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Most patients are excited to experiment with colors when wearing braces, but did you know that not all colors are created equal? Over time, I decided to remove some of the colors from my elastic collections, just because they stain so badly. I now always warn my patients of the colors they may want to avoid, and it’s only fair that I share these colors with you, too.
The main braces colors to avoid are yellow, gold, orange, brown, dark green, white, light blue, pastel colors and transparent elastic ties or power chains. These colors can either stain, make the teeth look yellow, or make you look like you have food stuck in your teeth.
If you’re curious to know more about what exactly is wrong with each color, read on. I’ll also share some tips on similar colors to go for, and what foods to avoid to limit staining your braces.
The main colors to avoid with braces
Some colors are just not popular with patients, and for good reason. Not only are they unflattering, but they may give the impression that you have food stuck in your teeth. So here are 6 colors to avoid:
Yellow is a bad idea for obvious reasons. It can look like plaque accumulation on your teeth, giving the impression of yellow or dirty teeth. Yellow is not a popular color anyway, very few patients want to try it.
While gold looks good upclose, it just looks like a darker yellow from the distance. If your teeth already have a yellow hue, gold will accentuate it. If you want to keep your teeth looking as white as possible, avoid gold too.
Not all green colors are created equal. Some elastics come in a neon green color, and that’s a fun shade to wear. Teals are also an excellent choice, as well as very dark greens. It’s the regular green you want to stay away from – it might look like you have lettuce stuck between your teeth. But aside from that, I think green looks nice on most people.
Brown isn’t a flattering color, unless your teeth are pristine and super-white to contrast with it. Brown reminds people of stains, and may give the impression of teeth with cavities, or foods like chocolate stuck to them. It’s best to avoid it, although it might work if you have glasses with dark brown frames.
Just like yellow and gold, orange brings out that yellow hue inside the teeth’s enamel and makes it even more visible. If you have yellow teeth, you might also want to avoid lipsticks that have an orange tint.
This one sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Some patients would think choosing white could make their teeth appear whiter, but the opposite is true. The harshness of white elastics will contrast with the yellow of your teeth, making your teeth look darker.
You can still try shades of yellow, orange, green and white as part of a color mix. They tend to go well with other colors, and you can create fun combinations to match your personality.
Braces colors that stain in time
The colors that I mentioned above are a bad idea to begin with, but some colors look great during the first week, only to stain or turn into a different color altogether after more time has passed.
If you’re looking for something discreet and don’t want to draw attention to your teeth, you might be tempted to choose transparent elastic ties or powerchains. In fact, transparent elastics are the most popular request I get from my patients.
The problem with transparent elastics is that they turn yellow in as little as 3 weeks, no matter what you eat or how well you care for your braces. Yellow elastic ties will make your teeth look dirty, and you’ll be anxiously waiting for that next visit.
Here’s what to choose instead: pearl elastic ties or pearl power chains. While pearl tends to stain too, it doesn’t get as yellow because it has a subtle, shimmery pigment. Pearl also pairs perfectly with ceramic braces. If you really don’t want to risk it, go with grey or silver instead. Grey or silver will blend with the metal in your braces.
Pastels can look stunning, especially when coupled with ceramic braces. Colors like light pink, baby blue, mint green, peach, lavender or light purple all look really delicate and feminine. But the problem is they don’t last.
Because they’re so light, pastel colors get easily stained with foods and drinks, lose their pigment and often turn yellow. Curry can make them horrendously yellow in just seconds, but so can coffee, and don’t even get me started on what smoking can do to light color ligatures.
Pastels are great for an event, but don’t expect them to last more than a couple of weeks. Since most visits are scheduled at 6 to 8 week intervals, you’ll be waiting a long time to replace your elastic ties.
While it technically fits the pastels category, I decided to make a case against light blue or baby blue on its own. The issue with light blue is that it can turn green, and not a cute kind of green. If you eat or drink anything green – green smoothies, pea soup, matcha, etc – you’ll no longer have light blue ligatures. The same goes for curry and yellow food dyes. Yellow + blue = green, so you can only guess what the outcome will be.
Go for turquoise, teal, or more intense shades of blue instead, and you won’t have to worry about staining.
Foods to avoid so you don’t stain your braces
Now that you know what colors stain easily, it’s time to address the cause, too, so you can enjoy wearing light colors on your braces every once in a while.
Here’s a list of all the foods to avoid. Not only do they stain the elastics that get replaced, but they can also permanently stain ceramic brackets, and the enamel of your teeth if you consume them too frequently:
- Dark-colored beverages (e.g. coffee, tea, matcha, cola, red wine)
- Berries and other brightly colored fruits (e.g. blueberries, raspberries, cherries)
- Sauces and condiments with strong pigments (e.g. tomato sauce, soy sauce, curry)
- Dark-colored sports and energy drinks
- Popsicles and other brightly colored frozen treats
- Dark-colored juices (e.g. cranberry, grape)
- Hard candy with artificial food coloring
- Beets and other brightly colored vegetables
- Smoking, using a tobacco product
- Chewing gum containing artificial food coloring
- Curries (brightly colored and pigmented)
If you happen to indulge in these foods every once in a while, rinse your mouth with water and brush your teeth as soon as you can. With sugary foods and drinks, though, it’s best to wait 20-30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
It’s worth noting that no amount of mouthwash or toothpaste will clean your elastics once they’ve been stained, so prevention is key here.
Ultimately, staining your colored braces is no big deal. You’ll have them changed every 6 to 8 weeks. But if you have an event coming up, or want to take plenty of pictures for certain occasions, factor in when you’ll be changing your colors and how well they’ll keep. Or go with more intense colors that maintain their pigment. And don’t forget to have fun!
Interested in more braces color ideas? Check out these articles:
- Best Power Chain Colors to Choose for Your Braces
- Braces Colors for Girls: Top Picks to Brighten Your Smile
- Best Braces Colors for Adults: Which one is you?
- 13 Braces Colors That Enhance Brown Eyes and Brown Hair
- 9 Braces Colors for Blondes with Blue Eyes
Whether you’re new to braces or a braces veteran, taking care of your teeth (and your health) 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: