Feeling Ugly With Braces? Tips to Boost Your Confidence

The idea that braces are ugly comes from social stereotypes and media portrayals. We’ve been made to believe braces make people unattractive, and that’s just not true.

However, there are a few things you could be doing that make braces stand out in a negative way.

Braces can look ugly if not taken care of properly. Yellow staining, plaque buildup, and swollen gums are factors that can make braces look less appealing. Good oral hygiene, choosing the right band colors, looking put together and fresh, and taking care of mental health can make a huge difference.

What Makes Braces Look Ugly?

There are some things that people with braces do that can impact the way they look, and it has a lot to do with self-care. Let’s talk about some factors that can make braces look less attractive and how to avoid them.

Yellow Staining from Food

One issue with braces is that they can stain. The bands on top of the braces can become yellow, or the teeth can develop a yellow tint, especially if you’re not careful with your food choices. This can make you feel self-conscious and want to hide your smile. Here are some tips to avoid that:

  • Avoid foods and drinks with strong colors, like coffee, tea, and red wine.
  • Limit sugary or acidic foods as they can weaken your tooth enamel.
  • Be sure to brush your teeth after every meal and clean around the braces.

Avoid whitening products, as they only work around your braces, and not on the enamel covered by the brackets. This can lead to a patchy, uneven look once the braces come off.


I’m sure you already know that smoking is bad for you, and if you need help quitting, there are plenty of resources to help you do that.

But here’s another incentive. Smoking will cause intense brown staining on your teeth and braces, which will make your smile look, well, ugly.

In my experience, smoking patients develop large brown stains around braces in as little as a month. No matter how often I send them to the hygienist, these stains always come back.

Smoking will also affect the health of your gums, not to mention give you bad breath.

Plaque Buildup

Hopefully, you’re not walking around with food stuck to your braces. But if you don’t brush well enough, you can still deal with plaque.

Plaque buildup can make your braces look unappealing and pose serious health risks. It can lead to tooth decay or unattractive permanent white spot lesions on your teeth.

Have you ever seen people with white stains on their teeth once their braces came off? They most likely didn’t brush very well.

To prevent plaque buildup:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day using an electric toothbrush with soft bristles.
  • Floss daily, using a floss threader or orthodontic floss to reach between your braces.
  • Consider using an interdental brush or water flosser for more thorough cleaning.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.

Swollen Red Gums

Swollen and red gums can happen when you have braces. They are a side effect of too much plaque on your teeth.

Swollen gums bleed at the slightest touch, and patients want to avoid brushing. As a result, the plaque gets even worse. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s best to prevent gums from becoming swollen altogether.

To maintain healthy gums:

  • Practice good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing regularly.
  • Avoid irritants like smoking and alcohol.
  • Use an alcohol-free mouthwash to rinse your mouth.
  • Give your gums a gentle massage while brushing.
  • Don’t give up on brushing if you notice bleeding gums.

Size and shape of teeth

The size and shape of teeth can affect how braces look on a person’s face. Small teeth can be almost completely covered by braces, which can make it seem like there’s nothing but metal in your mouth.

Crooked teeth can also affect how braces look. When teeth are misaligned, braces can draw more attention to them. But it’s not the braces themselves that make the teeth look “ugly”, and in a few months, you’ll see them straighten into a beautiful smile.

Another factor that can affect the appearance of braces is a gummy smile, where too much gum is visible when the person smiles. 

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about these issues. The best you can do is accept your teeth and braces, and if you’re still not satisfied, resort to veneers once the treatment is complete.

Can braces make you ugly in the long run?

Some people worry that braces can make them look bad in the long run. They think braces can change their face shape or that extractions “ruin faces.”

While there’s some truth to these concerns, and some people don’t like the end result, braces have the opposite effect most of the time. Most people are pretty happy with how they look after the braces come off.

It’s normal for faces to change in time. Your top lip will drop as you age, your nose will change, and so will your skin. Your teeth do support your cheeks and lips, and since braces will move your teeth, you can expect some slight changes.

How to Boost Your Confidence While Wearing Braces

Having braces shouldn’t stop you from feeling amazing. Remember, you’re taking control of your dental health, and that’s something to be proud of!

Confidence comes from within, from the way you perceive and appreciate yourself. But here are some external things you can do to boost the way you feel:

Excellent Oral Hygiene

Keeping your teeth and braces clean prevents issues down the line and keeps your smile looking great. Make sure to brush, floss, and use mouthwash at least twice per day.

Give your orthodontist or dental hygienist a visit for a thorough, professional cleaning every couple of months– it’s worth it!

Your dental hygienist has a lot of tricks up their sleeve for removing all plaque and stains from your teeth. Hygienists have special brushes and powerful air polishers that remove stains. They’re able to whiten and freshen teeth without even touching your enamel. It’s like taking your teeth to a spa.

Choosing the Right Band Colors

When it’s time to pick the colors for your bands, have fun with them! Choose colors that complement your skin tone, hair color, style, or even match your favorite outfits.

In time, you’ll learn what colors suit you best and how to dress and use makeup to enhance your look.

Remember, brace bands are temporary. If you want to try something new, you can always switch things up on your next visit.

Looking Put Together

If you want to feel beautiful, pay attention to your overall appearance. It all starts with body care. Showering every day, taking care of your skin, and basic personal grooming are all acts of self-care.

It’s easy to let personal hygiene slide if you’re feeling depressed and demotivated.

Next, focus on your outer appearance, pick out your outfit in advance, and take the time to style your hair. Anything that can make you feel more confident while wearing your braces.

You’re already working on perfecting your smile, so why not enhance the rest of your look too?

Fresh Breath and Great Scent

It’s a well-known fact that a great scent can boost your mood and confidence, and the same is true about fresh breath.

Make sure you’re keeping breath mints, gum, or mouthwash on hand (just be sure they’re sugar-free!).

And don’t forget about your body scent. Wearing a fresh, appealing fragrance can make you feel more put-together.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Wearing braces can sometimes take a toll on your mood. It’s a long road, and there will be many ups and downs.

So, before you start avoiding mirrors, surround yourself with people who are supportive and uplifting. If you don’t find any in real life, there are great online support groups for people wearing braces.

If you ever feel like your braces are making you ugly and unattractive, pay attention to the things you tell yourself. Make a conscious effort to say good things about yourself instead.

After all, you’re doing a fantastic thing for your health and creating a beautiful smile. It’s something to be proud of.

Final Thoughts

I know having braces can be tough, and maybe you often worry about how they look on you. It’s totally normal to feel that way! So many people are struggling to accept themselves and practice self-compassion.

Instead of focusing on how braces make you look, try to embrace this stage in your life. Think of it as a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain. With time, you’ll get used to your braces and might even start feeling more confident with them on.

So, don’t stress too much about it. You’re still beautiful and awesome, braces or no braces!

Whether you’re new to braces or a braces veteran, taking care of your teeth and gums during orthodontic treatment is crucial. That’s why I’ve put together a list of orthodontist-recommended tools that will make caring for your braces a breeze:

  • An awesome mid-range electric toothbrush. Rotating electric brushes are much more effective, in my opinion, than sonic ones. You can keep your teeth white by using whitening replacement heads.
  • A countertop water flosser to blast out food debris between teeth. I know handheld models are tempting, but you’ll need a lot of water. You can almost replace flossing with this and your gums will be healthier.
  • Braces accessories to get into all the nooks and crannies: straight or angled interdental brushes, floss threaders, orthodontic wax or silicone. For pain management, have gel ice packs handy, Orajel, and Mouth Magic (a cool soothing solution for mouth sores).
  • For clear aligner patients, a tool like PUL helps both remove and seat your aligner or retainer. Don’t forget to use a cleaning product like crystals to keep your trays fresh and hygienic.

Looking for advice, a second opinion & support on your braces journey? Join the Facebook group!

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