Colored Braces: How They Work and How to Choose the Right Colors

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different colour braces
Find out all about how these braces work

Getting your teeth straightened doesn’t have to be a drag. Colored braces let you show off your fun or fashionable side while your smile is improving. The only problem you’re left with is deciding which braces colors to choose!

Fortunately, you’re not stuck with one color of braces for your entire treatment so you can experiment with plenty of different combinations. In this article, we’ll give you some ideas for choosing the best braces colors for you. We’ll also explain why you need those little bands on your braces in the first place.

How colored braces work

Although they are often called ‘colored braces’, this type of brace is actually made of metal. It’s the small elastic bands fitted to the brackets which allow you to add some color.

Your orthodontist attaches a metal bracket to each tooth with a strong dental cement, then connects the brackets with a wire called an ‘archwire’. Small bands hold the wire in place. The orthodontist tightens the wire in different places to gradually pull your teeth into alignment.

It will take one or two hours to fit your braces, but each checkup will only be about 20 minutes. The actual fitting shouldn’t hurt but your teeth may feel uncomfortable for a few days afterward, and after each subsequent adjustment.

Treatment with colored braces usually takes 18-24 months, depending on how misaligned your teeth are.

Coloured bands on braces
Ligatures hold the wire in place on each bracket

Why do braces have colored bands?

There are two main kinds of orthodontic elastics used in braces, and each has its own purpose.

Tiny elastic bands are placed on each of the metal brace brackets to hold the archwire in place. These are also known as ‘ligatures’ or ‘o-rings’. The wire plays a big part in controlling how your teeth move, so those elastics have an important job to do. Ligatures are usually available in a wide range of colors.

Dentists use a special tool to fit and remove these little bands, as you’ll see in the video below.

Larger rubber bands may also be placed between the upper and lower jaw to help with alignment. This is more often the case with children’s braces. They are connected to special hooks on the brace brackets.

These are known as ‘inter-arch elastics’ and look more like the rubber bands you would use at home. They are less commonly offered in different colors, but they are usually placed on the sides of the mouth so are less visible. If your braces need inter-arch elastics you will need to learn to fit these yourself as they have to be replaced several times a day.

Here is a short video showing how a dentist fixes the archwire in place using ligatures:

There is one type of metal brace which doesn’t use colored bands. Self-ligating braces (like Damon braces) have a different style of bracket which lets the wire move automatically, so no elastics are needed to keep the wire in place.

Color choices

Dentists understand that having different color braces for teeth can make patients feel more confident with their smiles. You can often view the available colors on a braces color wheel at your clinic. Some possible options include:

  • White and clear (for a more subtle look)

    colour palette for braces
    The braces color palette for brand 3M
  • Grey and silver (to match the metal brackets)
  • Bright neon colors
  • Darker metallic shades
  • Glow-in-the-dark elastics

However, keep in mind that different brands of braces will come with different color options. You’ll need to ask your dentist about the exact range of colors you can choose from. Ask to view their braces color wheel at your first appointment so you’ll have time to pick colors you’re happy with. The last thing you want is to rush your decision and later regret your choice.

How often can I change the color of my braces?

You’ll be able to change your braces colors every time you visit your orthodontist for an adjustment. This is usually every 6-8 weeks during your treatment. This could mean 12-20 different color combinations in total, so you’d better get thinking!

What color braces should I get?

There are many different ways that people choose the best braces colors for them.

Some people prefer to start off with something low-key and gradually get more adventurous. If you can’t choose just one or two colors then what about rainbow braces?

Also, consider whether you want your braces to stand out or blend in. It can be fun to show off bright colors at school, but neon elastics might look out of place in an office job.

colours on metal braces
Use your braces colors to make a statement

Here are some other braces color ideas you might like:

  • Complement your eye color
  • Match the clothing colors you like to wear
  • Choose bright colors in summer and cool blues in winter
  • Red and green for Christmas
  • Black and orange for Halloween (but remember they’ll be on for up to two months!)
  • Your favorite sports team’s colors
  • Red, white and blue braces to show your patriotism

You could also take a more scientific approach to finding the best color of braces for you. Different colors and shades look good against different skin tones, so you could pick some good braces colors that way instead.

The great thing is that since your elastics change so often, you’ll have the chance to try plenty of combinations. If you decide you don’t like your current one, you’ll only have to live with it for a few weeks before being able to update your style.

Practicalities and braces colors to avoid

If you’re a fan of colorful foods like curries and tomato sauces, you might want to avoid white and clear bands on your braces. This is because they are more easily stained (just like a white shirt). Wine, coffee, and tea are also staining culprits. If you want a color that’s discreet but won’t show stains as easily, try grey or silver to blend in with the metal brackets.

Another downside of white braces is they can make your teeth look yellower in comparison.

