Gold dental braces - And other options for personalizing conventional metal braces. -

Details about gold braces. | Elastic band color schemes. | Unique bracket shapes (fashion brackets). | Pictures.

Have your braces say something about your personality.

Once you've decided to have your teeth straightened using conventional braces (brackets and wires on the front side of your teeth), you should consider some of the different ways they can be customized, so to make them special.

After all, if they're going to show, why not make them unique? Create some individuality. Have some fun.

Ways to personalize metal braces.

If you're curious about how your dental braces can make a statement about you, consider these options.

  • Opt for gold braces. - The color of gold can help to mute the appearance of your appliances and give them an air of sophistication.
  • Choose a unique color scheme for your elastics. - Show off your personality through the color of rubber bands you wear.
  • Get brackets that have a fun shape (fashion brackets). - They can be stars, flowers or footballs, just to name a few.

Related page: What kind of costs are involved with customizing metal braces?

Closeup of gold dental braces.

Picture of gold dental braces that have a deep yellow coloration.

Note the deep yellow coloration of the bracket and archwire. The elastic band is clear.

A) Gold dental braces.

One way you can dress up metal braces is by choosing gold.
a) It gives a different look.
Some people like the color of gold for their braces because they feel it has a warmer look than stainless steel, and thus helps them to blend in better with their smile.
b) Sophistication.
Other people choose gold because they like the appearance of the metal itself. They feel that its luster makes their braces stand out, in the sense that they look more distinctive, or reminiscent of fine-quality jewelry.
c) Gold braces make you look smarter.

Yes, we're saying that with a straight face. And no, it's not just our opinion. That statement is based on research (see below).

Closeup of gold braces (bracket and archwire).

Picture of pale gold dental braces (bracket & archwire).

The color of the plating on these braces is very pale.

1) Ask which color of gold.

Before choosing this option, ask your orthodontist to show you what your braces will look like.
Gold can range from a deep yellow color to one that's very light and pale (see pictures). Make sure you know which yours will be and that you like it, beforehand.
Are the braces really made out of gold?
Gold braces are only golden in appearance. They get their color from a coating that's been applied to their surface.

The brackets themselves are made out of a base metal that's been picked out because it has good physical properties for orthodontic work. Gold, especially 24K, is too soft for this purpose.

If you need more information, you'll have to ask your orthodontist for details about the exact type of coating that's applied to the hardware they use. It may be true 24K gold plating, or else a gold-colored coating such as titanium nitride (TiN) or zirconium nitride (ZrN).

2) Ask your dentist if gold archwires will be used.

Just so you're not surprised and disappointed, it's a good idea to ask your dentist if gold-colored archwires will be used with your treatment.

  • Some people choose gold braces because they want the appearance of the color in their smile. For these patients, having a matching archwire (the wire that runs across your teeth) will help to complete the look.
  • Other patients may choose gold brackets simply because they think they show less. In this case, if the archwire running across their teeth is fairly thin, its color, silver or gold, may not really matter very much. And since gold-plated archwires tend to cost more, using silver ones may be a perfectly acceptable, lower-cost option.

Related content: Gold braces costs. >>

3) Is your treatment any different when gold braces are used?

Orthodontic treatment using gold or stainless steel (silver) braces is the same. Like we stated above, the only difference between the two is the plating that's been applied to give the yellow coloration.

The situation can exist where the specific type/brand of bracket your orthodontist feels is important to use doesn't come in gold. If so, you may not be able to choose this option.

4) Research - Perceptions about gold braces.

We ran across two published papers that evaluated how gold dental braces are perceived by others.

Study #1:

In this paper (Jeremiah 2011) [page references], 130 study participants were shown pictures of a subject wearing different types of orthodontic appliances, and then asked for their impression.

  • Intellectual Ability - Higher perceived "intellectual ability" scores were associated with lingual (7.56), removable/Invisalign® (7.08) and gold dental braces (7.35), as compared to conventional/silver (6.67) and ceramic/clear (6.65) ones.
  • Attractiveness - Better perceived "attractiveness" scores (lower = better) were associated with lingual (44.54), removable (53.33) and gold braces (71.38). Followed by silver braces (75.06) and then ceramic (80.02) ones. (We'd be the first to agree that the very high score here for ceramic braces was different than we would have expected.)


Study #2:

Another study involving 252 subjects (Feu 2012), had a design similar to the one above.

Attractiveness - After looking at pictures of a model wearing different types of orthodontic appliances, the test subjects were asked their opinion about the "attractiveness" of each.

  • Clear aligners (Invisalign®, close to a no-appliance look) scored 81.
  • Gold braces ranked least favorable of all treatment methods at 17.
  • Gold's score was even below the look of silver braces with colored elastics (29). Go figure.
Our conclusions about these studies.

