Types of Braces and How to Choose the Best Ones

There is a wide range of orthodontic treatments available for most dental issues. Choosing the most suitable treatment for yourself is not complicated. However, it is important to first understand how each type works. Braces are orthodontic devices that are used to straighten teeth and align your bite.

This article discusses the different types of braces and how to choose the best ones.

How Braces Work

Orthodontic braces straighten teeth and align your bite by applying light but constant pressure on the tooth roots for a long period. The constant pressure causes the bone around the root to change allowing your tooth to move to the desired position.

The process is done slowly over a long period allowing the jawbone to adapt and reshape. After the teeth have moved to the desired position, the braces are removed and a retainer is typically worn for a period allowing the teeth to settle in their new location.

Types of Braces

There are two main types of braces: fixed and removable. Fixed braces are secured to the teeth and can only be removed by orthodontists. They include traditional metal, ceramic, self-litigating and lingual braces. Removable braces, on the other hand, are not secured and can be removed at any time by the wearer. Clear aligners are good examples of removable braces.

1. Traditional Braces

Metal or traditional braces are the most common type of braces and have existed for over 100 years. These braces are made from high-grade stainless steel and use metal brackets that are securely attached to each tooth using dental cement. A thin arch-wire is then used to link the brackets together which also applies light pressure on the teeth causing them to move slowly into a desired position.

Ligatures or o- rings (tiny elastics) are then used to connect arch-wires to the brackets and are changed every time the braces are tightened. Braces that do not use o- rings are called self-ligating braces. Modern braces are vastly different from the older ones as they are lighter and less bulky.

2. Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are similar to traditional braces. However, instead of utilizing metal parts, they use clear transparent ceramic material. The ceramic makes them less conspicuous, making them suitable for adults seeking orthodontic braces.

However, the elastics can get discolored leading to staining or discoloration of the teeth.

3. Self-Litigating Braces

As mentioned above, self-litigating braces are a type of metal braces. However, they utilize a slide mechanism to link the arch-wires rather than the elastics used in traditional braces. The braces can produce fast results as they allow the teeth to move on their own without needing an orthodontist to adjust them.

The design also allows them to produce faster results with less friction and pressure reducing any associated pain. They are also easier to learn and require fewer dental visits, saving time and money.

4. Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are the same as traditional metal braces, only that they are attached to the inside of the teeth rather than outside the teeth. The design difference allows the braces to be as effective as the metal braces without being as visible to others. The braces may be spotted when the wearer opens their mouth, but are significantly less intrusive and conspicuous.

Despite these benefits, they are much harder to clean because the wearer cannot see them well. They may also introduce difficulty in speaking. However, like most braces, wearers can learn how to clean and speak with them over time. Additionally, they are less popular as they are not suitable for severe conditions and are more expensive than traditional braces.

5. Clear and Removable Aligners

Clear aligners have been gaining popularity in the recent decade. Clear aligners straighten teeth and align the bite using a clear plastic mould resembling a mouth guard. The aligners must be custom-made for each patient and are removable during eating, drinking or cleaning.

Unlike other types of non-removable braces, clear aligners must be changed every few weeks with new aligners designed to adjust your teeth more than the previous one. Invisalign is the largest band of clear aligners with over 14 million patients to date.

6. Forsus Appliances

Forsus appliances are fixed devices attached to the upper and lower teeth. They are used to correct malocclusion or “bad bites” characterized by your upper and lower teeth not aligning when you close your mouth. Bad bites typically occur due to crowding or crooked teeth and, in some cases, due to misalignment of the upper and lower jaws.

Forsus appliances push the top teeth back and the bottom teeth forward, allowing them to align. These devices use spring coil rods permanently attached to braces and replace headgear (a large external device used to correct bite and support proper jaw alignment and growth) or elastics.

How to Choose the Best Ones?

When choosing between the different types of braces, consider the type and severity of the dental issue, treatment duration, costs, and pros and cons of each type of brace.

Bottom Line

Dental braces vary in design and application with the patient’s choice based on the severity of the dental issue, costs, duration of treatment, aesthetics, and advantages of each type. Braces vary in comfort, convenience, and quality, allowing the patient to select suitable options. Consider consulting our orthodontists and dentists for concerns about choosing the best braces type for you.


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