Some people choose to avoid yellow braces – especially light yellow – because from a distance they may look like stains. Similarly, green braces might be mistaken for a bit of spinach left over from lunch!

Black isn’t a popular color (except perhaps for teens wanting to make a statement). But if you want braces colors that make teeth look whiter, you might go for dark purple or dark blue. These darker colors provide contrast to make your teeth appear lighter.

Here is a summary of the effects that various colors of braces can have:

Braces ColorEffect
White or clear Less noticeable but picks up stains and can make teeth seem discolored
Dark colors Make teeth appear whiter
Yellow and gold Could look like stains and highlight yellowness of teeth
Dark blue, gold, turquoise, violet, red, green, orange and pink (bright colors) Suit darker skin tones and hair colors
Light blue, dark purple, bronze, teal, plum, soft reds and pinks Suit lighter skin tones and hair colors

Color braces for children and teens

As a parent, you may be dismayed at your child’s choice of color for their braces, but keep in mind that this is just another way for them to express their personality. It’s really no different than them choosing which color clothes to wear each day.

Your child or teen may not be too happy about having to wear braces in the first place, but you can make the experience more enjoyable by letting them have full control over the band colors they choose.

A braces color picker can help you visualize how a particular combination will look once fitted.

You’ll also have to help your child take care of their braces. This will include:

  • Cleaning and flossing carefully every day
  • Avoiding certain foods as directed by your dentist
  • Wearing a mouth guard for any contact sports
  • Attending regular checkups
  • Wearing a retainer after braces are removed

Popular braces colors

Pink smile braces
Pink can complement your lips or lipstick

It’s up to you whether you choose a completely original color combination or select colors for your braces based on what’s popular. Here is some final inspiration from us based on the most common colors for braces.

Pink braces

It’s a fact that many girls love wearing pink, but this color can look good on boys, too. You can’t go wrong with a purple and pink braces combination.

Women often choose colors for braces that match their favorite shade of lipstick or their natural lip color. There’s nothing like a fully co-ordinated look!

Blue braces

Dentists usually offer several shades of blue braces. Pairing a lighter and darker shade is a pretty safe bet for any patient. Blue is also a good color for braces because it’s unlikely to clash with any of your clothes. Plus, if you have blue eyes it will help bring out the color in them.

Rainbow braces

Can’t choose just one or two colors? Then go for a whole rainbow across your teeth! Do note that some dentists restrict patients to just two different colors of braces at each visit, so you’ll have to check whether you’ll be allowed to get rainbow braces at your local practice.

Paying for braces in the US

Even the most affordable types of braces cost thousands of dollars, and most people don’t have that kind of money just lying around. Fortunately, there are various ways you can finance your dental work.

Dental insurance

smile with color braces
Colored braces can add to your style

Typically, basic dental plans won’t cover braces and orthodontic care, but more comprehensive plans do. The maximum discount is usually 50% and there’s an annual or lifetime maximum. However, only certain types of braces will be covered.

You might consider removable invisible braces or hidden lingual braces if you want to have straighter teeth without brackets fixed to the front of your teeth. But, check the fine print of your insurance plan, as it might not cover these types. There is also the option of clear braces or ceramic braces which work in the same way as metal braces but are much less obvious.

If you’re thinking of getting invisible braces like Invisalign clear aligners for you or your child, take advantage of our free Smile Test below. It just takes a couple of minutes to fill in your details to find out whether you’re a suitable candidate for clear aligner braces. 

Check your eligibility
for invisible braces
Step 1 / 4
1 Choose the image that most closely resembles your teeth:
2 Give some more information about the spaces between your teeth:
Upper teeth:
Lower teeth:
3 General information
I would like to begin orthodontic treatment:
Have you previously had orthodontic treatment (with metal braces, clear braces, or any other type)?
4 Please provide the following details to complete the process:

Even if your plan covers you or your child’s braces and orthodontic care, you’ll probably find that fixed metal braces are still the cheapest option.

A dental loan

If your insurance won’t pay for braces for you or your child, or you need help covering the remaining costs, one option is a personal loan. This allows you to get the treatment straight away and spread the payments over a timeframe that you can manage more easily.

To find out how much you could borrow for orthodontic work, and at what rates, visit our partner SuperMoney. Here you can receive competitive offers from different providers and compare them to see which one suits you best. It just takes a couple of minutes to enter your details, and it won’t affect your credit score.

In summary

Colored braces are a fun way to express your personality while getting your teeth straightened. Choosing a color can be harder than you think, but you’ll have plenty of chances to switch during the course of your treatment.

Dentists usually offer a choice of colored elastics as standard with metal braces, but it’s worth checking this ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

If you’d rather go for a less obvious look then invisible braces or ceramic braces could be a better choice.

Colored Braces: How They Work and How to Choose the Right Colors
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