Ugly Betty’s Betty did finally get her braces removed, after a fall-induced dream sequence in the “Million Dollar Smile” episode from the fourth season.
Ugly Betty covered much more than the main character’s appearance during the course of its four seasons, but Betty’s signature style is iconic, nonetheless.
By the time that Ugly Betty’s fourth season aired, Betty had changed a lot. The show’s protagonist even got her braces removed just in time for the series final, in an episode titled “Million Dollar Smile.”
Ugly Betty’s hidden beauty
The famed costume designer, Patricia Field, and creator, Silvio Horta, certainly knew what they were doing when they made the series’s titular character, Betty Suarez (America Ferrera) walk into the pristine and cylindrical halls of the Mode office on her first day with her thick red glasses and her clashing “Guadalajara” poncho in tow.
But as much as Ugly Betty is a satirical dramedy meant to make fun of the high-fashion world, the show ended up tackling many complex contemporary issues ranging from immigration and class disparity, to unattainable beauty standards, LGBTQIA+ representation and more, throughout the course of its four seasons.
And the series ultimately became about much more than the “beauty is about more than just looks”-message at its core.
The Ugly Betty episode where Betty’s braces came off
Ugly Betty had become so much more than a story about an unconventional beauty trying to find her way in the world of fashion publishing by the time that the show’s final season rolled around.
But there is no denying that the “Million Dollar Smile” episode, which aired on March 24, 2010, was a momentous one.
This was the episode in which Ugly Betty’s fan-favorite protagonist finally got her braces removed.
However, in classic Ugly Betty fashion, poor Betty had her appointment postponed, and got knocked out at a photo shoot and entered an alternative-universe dream sequence before Dr. Frankel could actually get to work removing her braces at the end of the episode.
After being knocked unconscious at the Mode photo shoot featuring the all-important “Million Dollar Bra,” Betty enters a dream world in which everything is different, and she was born with perfect teeth.
And while it initially seems like in the alternative universe – Betty has it much better as the “pretty” sister and Wilhelmina’s confidant, she is also a very mean person who does not have the same connections to the people around her as her real-world counterpart.
Fortunately, Betty wakes up from this dream sequence just before the end of the episode, and Dr. Frankel is forced to remove her braces to save the “Million Dollar Bra,” which somehow got hooked onto the braces before Betty’s fall.
Did America Ferrera get braces to play Betty?
Ferrera, who portrayed the braces-adorned Betty from the pilot episode of the series, revealed that her orthodontist was the person that came up with a brilliant idea to avoid giving her permanent braces for the role.
The orthodontist reportedly fashioned a retainer, similar to one which he had made for his son’s Halloween costume in the past, for Ferrera’s character to use on the show.
Betty’s season 4 transformation
The removal of Betty’s braces may have been one of the character’s most noticeable physical changes in the fourth season, but it was not the only one.
Throughout this final season, betty also got a sleeker hairdo, more modern glasses and a slightly elevated sense of style.
However, Ferrera was quick to state that even with all of these changes, this iconic character “retains the heart and soul” of who she had been from the very beginning of the series.
Why the show waited so long to remove Betty’s braces
Although Betty’s braces have always been part of the character’s signature eclectic and quirky look, the show could only realistically postpone their removal for so long before it became absolutely ridiculous.
Ana Ortiz (who plays Betty’s sister Hilda on the show) has jokingly recalled a pitch-meeting where someone suggested that Betty should have her braces removed, only to fall coming out of the orthodontist’s office and have them put right back on again.
However, Horta did end up revealing why they finally decided to remove Betty’s braces in “Million Dollar Smile”.
Horta shared in a 2009 Paley Center panel that his plan was always to keep Betty’s braces on until year four of the series.
Of course, we now know that Betty started to change up a lot of elements of her personal style in the fourth season, and really started to, as Horta phrased it, “actually look like she is working at a fashion magazine.”