Teeth Staining With Invisalign - Causes and Prevention

Young smiling woman holding invisalign braces

Invisalign is an orthodontic treatment that is currently gaining a great deal of fame. This aligner system is particularly favoured by younger patients. There are also many celebrities and influencers who openly share their positive experiences with clear aligners.

One of the main reasons so many people prefer Invisalign to traditional braces is that the first device is invisible. However, the advantages of Invisalign go far beyond its esthetic appeal. It is a removable aligner system, so there is no food or drink restriction during treatment. It is also comfortable and provides fast and effective results.

However, there is one common concern associated with this type of orthodontic treatment, and that is that it could stain the teeth 1. Is there an actual risk of teeth staining with Invisalign or is it just another misconception that people believe? Let's find out.

Can Invisalign cause teeth discolouration?

Yes, but the Invisalign device itself does not cause tooth discolouration or staining. It can, however, make your teeth susceptible to staining under certain circumstances. What do we mean by that?

If you wear Invisalign clear aligners, you need to keep your oral hygiene up so that no stains form on your teeth. You will have to remove your appliances before eating. When you are finished, you should clean the Invisalign trays and your teeth properly and then place the device back onto your teeth. Keeping your teeth clean will prevent you from getting tooth stains. On the other hand, regularly wearing aligners over dirty teeth can cause tooth discolouration and other dental issues.

So if you follow your doctor's home care instructions and keep your teeth clean throughout your Invisalign treatment, there is no reason to be concerned that your teeth will become stained.

A woman in front of a mirror holding invisalign

What causes teeth stains during Invisalign treatment?

There are many factors that can cause tooth staining during Invisalign treatment. Among the main reasons is that plaque and tartar can easily accumulate under your devices. When you neglect to clean your mouth properly, it often results in unpleasant stains on your teeth.

Another common reason for teeth staining is the consumption of certain foods and drinks like some tomato-based sauces, soy sauce, berries, dark beverages including red wine, coffee, tea, soft drinks and so on. Further, these foods and drinks can cause your aligners to become stained and discoloured. This may give the impression that your teeth are yellow. In addition, your otherwise invisible braces may become visible.

Furthermore, frequent consumption of acidic foods and drinks can wear down the enamel, leading to a process called demineralization. As a result, your teeth may become discoloured. The plaque or sticky film on your teeth provides the perfect habitat for acid-producing bacteria. As a result, acid weakens enamel and eventually causes staining and tooth decay. Among the most acidic foods are fruit juices, alcohol, sugary foods, and others.

How to prevent your teeth from staining with Invisalign?

Here are some tips that may help you prevent tooth stains while wearing Invisalign aligners.

Take your Invisalign aligner out when you eat

In most cases, you will have to wear your aligners for about 20 to 22 hours per day. During meals and when you drink anything that is not a clear liquid, you will need to remove the device. Therefore, you can drink water but if you consume any sweets or coloured liquids, you will need to take them off. It is important to do this to avoid staining the plastic as well as your teeth.

When you do not remove your clear aligners while drinking sugary drinks or dark drinks such as coffee and tea, you run the risk of staining your teeth. Soft drinks, for example, contain a large amount of acid that can cause plaque to accumulate. Aligners, on the other hand, fit snugly over your teeth, preventing saliva from washing away plaque and food residue. It is an ideal environment for acid-producing bacteria to flourish, ultimately causing enamel erosion and tooth decay.

Additionally drinking beverages like coffee and tea without removing your Invisalign, is harmful not only for your teeth but also for the device itself. These hot drinks can easily stain or even damage a plastic item due to the heat sensitivity of the material.

Be sure to maintain excellent oral hygiene

It is crucial that you maintain a good oral hygiene routine as part of your Invisalign treatment. After each meal, make sure to clean both your Invisalign aligners and your teeth. This is the best practice to prevent plaque buildup and tooth stains.

Make sure you brush and floss your teeth in the mornings and evenings, as well as after a meal. By doing so, you can prevent plaque build-up on your teeth, avoid discoloration and any other dental problems that might arise. Clear aligners can easily collect food particles, bacteria, and other debris that hasn't been cleaned from teeth after eating. Consequently, your teeth may be impacted negatively, causing tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems. If you are not able to brush your teeth after eating you should at least rinse your mouth with water to wash away food residue.

In addition to cleaning your aligners every night 2, you should clean your aligners before placing them into your mouth. This can be accomplished with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You need to clean the aligner carefully on the inside as well as on the outside. Alternatively, you can just run your devices under cool or lukewarm water if you don't have a toothbrush with you.

Avoid foods that stain teeth

In spite of the fact that clear aligners do not require any food restriction, if you are genuinely interested in keeping your smile bright, you should avoid exposing your teeth to staining agents. Do not consume foods high in acid, sugar, processed foods, or dark sauces such as tomato and barbeque. Furthermore, you may have to restrict the consumption of some healthy foods, such as blueberries, tomatoes, etc.

