It's Often Not the Braces

Your teeth can become stained during orthodontic treatment for several reasons. Traditional braces have a complex design of brackets and wires that can trap food, leading to a build-up of bacteria that causes plaque to form. Therefore, it's not the actual braces that cause these stains but the biofilm that forms in hard-to-reach crevices.

Having braces make it difficult to remove this plaque, allowing it to create acids that strip the minerals from your enamel. This demineralization changes the way the tooth surface reflects the light, resulting in the development of those tiny white spots in the areas that are difficult to reach.

Plaque also increases your risk for tooth decay and gum disease while the braces are on. Prevent these issues with a healthy oral care routine for braces. Gently brushing your teeth to avoid damaging the brackets and flossing with an orthodontic floss threader are effective ways to keep your mouth healthy and prevent stained teeth from braces. You can also try daily rinsing with an orthodontist-approved mouthwash specially formulated to protect your teeth while wearing braces, like Colgate® Ortho Defense® Phos-Flur Mint.

The bonding material used to attach orthodontic brackets to teeth can become discolored over time from exposure to tooth-staining foods and beverages, but this material will be removed when the brackets come off. Preventive measures are best for avoiding stained teeth from braces.

How to Prevent Teeth Stained From Braces

It's essential to practice good dental hygiene at all times, but when you're wearing braces, the complete removal of plaque/biofilm is tough to do. Your best defense against stained teeth from braces should include the following steps:

  1. Limit certain foods and drinks in your diet, such as sugary or starchy items, high acid fruit drinks, and sodas. If you are away from home and can't brush your teeth right away after eating or drinking these foods and beverages, rinse your mouth with water to help neutralize plaque acids.

  2. Brush and floss after every meal. Water flossers are also helpful tools to clean around braces. To make this easier to manage, it is recommended to eat three meals a day, avoid between-meal snacks, and choose tooth-friendly snacks.

  3. Choose a whitening toothpaste that contains stannous fluoride, which will also help reduce plaque build-up.

  4. Wait 60 minutes after eating to brush your teeth, as this gives your enamel time to re-harden and your saliva time to wash away the acids left by the food.

  5. Regular dental cleanings help remove tartar that you can't eliminate with daily brushing and flossing.

For patients who find they are particularly prone to plaque developing on the biting surfaces of teeth, sealants might help to prevent stained teeth from braces. Talk to your orthodontist to see if this would be practical for you.

Can You Fix Stained Teeth From Braces?

So what if, despite your best efforts, you’ve had your braces removed and found stains underneath? Don’t panic!  

A dental cleaning should be able to remove any plaque or surface food and drink stains that have built up while you’ve been wearing braces, which will improve the color of your teeth. If you have more advanced staining, you may benefit from an additional whitening option like: 

  • Whitening toothpaste

  • Whitening mouthwash

  • Whitening pens

  • Whitening strips

  • LED devices

  • Gel trays 

  • In-office laser whitening

If you have white marks on your teeth, they may be harder to deal with. A whitening treatment may help in moderate cases, and a remineralizing toothpaste may also help to restore some of the lost minerals.  

If white patches or other brace stains don’t respond to these treatments, your dentist may recommend restorative or cosmetic options. They might include:  

  • Composite restorations. A small area of discoloration is removed from the tooth and replaced with a composite material the same color as the tooth. 

  • Veneers. More suitable for larger areas of staining, veneers are very thin, tooth-colored shells that are bonded over the tooth’s surface. 

  • Microabrasion. Small areas of discoloration are “buffed” out of the tooth enamel, removing stains or spots from the surface. 

 While they can be costly, these treatments can be very effective at restoring the natural color and appearance of your teeth when other treatments have failed. If you have any concerns about stained teeth from braces, be sure to discuss your options with your dentist.  


This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.


What's behind your smile?

Take our Oral Health assessment to get the most from your oral care routine


2.3 billion

people worldwide suffer from tooth decay


What's behind your smile?

Take our Oral Health assessment to get the most from your oral care routine


2.3 billion

people worldwide suffer from tooth decay