces are made to blend in with the natural color of your teeth, so they’re harder to see. That is, as long as you keep them stain-free. That isn’t always easy.

Clear Braces vs. Clear Aligners

When you hear the term “clear braces,” you may think of clear aligners and vice versa. The terms can be confusing because some people tend to interchange them, even though they are two different things. Let’s clear things up.

Clear braces resemble regular braces in that they use brackets and wires to move your teeth into their proper positions. Clear braces use ceramic brackets instead of metal ones. The smaller brackets better match the color of your teeth, making them more difficult to see. They’re a popular option for adults and teenagers who want less visibility in their braces. 

Clear aligners are acrylic trays from brands such as Spark or Invisalign that are custom-molded to match the shape of your teeth. These trays are made to resemble your teeth and slide over them. Unlike braces, clear aligners are removable. While this is an advantage when it comes to eating, brushing, and flossing, it’s a disadvantage in that they are easier to lose or damage. Patients also may forget to wear clear aligners for the minimum 22 hours a day required, which could delay treatment times. 

Can I Stain My Clear Braces?

Do clear braces stain easily? Today’s clear braces don’t stain easily, but they can stain. As technology has improved, so has the ability of clear braces to resist stains. That’s good news for you. However, it doesn’t mean they can’t stain at all. Repeated use of colored food and drinks such as coffee, tea, fruit juices, tomato sauces, sodas, and fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries can lead to stains eventually. Occasional enjoyment of these foods and drinks shouldn’t affect your braces, especially if you brush immediately after eating or drinking. 

What can stain are the elastic bands that are used to hold the archwire to the brackets. These elastic bands can be clear or white to make your braces less visible. Those elastics can stain and discolor, making them more visible before changing them out about every six weeks. That is, assuming you didn’t choose a fun, bold color to use instead. Even so, you may find the elastics discolor over time. That’s one of several reasons why keeping your regular orthodontic appointments is important. We will change those bands to new ones that are stain-free. 

Patient Candids Larson Orthodontics Alexandria Virginia 2021 147 - Help! How Do I Keep Stains Off My Clear Braces?

How to Prevent Ceramic Braces From Staining

Now that you know what stains ceramic braces, you know what to avoid to keep your braces in pristine condition. But there’s more to keeping your braces stain-free than just avoiding that fourth cup of coffee. There are other ways to stain your braces, which means there are other ways to avoid stains. 

Brush and Floss Right Away

One of the best things you can do to avoid staining your clear braces is to brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking, particularly dark foods or liquids. The longer those colors are on your teeth, the better chance they have to stain. Brushing may not always be possible. In those cases, try rinsing your mouth with clear water right away to eliminate as much staining color as possible. 

Avoid Foods That Stain

Coffee, tea, fruit juices, sodas, dark-colored fruits, wine, chocolate, tomato sauces, and other foods and drinks can stain your clear ceramic braces. We know it may be hard to avoid some of these. We get it! Just keep in mind it’s all temporary, and it will be worth it when you see your gorgeous new smile! 

Deep-Colored Spices Can Stain, Too

We all love great flavors in our food, but some spices can stain your clear braces. These include turmeric, curry powders, saffron, chili powders, and other deep-colored spices. Food coloring can also stain your clear braces. Even mouthwash colored blue, red, or green can stain over time. Avoid these if you can, but brush as soon as possible if you can’t. 

Ditch the Tobacco! 

It’s no secret that smoking stains your teeth. It also stains your clear ceramic braces. Smoking is a big stain producer, but vaping and chewing tobacco can cause damage, too. The chemicals in these products will cause your teeth and braces to turn yellow over time. They also can cause more serious issues, such as gum disease and mouth cancers. Quitting tobacco can help with your smile as well as your overall health. There are many products and programs available to help you quit. Speak to us or your doctor if you’d like more information.

Patient Candids Larson Orthodontics Alexandria Virginia 2021 125 - Help! How Do I Keep Stains Off My Clear Braces?

Clear Braces in Alexandria, VA

Staining your elastics pretty quickly is possible, but your clear ceramic braces should hold up well against most stains. You can take steps to ensure your clear braces stay clear during the months you will wear them. After that, you’ll be able to return to enjoying those drinks, foods, and spices you love. 

Are clear braces right for you? Larson Orthodontics can help you decide! If you’re in the Alexandria, VA, area, you can start by scheduling an in-office consultation with us. We’ll have a general idea of your needs before we bring you in for a complete evaluation. From there, we’ll be able to tell you whether clear braces are right for you or whether other options would suit your needs better. 

A beautiful smile can only be a few months away! 

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