Foods high in sugar are among the most common culprits behind tooth discoloration and tooth decay. Over time, sugars ferment on your teeth and combine with bacteria in your mouth to form plaque. These bacteria then produce acids, resulting in cavities. Consider the situation if you didn't brush your teeth and then put Invisalign on top of them. Acids and bacteria will be interacting much more quickly because of the anaerobic environment. In any case, if you cannot limit such foods, make sure to at least take proper care of your teeth and aligners.

Avoid dark beverages and sugary drinks

When you are concerned with tooth staining, try to limit the consumption of red wine, coffee, tea, soft drinks and fruit juices. However, if you can't avoid such drinks, then make sure to remove your trays before you have a drink, and then brush your teeth afterwards.

Many patients drink dark beverages with their aligners on, especially if they are out of the home. However, it is important to note that drinking anything other than water while wearing Invisalign may cause aligner discoloration. For this reason, if you are going out to celebrate something, you might want to leave your trays at home. When you get back, brush and floss your teeth and then put your aligners on again.

Do not smoke

Your aligners will become very discoloured when you smoke with them on. They become yellow, stained, and not aesthetically pleasing. The best thing to do would be to quit smoking. If you are not able to, then make sure you remove the device.

Cigarettes, however, are harmful to your teeth regardless of whether or not you wear Invisalign. There are many ways smoking affects your oral health: it causes stains and make your teeth yellow, it causes tartar to build up, it increases your risk of gum disease, etc.

Check up with your dentist on a regular basis

It is essential to see your dentist on a regular basis in order to maintain good oral health. During your appointment, the provider will examine your mouth and teeth to determine if there are any plaque or tartar that needs to be removed. Additionally, he/she may notice enamel wear, detect tooth decay, or tooth discolouration in an early stage before they become more serious problems.

Keeping your mouth clean and plaque-free with regular deep cleanings is also important for stain prevention. When plaque sits on the surface of the teeth for too long, it hardens and becomes tartar, which is hard to remove. Over time, it may result in discoloration of the teeth and other dental issues.

How do you fix Invisalign stains?

Below are some ways that may help you improve the appearance of discoloured teeth after Invisalign. Which method you should use will depend on what type of stains you have, whether these are white or brown spots.

Woman brushing teeth next to bathroom sink

Tooth remineralization

When you have white spots on your teeth because of tooth enamel wear or demineralization, then you need to remineralize them. There are different ways you can go about reversing it- you can try natural methods or get fluoride treatments from a professional 3.

If your spots are not too severe then some lifestyle changes might be sufficient to get rid of them. Here are some tips:

  • brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste
  • avoid eating sugary foods
  • increase your calcium and vitamin intake
  • ensure that you drink enough water.

You may also opt for an in-office procedure such as fluoride treatment. With this method, your dentist will treat your spots with a high concentration of fluoride. You will benefit from the treatment not only in dealing with tooth discolouration but also in keeping your enamel strong.

Teeth whitening

If your teeth appear yellow or you have some darker spots on them then professional teeth whitening is your best bet. During the treatment, the dentist uses a special teeth whitening gel containing hydrogen peroxide, along with a special lamp, to remove stains. The cost of this procedure can be a bit high, but it is one of the most effective whitening options available 4.

If you want a more affordable way to get rid of surface staining, you can use at-home whitening products. They are available in many brands and types. However, if you have heavily stained teeth, at-home whitening kits might not be as effective because they normally contain less hydrogen peroxide.

Frequently asked questions

Is discolouring normal for Invisalign?

If you skip proper care during your Invisalign treatment, it is normal to experience both teeth and aligner staining. Even though it isn't aesthetically pleasing, it is usually not going to affect the results you hope to achieve with your orthodontic treatment.

Should you whiten your teeth before Invisalign treatment?

Before doing Invisalign, you usually don't need to get your teeth whitened. The best time to attempt whitening treatments is after you have finished using your aligners.

Can you brush your Invisalign with toothpaste?

Yes, you can. However, you need to make sure that you use a gentle formula that is not too abrasive otherwise you can damage the trays. Kids toothpaste should be fine for this purpose.

Is Listerine bad for Invisalign?

You shouldn't use mouthwash as long as your aligners are in your mouth. Mouthwash may stain the aligners or damage them. When cleaning your mouth, it is best to remove your Invisalign aligners, brush, floss, rinse with mouthwash, then put them back on.

Does your breath smell with Invisalign?

It is not Invisalign itself that causes bad breath, but the plaque and bacteria that build up on the aligners. If you place your Invisalign tray over dirty teeth you are very likely to experience bad breath.