Kids in braces smile in colors

October 30, 1991|By Lisa Lytle | Lisa Lytle,Orange County Register

SANTA ANA, Calif. - This Halloween, a lot of the kids who wear braces will be flashing toothy black-and-orange smiles. Not Tim Hamlin. This 10-year-old is going neon in green and pink.

Metal braces with colored accents are accessories worth smiling about, say kids and young teens.

But the colors aren't there just for decoration. Elastic ligatures or "ties" those tiny round bands that fit around metal brackets on the front of the teeth are the most popular colored tooth gear. (The ties and brackets are attached to thin wire bands that wrap across and put pressure on the teeth.)

Other colored parts of braces include neck-strap covers and the rubber bands that loop the top back tooth with the bottom back tooth.

Colors also are available in plastic brackets, but most orthodontists don't recommend them.

Dr. Michael Pashley, an orthodontist in Santa Ana, said colored plastic brackets discolor and loosen more quickly than metal brackets and therefore become less effective.

"Five years ago, everyone wanted to conceal their braces," said Dr. James Zahrowski, an orthodontist in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

"These days, it's more fun to wear them and show them off."

About 30 to 40 percent of the children going to Zahrowski's clinic for monthly ligature replacements are requesting Halloween colors orange and black.

Hamlin, a fifth-grader in Santa Ana, has been wearing braces for about a year.

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