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Getting braces to correct a dental problem is a big decision. If you’ve opted for conventional metal or ceramic brackets, you’ve got one more decision to make, and it’s a fun one: What color are they going to be?

Conventional braces have several components. Strong metal bands encircle your back molars, anchoring the arch wires that run from tooth to tooth. The upper and lower arch wires are attached to brackets on the front of each tooth using rubber bands. That’s where things can get colorful.

The rubber bands — also called elastic ligatures — come in every color in the rainbow, and then some.

Since dentists recommend that kids begin orthodontic treatment somewhere between ages 8 and 14, most of the color choices are aimed at kid clients. Still, some adults might opt for a whimsical, short-term splash of color for a special event.

Rubber bands (ligatures) in braces.Share on Pinterest
The rubber bands (or ligatures) that connect the archwires to the brackets come in a variety of colors.

So many. In fact, many orthodontists offer clients a color wheel that displays a full spectrum of color options. These usually look something like an artist’s palette.

Since you’re going to be sporting these elastics until your next appointment, most orthodontists don’t mind letting you take a few minutes to choose a shade.

How often your orthodontist adjusts your braces will vary depending on how quickly your teeth move, but for most people, adjustments happen once every 6 to 8weeks. Every time your orthodontist tightens your braces, you’ll have a chance to choose new colored bands.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider what colors to try at your next orthodontic adjustment:

1. Complement your skin tone.

When choosing rubber band colors for your braces, you may consider how they complement your skin tone and make you stand out in a crowd. Here are some pointers:

  • For darker skin tones, bold jewel tones such as gold, turquoise, green, magenta, and dark blue are great options, but lighter colors such as violet and orange can also really make you pop.
  • For those with an olive complexion, berry and wine colors as well as purples can do a nice job making your skin tone stand out.
  • For medium skin tones (undertones of yellow or gold) you might want to try warm colors of green, blue, and pinks.
  • For those with fairer skin, color choices such as bronze, dark purple, as well as cooler shades of light blues, pinks, or reds could be a good choice.

No matter what you wear, your skin and eye color will remain the same, so it’s smart to ensure that your elastics work well with them.

2. Hair and eye color.

No matter the coIor of your eyes, you might consider emphasizing them with a matching braces color. Or, choose a color that can really make them pop. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Blue eyes can benefit from either matching the shade of blue or making them stand out with hot pink or light purple.
  • Green eyes will likely stand out with a deep emerald or orange, or even give purple a shot.
  • Brown eyes will pop by incorporating elastics that are varying shades of green.

When it comes to hair color, consider focusing on contrast more than matching the color of your hair. That way, your face will stand out and your smile will shine.

3. Color correct your teeth.

There are certain colors that can really brighten your smile, which may be a good option if you want your teeth to look whiter. These colors can include:

  • dark green
  • dark purple
  • deep orange
  • burgundy

In order to make your teeth appear whiter, it’s important to focus on deeper or richer colors so you’ll have nice contrast against your teeth and braces.

4. Highlight your favorite color.

If, like Elle Woods in the movie Legally Blonde, you have a signature color (“Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed.”), your braces might be a fun place to show off that self-expressive shade. Your teeth might be shifting, but you are still the one and only you.

5. Celebrate the season.

Changing your braces color to suit the season is a playful option. Neons are a popular choice for summer, as are ocean and sand color combos. In spring, mint green, petal pink, and robin’s egg blue work well together.

And in autumn, school colors could be a cool choice — unless you’re snapping on all black bands to mourn the end of vacation.

You can even tie your ligature color to a special event like prom or a holiday. Just keep in mind the timing of your next appointment. If your adjustment is mid-month, you probably won’t want black and orange Halloween bands until the middle of November.

6. Metallicize.

Matte may still be fashionable in lip color, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sparkle elsewhere. Glittery silver, gold, and metallic color options can add shine to your smile and can be especially appropriate for special events.

7. Get ready for game day.

Alternating team colors is a popular option for sports fans of all genders. You’ll be showing team spirit every time you smile.

When choosing a braces color, it’s good to keep in mind that some colors might make your teeth appear yellowish or be mistaken for something else (such as food). Here are a few colors that you may want to avoid when browsing the options:

  • lighter or vibrant greens (might resemble food)
  • clear or white (could cause teeth to appear yellow)
  • yellow (intensifies yellow tint of teeth)
  • black (could look like teeth are rotting)
  • brown (might resemble food)

Braces are available for people of all ages, and are considered a helpful treatment option for adults. While lots of adults are unabashed accessory enthusiasts, most probably wouldn’t consider braces a place for self-expression. Luckily, there are still other braces options that may suit your needs.

To keep it subtle, consider an elastic color that matches your brackets. If you’re wearing metal brackets that probably means pale grey or silver. There are also ceramic braces, which are white. Clear elastics may seem like the least visible option, but in the time between appointments, clear elastics can be stained by coffee, tea, red wine, or soft drinks.

Picking out your braces colors can be a fun experience, but there are a few things to consider when choosing the right color.

Braces colors might change

A 2016 study tested four brands of elastic ligatures and found that all of them became stained over the course of a month. How much the original ligature color changed depended on:

  • the brand of rubber band
  • the pigments in foods and drinks consumed
  • brushing habits
  • the presence of bacteria that became embedded in the elastic itself

While some discoloration is to be expected, it’s important to note that clear and light-colored bands may be more susceptible to color change. Fortunately, you’ll be able to swap out colors or get them replaced during your next visit.

Dental habits

While having braces, it’s key to keep up your dental hygiene by brushing and flossing each day. Not only does this keep your teeth strong and healthy, but it can also keep your braces colors in good shape in order to help avoid discoloration. A 2019 study found that children wearing braces actually increased the amount of flossing, brushing, and overall dental hygiene when wearing them.

Diet

Getting braces doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to severely change your diet or the food you eat, but there are a few things to consider about what you eat. For one, your teeth might be sensitive after visiting the orthodontist so you may want to stick to soft foods for the first day. Another thing to consider is that food might get stuck in your braces, which could affect the color. So, keep an eye on your teeth after you eat anything green, brown, or a vibrant color.

Tooth shade

The shade and your tint of your teeth could influence how your braces colors look, but there are ways to work around that. By sticking to darker colors (except in cases of brown or black), you’ll be able to contrast the color of your teeth against the braces to make your smile look brighter. Also, try to steer clear of clear colors or whites.

When you first get braces, you might be inclined to obsess a little bit about keeping them clean. Nobody wants to glance in the mirror and see food particles crammed in the crevices around their brackets.

But how you look is actually the least important reason to be vigilant about brushing and flossing.

Because there are so many new places for bacteria to hide in your mouth once you have braces, it’s especially important to practice good oral hygiene so you can avoid plaque, cavities, gingivitis, and long-term tooth discoloration.

Your orthodontist will demonstrate a good brushing and flossing technique for you. You may want to practice once or twice before you leave the office. And you might want to invest in special devices like floss threaders or a Waterpik to make it easier to keep them clean.

Shop online for floss threaders and water flossers (Waterpik is one well-known brand).

Braces are an important step toward developing a healthy, beautiful smile. Enhancing your braces with colorful elastics can make the process of getting that new smile more enjoyable.

When choosing braces colors, consider your own skin, hair, and eye color; your wardrobe; and any special events coming up on your calendar. You may want to avoid pure white and colors that might stain easily.

Otherwise, varying your rubber band colors is a fun way to express your personal style, celebrate holidays, and add freshness and flair to your orthodontic experience.