General Dentistrytypes of braces for teeth

There are six main types of braces available today:

  • Removeable braces like Invisalign
  • Fixed braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Self-litigating braces
  • Ceramic braces

In this article, we take a look at each of these types in detail…

Removable braces

The first form of braces we will be looking at are removable braces, which are not fixed within the mouth permanently and can be removed when required. The most common type of this form of braces are clear braces, and they have been increasing in popularity in recent times.

Clear braces

Clear braces, as the name suggests, are almost invisible when being used. They are formed out of clear plastic and are sometimes referred to as invisible braces or clear aligners. These braces are made using modern technology – high tech scanners and the use of 3D printing create an exact 3D model an individual’s mouth. Following this, a customised pair of clear braces are made which will suit the patient’s oral situation exactly. The patient will then regularly visit the dentist to monitor their progress and get new sets of these braces to suit their changing needs.

Advantages of clear braces:

  • This type of brace is extremely comfortable within the mouth, you may even forget you have them.
  • Treatment time is fairly quick.
  • Braces are not easily visible to third parties.
  • Maintenance and upkeep is minimal.
  • No complex installation process required.
  • Cleaning process is very basic.
  • Can be removed when required.

Disadvantages of clear braces:

  • Among the most expensive solution.
  • Potentially can require buttons at the back of teeth to keep them secure.
  • May not be suitable if complex movement is required.

Fixed braces

This form of tooth straightening is the most common and well-known form of braces in the world, and the most popular solution for straightening teeth. In this type of orthodontic treatment, brackets are attached directly to the patients’ teeth, usually in the form of square ceramic or metal. Subsequently, an arch wire is usually used to connect the brackets and in time, adjust teeth to the desired position. Usually, the treatment time for fixed braces is 1-2 years, although it can vary based on the complexity of the oral situation. Less complicated movements can be fixed within 3 to 9 months. Fixed braces are widely accepted around the world as the most popular teeth-straightening solution. There are several different types of fixed braces, and they will be detailed in the next part.

Lingual braces

This form of braces is like the well-known traditional metal type of braces, however, rather than going on the front surface of teeth, they go on the back surface of teeth. Subsequently, this form of braces is not visible when you are eating or smiling, and thus they are effectively hidden from sight. Considering their discretion, they are actually not very common. This is largely due to their bulky nature and the potential discomfort they may cause in the mouth. Due to the increased complexity of movements and the bespoke nature of the brackets – lingual braces can be a lot more expensive compared to normal braces. However, in modern times they have evolved and are now much thinner and therefore, more comfortable.

Advantages of lingual braces:

  • From an aesthetic point they are great as you cannot see that you’re having orthodontic treatment.
  • It can potentially help if you play wind instruments.
  • Avoids potential decalcification issues that occur with metal traditional braces.

Disadvantages of lingual braces:

  • Potential for significant discomfort compared to other options.
  • Can be quite expensive.
  • Treatment time is fairly long.
  • Can potentially give the individual a lisp.

Self-ligating braces

Self-litigating braces have become quite popular in recent times and are very similar to traditional metal braces. They feature the traditional bracket and wire system, however, rather than using rubber bands, they feature a sliding bracket mechanism. This ensures minimal friction and is much less painful than traditional metal braces can be in the mouth. They can come in both metal form, and also ceramic colours so you have full options available.

Advantages of self-litigating braces:

  • Treatment time is reasonably quick.
  • Potential discomfort is minimised with the mechanism.
  • Require fewer dental visits.

Disadvantages of self-litigating braces:

  • This option is not suitable for all patients.
  • Require special equipment to keep oral hygiene level high.
  • Can be a more costly option.

Ceramic braces

This form of braces is quite similar to the traditional metal braces, however, they feature clear or tooth-coloured brackets rather than metal ones. These brackets are then attached to teeth using similarly coloured arch wire and rubber bands, thus meaning they are not highly visible.

Advantages of ceramic braces:

  • Can be more comfortable in mouth compared to metal braces.
  • An inexpensive option in comparison.
  • Very durable so will not require frequent upkeep or repair.

Disadvantages of ceramic braces:

  • Due to staining your diet will need modification.
  • Because ceramic brackets are weaker than metal brackets, they need to be made larger. This can potentially mean more rubbing on the teeth.
  • Arch wires are made from metal but coated in a white material to make them look more aesthetically pleasing. It looks fairly good to begin with but closer to the time they need changing (after 4 weeks) the coating tends to rub off leaving the metal wire visible,

Metal braces

This is perhaps the most well-known type of fixed brace option and have been used the longest. They are often the preferred option for jaw alignment and are very popular. They are usually made of stainless steel, and a flexible metal arch wire is used to guide teeth into the desired position. In modern times, arch wires can also be heat activated to allow for quicker movement. Often the rubber bands come in many different colours, and thus, they can be exciting for children and young adults.

Advantages of metal braces:

  • This is the most inexpensive form of braces.
  • The colourful rubber bands can be exciting for children.
  • This form of braces is very strong and unlikely to break.
  • Treatment time is among the quickest.
  • Can be used for multiple different dental issues.

Disadvantages of metal braces:

  • This form of treatment is completely fixed and not removable.
  • Potential for some gum irritation but not as much as cosmetic ceramic braces.
  • Will require frequent dental visits for upkeep.
  • Highly visible and can be seen easily when talking or smiling.

If you are considering teeth straightening treatment we hope this has helped you understand some of the options that may be open to you.  If you would like to arrange a consultation with one of our team, we would be happy to help.