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Why Are My Teeth Turning Yellow With Braces?

What to Know About Your Teeth Turning Yellow With Braces

Braces are one of the most effective ways to straighten your teeth and improve your smile. While in the long run braces are beneficial to your overall look, they can make you feel self-conscious when you wear them. The last thing you need is to be wondering why your teeth seem like they are turning more yellow since you’ve gotten the braces!

So, why are your teeth turning yellow with braces? Your teeth may seem to be turning more yellow with braces because the elastic ties that go around each bracket of the braces fade easily and can be stained by the foods you eat. The staining of the elastic ties gives off the illusion that your teeth are turning yellow.

While your teeth most likely aren’t turning yellow with braces, it’s important to note that dental care can be much more difficult with braces on. The braces create many more areas for food particles and plaque to get stuck, so you have to be diligent when it comes to cleaning your teeth. To learn more about how to care for your teeth with braces, keep reading.

What is a Bracket Ligature Band and Why is it Making My Teeth Look Yellow?

The official name for the elastic ties that go around the brackets of your braces is called a bracket ligature band. These bands are usually made out of rubber and will be changed out every 4-6 weeks when you go to get your braces tightened. While I never found dealing with braces to be fun, I did enjoy choosing a new color for the bracket ligature bands whenever I would visit my orthodontist.

To understand how bracket ligature bands work, it’s important to know the different pieces of the braces. The bracket is the metal fixture that is glued to the teeth. The archwire is the metal wire that is run between each bracket. These two pieces must be attached and held together to properly straighten teeth and shift the smile. That’s where the bracket ligature band comes in. The band is tightly placed around the bracket, holding the bracket and archwire together.

The bracket ligature band is making your teeth look yellow because the color of the bands tends to fade over time and it can easily be stained by the foods and beverages you consume. The good news is that these ligature bands will be traded out for new ones every 4-6 weeks when you go to get your braces tightened.

What Foods and Drinks Can Stain My Braces?

Now that you know that your braces can be stained by certain foods and drinks, you can take steps to keep your braces whiter and brighter so that your smile looks better. While the ligature bands stain much easier than your teeth, it’s important to know that there are many foods that can contribute to the discoloration and fading of your teeth as well.

Here is a list of foods that can stain your braces and your teeth:

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Beets
  • Blueberries
  • Coffee
  • Curry
  • Dark Juices
  • Dark Teas
  • Food Coloring
  • Red Wine
  • Soda
  • Soy Sauce
  • Tomatoes/Tomato Products 


If you want to keep your braces stain-free, avoid dark-colored foods and drinks and favor light-colored food and drinks. Light-colored foods usually don’t cause stains to braces or teeth. While you don’t have to completely cut out dark-colored products, you will want to limit your consumption to avoid discoloration and staining.

What Color Ligature Bands Should I Get to Keep My Teeth From Looking Yellow?

Now that you know that ligature bands can fade and be stained to make your teeth look more yellow, it’s time to choose the color of your ligature bands wisely. Each time you visit your orthodontist, you’ll be given the opportunity to pick a color for the ligature bands and have the bands applied to the braces.

Avoid these colors of bracket ligature bands:

  • White
  • Clear
  • Yellow
  • Green


There are certain colors of ligature bands that are more difficult to stain. You’ll want to choose these colors if you want to keep your smile looking bright:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Hot Pink
  • Lilac
  • Purple
  • Silver
  • Smoke
  • Teal


When you visit your local dentist, ask to see if they have any stain-less ligature bands. There are bracket ligature bands that are stain-less, and that will give you many other options when it comes time to choose your color.

How to Take Care of Your Teeth With Braces

While your teeth may look yellow because of the staining or your bracket ligature bands, your teeth can also turn yellow due to lack of care. Braces can make it much more difficult to care for your teeth properly, and you’ll have to be diligent about cleaning your teeth to keep them bright and white. Tartar, plaque, and food particles can build up around your braces and will have to be cleaned away to keep your teeth healthy. Here are some tips for taking care of your teeth with braces on:

Brush Your Teeth After Every Meal

While braces are effective at straightening your smile, they’re also really effective at collecting food particles and plaque. Because of this, you have to be very diligent when it comes to brushing your teeth. Not only are you cleaning and brushing your teeth, but you’re now cleaning and brushing your braces.

While you can still brush your teeth as you would, you’ll also have to brush the brackets on your teeth and get the toothbrush bristles between the archwire and your teeth. Without proper brushing, plaque can hang on to your teeth and make your smile look more yellow.

Another thing you need in order to brush your teeth properly is the right toothbrush, as this will help keep your teeth bright and white. Many dentists advise children and adults that it is best to use electric toothbrushes for toddlers, children, teenagers, and adults, respectively. While using an electric toothbrush, you don’t pressure as much on the head of the toothbrush, which results in better cleaning and less chance of gum injury.

Continue to Floss Your Teeth

Just because you have braces on doesn’t mean that you stop flossing; although, braces can make it much more difficult to floss correctly. To floss your teeth with braces on, use a floss string instead of a flossing tool. The string will enable you to move around the braces and still be able to get in between your teeth.

You should floss your teeth once a day. This will remove any plaque or food particles from between your teeth. This area of the teeth is where most cavities and tooth decay form because it is often overlooked. Plaque can get stuck in between teeth where the bacteria in the plaque can attack the enamel of the tooth.

Does your flossing string get stuck when you floss? If so, check out our article Why Your Floss Gets Stuck (And What to Do About It.)

Use Mouthwash

Mouthwash can be an effective way of ridding your mouth from harmful bacteria that can cause cavities, decay, gum disease, and infection. By swishing an antibacterial mouthwash around in your mouth for a minute a day, you can keep your mouth feeling fresh, your braces feeling clean, and your mouth free from bacteria.

It’s important to note that mouthwash may stain light-colored ligature bands. Have you ever swished mouthwash around in your mouth to then notice that your teeth had a blue-ish tint? Well, that can happen to your bracket ligature bands as well.

Avoid Sugary and Sticky Foods

It’s important to avoid sugary and sticky foods if you wear braces. Not only can these foods cause damage to your braces and cause pieces to become loose, but they can also be really bad for your teeth. When sugar is placed in your mouth and comes into contact with saliva, it becomes an acid. This acid can get stuck to your teeth and attack the enamel of the tooth.

I hope this article answered your questions when it comes to why your braces are making your teeth look yellow. Our website has many articles about how to properly care for your teeth. You can read some of them here:


To read more articles, click here.

Written By

Hi, I'm Matt and I'm one of the writers here at Modern Dental Hygiene. For over 10 years I have been working directly with dentists. My goal is to help you understand the basics of dental hygiene. I enjoy writing about everything related to brushing, flossing and taking care of your teeth. In my spare time, I'm either spending time with my family, doing a DIY project or learning a new skill.

About Us

At Modern Dental Hygiene we make accessible to everyone free dental hygiene information.  The Modern Dental Hygiene team consists of enthusiast, hygienists and dentists. Our common goal is to bring quality content to help you to stay informed.

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