Stained braces are a common problem for many orthodontic patients. It ruins the otherwise already devastated appearance of the individual, can be a harbour for bacteria that cause tooth decay, and can contribute to the malfunctioning of the actual braces themselves.
Common dental braces staining agents
Coffee and tea have to be the most common staining agents in the world. Not only do they discolour your tooth enamel, they also stain your braces and pretty much everything else they come in contact with; coffee can be used as brown paint because of the super high levels of tannin that are in it. Tea also has a lot of tannin, and will stain your braces if it comes into contact with the delicious substance frequently. Next on the list is smoking. Nicotine and tar deposits will show up on your braces as nasty brown stains, much like on finger nails or wallpaper. Red fruits and berries, as well as red wine and chocolate are also rich in tannins, and will stain brackets and wires as well.
When getting orthodontic treatment, it is best if you quit smoking altogether. Your teeth are compromised when in braces, and smoking or chewing tobacco only compromises them further, and they also stain braces. Chewing nicorette may not be an option for most braces, so try and get a patch, or better yet start cutting down and then quitting altogether.
Turmeric, that delicious and indispensable spice that gives indian food its delicious flavor stains everything it comes into contact with a shade of curious yellow. It will stain ceramic braces and ligatures, and after brushing and trying to clean the stain off, you will just get a lighter and lighter shade of yellow and then teal. Blue ligatures will turn a most appalling green from turmeric.
Red wine, berries, tomato paste, red candies, all of these things stain teeth and brackets. For some reason we notice the color red, and even if there is just a touch of it on something, we will notice. Perhaps this is why all red foods and drinks, particularly ones with artificial red food coloring (which stains everything like crazy), are on the off list until further notice.
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate
Although having a cuppa every now and then will have no effect (if you make sure to rinse right after it), regular consumption of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate will eventually stain your braces. This is a most cruel fact, especially in the heart of winter, but a fact it is none the less. Curb your coffee and tea consumption, you do not have to forego these wonderful things altogether.
How to remove stains off your orthodontic braces
The best way to remove stains is with mouthwash. Get alcohol free mouthwash and gargle with it 3 times a day, making sure to keep it in your mouth for at least 2 minutes at a time. This should be able to break up most stains, but not all of them. If you are serious about removing them, use a bit of sodium bicarbonate and apply it to a toothbrush. The granules should help in removing stains, but be careful not to scrub too hard, or you can end up hurting your enamel.
What NOT to use on your dental braces
Although the internet swears by it, citric acid or lemon juice cannot be used to remove stains. They may remove them, but they will also eat up your tooth enamel. This goes for all kinds of acid, regardless of how weak. The best policy is to talk to your orthodontist first, as s/he may have a good solution to your problem, and may even clean the stain off him or herself.