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Teeth Staining with Invisalign

Ellie Swain Headshot
Written by
Ellie Swain
Medically Reviewed by 
Dr. Erica Anand
7 Sources Cited

Can Invisalign Cause Teeth Staining?

Invisalign is an orthodontic treatment used to straighten teeth. It’s a popular alternative to traditional braces due to its low profile and convenience. It’s a series of clear aligners (also known as invisible braces) for your upper and lower teeth.

Invisalign aligners are nearly invisible, making them popular for image-conscious teens and adults.

Although convenient, if you skip proper care while wearing Invisalign, you might experience unsatisfactory results, like stained teeth.

What Causes Teeth Staining With Invisalign?

There are various possible causes of teeth staining with Invisalign. Drinking beverages like red wine or coffee, for example, can stain the trays and your teeth.

A process called demineralization is another common cause of teeth staining. This occurs when plaque eats away at the minerals in your enamel. Plaque is a sticky film on your teeth made of bacteria and food particles. Enamel is the shiny, protective layer of your teeth.

Demineralization is an early stage of tooth decay. It can lead to white or brown spots on your teeth. Tooth decay eventually leads to cavities, so it’s essential to catch it in its early stages.

It’s possible to remineralize enamel. But once it completely wears through the dentin layer of a tooth, there’s no regenerating it.

Fix your teeth from home for cheaper than Invisalign. Learn about the best Invisalign alternatives.

5 Ways to Prevent Tooth Discoloration With Invisalign

Here are some effective ways to prevent teeth staining with aligners: 

1. Practice Excellent Oral Hygiene

Your best protection against tooth stains and decay is following an excellent oral hygiene routine. 

Invisalign aligners are removable. This makes keeping your teeth clean easier than with treatments that are physically attached, such as braces.

It’s also important to brush and floss after every meal before placing your aligners back in your mouth.

Your saliva keeps your teeth clean by removing plaque. However, your Invisalign aligners are designed to fit comfortably around your teeth, preventing saliva from washing away plaque. 

If you don’t brush and floss before placing your aligners back in your mouth, acids and bacteria from food can harm your teeth. Your saliva won’t be able to wash it away.

An oral hygiene routine with Invisalign treatment is similar to the one you likely already have. It will just be done more frequently.

2. Make Dietary Changes

Diet has a significant impact on oral health. When you consume sugars, they turn into acids that wear through tooth enamel.

The more sugar you eat, the harder it is for saliva to clean your mouth. Avoiding sugary foods during Invisalign treatment can prevent plaque buildup.

3. Avoid Foods That Stain Teeth

If you’re concerned with teeth staining, avoid dark, acidic foods and beverages. 

This might involve limiting some healthy foods. For example, while berries are healthy, they tend to stain teeth. 

Be sure to consider nutrition when deciding which foods and drinks to eliminate.

Both soda and tea stain your teeth. If you decide to only give up one, choose soda to avoid its high sugar content.

It’s best to avoid the following foods and drinks:

  • Brightly colored juices
  • Soft drinks
  • Red wine
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Dark sauces like barbeque and tomato
  • Curry
  • Mustard

Remember: A food or drink that can stain your shirt can also stain your teeth.

If you are unable to avoid eating these foods, make sure to brush your teeth after every meal.

4. Visit the Dentist Regularly

Regular dentist appointments are an essential part of your oral health. Deep cleanings remove plaque you can’t reach on your own.

When plaque sits on your teeth for long periods, it hardens into tartar. Tartar is difficult to remove with a toothbrush.

Dentist appointments are also important because of oversight. 

Your dentist can notice enamel wear before it escalates into other more serious problems. They can also detect tooth decay before there is any obvious discoloration. 

5. Quit Smoking

There are various reasons to quit smoking. Smoking can harden the plaque on your teeth, which produces tartar.

The tar and nicotine in cigarettes can also yellow or darken teeth.

Beyond cosmetic issues, smoking increases your chances of developing cavities, gum disease, cancer, and lung diseases, among many others. 

Aligner Brands That Whiten While Straightening

Various aligner brands offer whitening products that are safe to use in your aligners:

  • Byte provides a bottle of BrightByte whitening foam with every treatment plan. The 3-in-1 foam works as a cleanser, whitener, and breath freshener.2
  • SmileDirectClub’s teeth whitening kit contains two full whitening treatments (a year’s supply) and an LED accelerator light. The blue LED light quickens SDC’s Bright Boost formula for faster results.1
  • Candid’s premium whitening foam is gentle enough to stay in your aligners all night. This allows the product to brighten your smile while you sleep.3

Interested in straightening your teeth at home? Here are the best clear aligner companies.

How to Fix Tooth Discoloration After Invisalign  

If you notice demineralization before it’s fully worn through your enamel, you can reverse the process. 

Demineralization is the natural removal of minerals from your enamel; remineralization involves adding them back.

It’s possible to remineralize your teeth in various ways. However, sometimes just following an excellent oral care routine is enough to reduce spots on your teeth.

Your dentist might also recommend fluoride treatment. Fluoride provides necessary minerals to keep your enamel strong.

If you have external teeth stains, speak to your dentist about whitening options. Ask about any remineralization treatments that might help you following Invisalign treatment.

Summary

  • Invisalign doesn’t directly cause tooth discoloration.
  • Avoiding proper oral hygiene during Invisalign treatment can result in plaque buildup and discoloration.
  • Caring for your teeth helps you avoid discoloration or notice it in its early stages.
  • You can prevent tooth discoloration by avoiding staining foods and visiting the dentist regularly.
  • Various aligner brands offer whitening products to use while straightening the teeth.

Last updated on April 12, 2022
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on April 12, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light - 1 Year of Whitening, Smile Direct Club
  2. BrightByte, Byte
  3. Whitening foam, Candid Co
  4. Baik, Un-Bong et al. “Teeth discoloration during orthodontic treatment.” Korean journal of orthodontics vol. 47,5 : 334-339
  5. Liu, Chen-Lu et al. “Colour stabilities of three types of orthodontic clear aligners exposed to staining agents.” International journal of oral science vol. 8,4 246-253. 16 Dec. 2016
  6. Carey, Clifton M. “Tooth whitening: what we now know.” The journal of evidence-based dental practice vol. 14 Suppl : 70-6
  7. Epple, Matthias et al. “A Critical Review of Modern Concepts for Teeth Whitening.” Dentistry journal vol. 7,3 79. 1 Aug. 2019
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