The findings of this last study surprised us quite a bit. And the conclusions of the first one, the study that determined that gold braces were more pleasing than ceramic ones, seemed a bit strange to us too.

All we can conclude from this is that there's clearly "no accounting for taste." So our advice would be, if the idea of gold appeals to you, why not just go ahead and do it?

Having said that, both studies included copies of the pictures test subjects were shown. And the color of gold appliances used was deep yellow. As mentioned above, there are different shades of gold. So ask to see which one your dentist has to offer. A paler coloration may be more universally acceptable and pleasing.

The individual components of conventional braces.

Slideshow pointing out the components of conventional dental braces.

Each one (bracket, archwire, elastic) can be personalized.

B) Elastic ties - You have a rainbow of colors to choose from.

Every orthodontist will encourage their patients to choose the color of the elastic bands that are used with their braces.
And this means that the usual "tin grin" look of silver appliances can instead be transformed into a rainbow of color opportunities. (The same goes for ceramic and gold braces too.)
  • You might choose bands that have a bright standout, or even fluorescent, color.
  • Or, at the other extreme, pick white or ivory elastics that help your braces to blend in better with your smile.


Which color(s) should you choose?

Slideshow showing different color schemes for dental braces elastic bands.

Researchers have studied what colors people like the most, see below.

Don't just pick a color, pick a color scheme.
When making a choice, don't overlook mixing and matching. After all, why just go with a single color when instead you can have a color scheme.
Is it Christmas? Pick red and green ties. Are you on the pep squad? Then go with black and gold, or whatever your school colors are. And, of course, July just begs for red, white and blue elastics.

1) You can pick out a different color scheme every time.

Don't worry, just because you've chosen a scheme once doesn't mean that you're stuck with it. Elastic ties are usually replaced during each appointment (usually every few weeks).

So, make a change, or even be adventurous. It doesn't cost a thing other than the courage to do it. (In case you're wondering, your orthodontist buys these bands for less than a penny apiece.)

2) Things to think about when making a choice.

  • White or ivory bands can help to mask your braces. But depending on the types of things you eat and drink, they may tend to stain.
  • Darker bands don't stain but they don't help to hide your braces either.
  • Bold colors make a statement.
  • Mixing colors is just plain fun.


3) Research studies about color preferences.

Believe it or not, dental researchers have actually studied which color of elastics people tend to find the most pleasing.


Study #1:
A study (Cordeiro de Oliveria 2012) was performed where the appearance of "no braces" vs. ceramic and metal braces was compared.
  • As a part of the study, test subjects were shown essentially identical pictures of a person wearing silver braces with green, red or grey ligatures. (Like our slideshow above, only full-faced.)
  • They then rated the pictures in terms of how "pleasant" the person's appearance looked.


Although both the sample size of test subjects and observed differences were small:
  • Adults (ages 25 to 50 years) tended to prefer grey bands the most, followed by red and then green.
  • Adolescents (ages 13 to 17 years) tended to prefer red the most, followed by grey and then green.

Probably more than anything, this information simply confirms that people of different age groups have different tastes. [And, of course, that "It's not easy bein' green." (Kermit's favorite song.)]

Study #2:

This same preference for grey over green ligatures shows up in other studies too. For example, a paper by Feu (2012) had a similar set up as the one above. Two of the pictures shown to test subjects showed the model wearing conventional silver braces with grey and then also green elastic bands.

  • 252 subjects were asked to rate the "attractiveness" of the model's appearance.
  • All study subgroups (men, women, ages 17 to 26, and ages 27 to 63) preferred the look of grey elastics over green ones.

C) Fashion brackets - Orthodontic brackets that have unique shapes.

Another way patients can make their braces special is by choosing brackets that have a unique or distinctive outline. Here are some of the shapes that are available:

  • Stars, Hearts, Soccer balls, Footballs, Flowers, Diamonds, Clubs and "Mickey".

(It's our impression that fashion brackets are only available in silver, not gold.)

In most cases, they're only placed on the center six (or four) upper front teeth. That's because these are the only ones that really show very much when you smile. Following this plan also helps to keep costs down.

Is your treatment any different when fashion brackets are used?

Heart and star-shaped orthodontic brackets.

Heart and star "fashion" orthodontic brackets.

With novelty brackets, your treatment is just the same as with conventional ones. The shape of the pad portion that's bonded to your teeth has no effect on how your case is handled.
In some cases, the specific type/design of bracket (the portion that holds the archwire) that your orthodontist feels is important to use doesn't come with pads that have special shapes. If not, this option won't be available to you.

Related content: Specialty bracket costs.