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Does silver braces make your teeth look whiter?

Getting braces is an important decision that can improve your smile and oral health. With so many types of braces available, from traditional metal braces to clear aligners, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each option. One popular braces choice is silver or metal braces. But do silver braces actually make your teeth look whiter?

How Silver Braces Work

Silver or metal braces utilize brackets that are bonded to each tooth. A wire runs through each bracket and applies pressure to move the teeth into proper alignment. Silver braces are made from high-grade stainless steel or a metal composite like nickel titanium. While less visible than clear aligners, silver braces are less noticeable than traditional metal braces.

Silver braces work similarly to other fixed braces. The orthodontist cements brackets onto each tooth and runs an archwire through the brackets. The archwire applies pressure to the teeth, slowly shifting them into alignment. As treatment progresses, the orthodontist will change out the archwires for stronger ones to continue moving the teeth.

Do Silver Braces Whiten Teeth?

Silver braces do not actually whiten or bleach the teeth. However, they can make teeth appear whiter in a few ways:

  • Straightening the teeth – Crooked, overlapping teeth can look yellow or dingy. By straightening the teeth, silver braces reveal more of the natural tooth surface, which looks whiter and brighter.
  • Creating a uniform smile – When teeth are straightened, spaces are closed, and bites aligned, it creates a more uniform, even look to the smile. This can enhance the overall whiteness of the teeth.
  • Contrast – The silver metal popping against the teeth provides an eye-catching contrast, which can make teeth appear whiter by comparison.

While silver braces don’t actually change the color or whiteness of the teeth, the aesthetic impact of straighter, better aligned teeth makes them look whiter. The contrast between the silver brackets and the teeth themselves also helps teeth appear whiter and brighter.

Other Orthodontic Options for Whiter-Looking Teeth

Patients looking for whiter-looking teeth from their orthodontic treatment do have some options:

Clear aligners

Clear aligners like Invisalign use transparent plastic trays that fit over the teeth to move them. As aligners don’t have visible metal brackets like braces, they create the illusion of whiter teeth. Clear aligners are removable, so teeth can be whitened while wearing them.

Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces have tooth-colored or clear brackets that blend into the teeth. This also creates the appearance of whiter teeth compared to silver braces. The archwires connecting the brackets can also be tooth-colored instead of silver.

Teeth whitening

Whitening procedures boost the overall brightness and color of the teeth. Whitening can be done before, during, or after orthodontic treatment with silver braces. Common options include:

  • At-home whitening with custom trays and whitening gel
  • In-office power whitening supervised by a dentist
  • Whitening toothpaste daily

However, whitening is not recommended immediately before braces are placed, as it can interfere with bracket bonding. It’s best done after braces are removed or during treatment using options like whitening toothpaste.

The Impact of Silver Braces on Oral Health

While the aesthetic benefits are important, the real value of silver braces is in improving long-term oral health. Well-aligned teeth are easier to clean and less prone to decay and periodontal disease. Other benefits include:

  • Closing gaps that can trap food and plaque
  • Correcting overbites and underbites that strain the jaw
  • Aligning the bite to distribute chewing pressure evenly
  • Reducing teeth crowding that pushes teeth out of place

In addition to healthier teeth and gums, correcting orthodontic issues can prevent problems like TMJ disorder, teeth grinding, and tooth fracture. Though silver braces don’t intrinsically whiten teeth, healthier, straighter teeth accentuate whiteness for an improved smile.

Caring for Teeth with Silver Braces

With the brackets and wires of silver braces, oral hygiene requires a bit more time and attention. Patients should adhere to the following habits to keep teeth clean and prevent decalcification or white spots from forming under braces:

  • Brush after meals and before bed for 2 minutes each time
  • Clean between wires and brackets with interdental brushes
  • Rinse daily with an antibacterial mouthwash
  • Avoid staining foods and drinks like coffee, tea, red wine, and tobacco
  • Get professional cleanings every 6 months

It’s normal for teeth to look slightly duller with silver braces as plaque buildup is more likely. However, keeping up oral hygiene and getting teeth professionally cleaned helps ensure teeth stay as bright as possible throughout treatment.

How Long Until You See Whiter-Looking Teeth?

Patients generally need to wear silver braces for 12-24 months on average. But when do straighter, whiter-looking teeth emerge? Here is a general timeline:

Timeframe Expected Changes
1-3 Months Teeth begin moving into alignment
3-6 Months Tooth crowding and spacing improves
6-12 Months Significant straightening of the teeth
12-18 Months Teeth align into proper bite
18-24 Months Finishing touches for ideal alignment

Of course, every patient is different. But generally, teeth will slowly transform over the first 6 months as major alignment changes occur. In the second half of treatment, the smile should appear whiter, straighter, and more even. Mild whitenings can enhance this effect either midway through treatment or right before braces come off.

Do Teeth Get Whiter After Braces?

After braces are removed, teeth often appear whiter and brighter right away. This results from:

  • Elimination of bonded brackets to reveal the entire tooth surface
  • Removal of ligatures, bands, and archwires
  • Teeth are cleanest right after a professional cleaning

However, some patients notice their teeth darken slightly again 1-2 weeks after brace removal as plaque reaccumulates. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene and doing touch-up whitening can help teeth remain as white and bright as possible.

Should I Get My Teeth Whitened After Braces?

Professional whitening after braces is recommended to make sure teeth look their absolute brightest. This removes stains from braces, foods, drinks, smoking, and other sources. Options include:

  • In-office power whitening for dramatic brightening in one visit
  • Custom-fit whitening trays for at-home whitening
  • Whitening toothpaste or strips for maintenance

Some orthodontists even provide whitening kits or offer whitening services in-office. For optimal whitening, it’s best to wait 4-6 weeks after braces come off for remineralization of the enamel. But speak to your orthodontist to plan the ideal timing for whitening.

Do Results Last After Silver Braces?

With good oral hygiene and wearing retainers as directed, teeth can remain whiter and straighter for years after silver braces. However, some shifting can occur over time, along with gradual darkening from aging and lifestyle habits. To maintain results:

  • Wear retainers as instructed, often nightly at first
  • See the orthodontist periodically to check alignment
  • Avoid teeth-staining foods, drinks, and smoking
  • Practice excellent daily brushing and flossing
  • Get professional cleanings and whitening touch-ups annually

Following your orthodontist’s recommendations for retention and protecting your smile investment can help you enjoy whiter, straighter teeth for a long time after silver braces.


While silver braces don’t intrinsically bleach teeth, they can make teeth appear significantly whiter once treatment is complete. Straightening, bite alignment, and enamel exposure help create a more uniform, brightened smile. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene during treatment and getting professional whitening after braces are removed can amplify these whitening effects. Talk to your orthodontist to learn more about how silver braces can enhance your smile’s whiteness and create healthy, properly aligned teeth.