Ceramic braces are far less visible than full metal. The orthodontist bonds a clear ceramic bracket to the tooth surface and attaches ligatures (tiny rubber bands) to thin metal archwires to realign the teeth. The ceramic brackets themselves resist picking up color from food or drink, but the bonding glue and the rubber bands that connect the braces will turn color if you’re not careful. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to minimize or remove unattractive staining and keep the braces less noticeable.
Collaborate with Your Orthodontist to Avoid Stains
Talk to your orthodontist about keeping the braces colorless. The bonding material will stain over time so have the orthodontist remove the excess bonding glue from around the brackets when they are first attached. The orthodontist will most likely advise you to edit what you eat. Tomato sauce, curry, cola drinks, teas, coffee, red wine, and some fruit drinks or dark berries will discolor ligatures or cause staining around the brackets. Remember the ligatures are changed at your regular monthly appointments so any staining will disappear before it can become too noticeable.
Pick a Ligature Color to Hide Stains
Selecting a colored ligature will minimize staining. The tiny rubber bands quickly pick up color, but some show stains less than others. Clear ligatures give the most natural appearance but stain most easily. Pearlescent or tooth-colored ligatures are next on the easily stained list but will not show as much color as clear ligatures. Pastel colors show even less staining and dark ligatures, for instance, grays or black will not show stains. The dark rubber bands make the braces more obvious though, so that may influence your choice of colors.
Good Hygiene Means Clear and Clean
Brush your teeth after every meal, being careful to get the back of the teeth and the areas around the brackets where food particles can get stuck. Removing all traces of food and drink will help minimize staining. Use non-whitening toothpaste so the tooth surface under the brackets will not be a different color when the braces are removed. (If you notice any discoloration around the brackets, you can use a whitening paste on that area to remove any stains until your next orthodontist appointment.) Flossing removes the sticky bits that braces trap and can cause staining so floss several times a day and rinse with mouthwash to remove any residue from food or drink.
The Big Guns--When the Brackets Stain
The ceramic brackets are almost stain-proof but can get dulled or even darkened by things like espresso and red wine. To restore them from dingy to clear, drink lemon water after you drink beverages that tend to stain. Use an electric toothbrush and let it rest on each tooth (and bracket) for three to five seconds when brushing. Ask your orthodontist about using Prophy-Jet, an air polishing device that sprays a baking soda paste on the ceramic bracket and bonding glue to gently grind off discolorations.