Can clear aligners turn my teeth yellow?
This is one question that comes up in the clear aligner community. If you’re just beginning your clear aligner journey or are considering them as an alternative to traditional braces, there are a few things you should know. Though clear aligners like Invisalign are a more convenient way to straighten your teeth than braces, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to take extra care of your teeth. For some people wearing Invisalign or other clear aligners, inadequate oral hygiene can lead to yellowing teeth. This isn't unique to clear aligners, though — braces wearers are at risk for staining too. Thankfully, this is entirely preventable.
Some people think clear aligners protect your teeth from plaque and bacteria since they fit so tight against the teeth, but the opposite is actually true. Clear aligners actually trap bacteria and plaque against the teeth. This is a leading cause of yellowing aligner trays, as well as a cause for stained teeth. Now that we have confirmed this is a possible (and preventable!) risk associated with clear aligner treatment, let’s find out how to easily keep your teeth white and your trays clear throughout the treatment process.
Choose Your Food and Drinks Wisely
Avoid food and drinks that are known to stain teeth
It is widely known that coffee and tea tend to yellow teeth over time.
Eating and drinking becomes a bit more complicated when you straighten your teeth with Invisalign or other clear aligners. There are some foods and drinks you should avoid to prevent discoloration of both your teeth and trays. A good rule of thumb is to not consume too much of anything that will result in teeth staining. So be sure to take it easy on the foods and drinks that can stain teeth:
- Artificially colored juices
- Red wine
- Soy Sauce
- Tomato juice
These are the foods most well known to cause teeth stains, so as long as you steer clear of these foods and drinks in excess, your teeth won’t stain while using clear aligners. A good tip to remember — if the food could stain your clothing, then there is a good chance that it can stain your teeth. Of course, you don’t have to cut these things out completely, but it is a good idea to cut back, especially if you cannot brush your teeth right after indulging.
Look for Toothpaste and Mouthwash that Contains Fluoride
When you brush with fluoride, you decrease the chance of yellow teeth
Choose the fluoride option next time you’re shopping for toothpaste and mouthwash.
Fluoride is proven to decrease tooth discoloration because of food and drink. It is also highly recommended by orthodontists for people straightening their teeth with clear aligners. By brushing and using mouthwash that contains fluoride, you’ll be decreasing your chances of yellowing teeth.
Refrain From Whitening Your Teeth During Treatment
Though it may be tempting to whiten your teeth to prevent discoloration, it is more likely that you will cause accidental discoloration
Avoid any whitening products during your clear aligner treatment.
Though it would be wonderful if you could straighten your teeth and whiten your smile at the same time, this is not always a good idea. When you whiten your teeth or use a whitening toothpaste while wearing clear aligners, your trays can easily get in the way of your teeth whitening process. Your whitening could turn out uneven or you could have a discolored gap at the base of your teeth. While you were trying for a uniform white smile, it is more likely that you’ll get several different shades of white, which is significantly less desirable.
Instead of attempting to whiten all your teeth at once, focus on preventing stains in the first place. If they do occur, you can use an anti-stain teeth whitening pen for spot treatment during one of your daily breaks from wearing your aligners.
Practice Careful Oral Hygiene
The most important way to avoid Invisalign turning your teeth yellow is to stick to the oral care plan given to you by your orthodontist
Talk to your orthodontist about good oral hygiene.
When you start your clear aligner treatment, the most beneficial thing you can do for your teeth is stick to strict hygienic habits. If you brushed your teeth twice a day before, you should have to start brushing 3-4 times per day to make sure no food particles get stuck under your clear aligners — and the same goes for flossing. It’s best to brush and floss your teeth after each snack and meal, before you replace your clear aligners. Having a crumb stuck between your teeth can prevent your teeth from moving where intended, thus extending your treatment time.
Another way you can practice great oral hygiene is by regularly cleaning your clear aligners with Smilesaver®. Smilesaver® is a fast acting Invisalign clear aligner cleaner that kills 99.9% of bacteria in 30 seconds. All it takes is a few sprays on your aligners and they will be fresh and clean for your next use. Additionally, the peroxide-free formula means you don’t have to rinse it off before you put your aligners back in. The best part is that you can take Smilesaver® on-the-go, that way you always have the ability to clean your aligners wherever your smile journey takes you.
Check In at Each Orthodontist Appointment
Your orthodontist will give you a report on your journey and give you tips to improve
Your orthodontist will tell you how to keep your teeth white during treatment.
If you’re concerned about yellowing teeth, have a conversation with your orthodontist at your next appointment. Your orthodontist can give you advice on how to keep your teeth as white and evenly-colored as possible and can assess how you’ve been doing so far. If your orthodontist thinks there are some areas for improvement when it comes to home care — that’s ok! All you need to do is take their advice and you’ll be back on track in no time.
Now that we know a bit more about how to take care of your teeth when using Invisalign or other aligners, you can make sure your teeth stay white throughout your treatment. If you find yourself wondering how to clean your aligners when you’re out of the house, try out Smilesaver®. It's the fastest and easiest way to clean your aligners on the go and kill the bacteria that causes yellowing teeth and stained trays.