Types of Braces
- Traditional metal wired braces are stainless steel and are sometimes used in combination with titanium. Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces. These braces have a metal bracket with elastic (rubber band) ties holding the wire onto the metal brackets. The second most common type of braces are self-ligating braces that do not require the need of elastic ties. Instead, the wire goes through the bracket. Often with this type of braces, treatment time is reduced, there is less pain on the teeth, and fewer adjustments are required than with traditional braces.
- “Clear” braces serve as a cosmetic alternative to traditional metal braces by blending in more with the natural color of the teeth or having a less conspicuous or hidden appearance. Typically, these brackets are made of ceramic or plastic materials and function in a similar manner to traditional metal brackets. Clear elastic ties and white metal ties are available to be used with these clear braces to help keep the appliances less conspicuous. Alternately, clear braces can be self-ligating, meaning the wire clips into the bracket without the need for ligatures. Clear braces have a higher component of friction and tend to be more brittle than metal braces. This can make removing the appliances at the end of treatment more difficult and time consuming.
- Gold-plated stainless steel braces are often employed for patients allergic to nickel (a basic and important component of stainless steel), but may also be chosen because some people simply prefer the look of gold over the traditional silver-colored braces.
- Lingual braces are a cosmetic alternative in which custom-made braces are bonded to the back of the teeth making them externally invisible.
- Titanium braces resemble stainless steel braces but are lighter and just as strong. People with allergies to the nickel in steel often choose titanium braces, but they are more expensive than stainless steel braces.
- Multi-Loop Edgewise Archwire (MEAW) therapy employs loops in the wire between teeth. This allows for more efficient vertical alignment of teeth and bite adjustment.
Traditional braces consist of a small bracket that is glued to the front of each tooth and the molars are adjusted with a band that encircles the tooth. An advantage is one can eat and drink while wearing the braces, but a disadvantage is that one must give up certain foods and eating habits while wearing them, such as gum with sugar and potato chips. Another disadvantage is they have to be periodically tightened by an orthodontist, causing increased amounts of discomfort.
ALTERNATIVES TO TRADITIONAL BRACES
Progressive, clear removable aligners (such as Invisalign) may be used to gradually move teeth into their final positions. Aligners are generally not used for complex orthodontic cases, such as when extractions, jaw surgery, or palate expansion are necessary. These braces are the most recent type of braces. This technique works by only tilting or rotating the teeth (including the roots), whereas traditional braces can parallel shift the whole tooth (including the roots). The braces are hardly noticeable on the teeth and work to gradually move the teeth into their right position without the need for wires or tightening. Like traditional braces, they do require an improvement in the amount of oral hygiene because they have to be removed to eat and one must brush and floss after every meal. Instead of using the traditional method where metal or clear braces were mounted for long periods of time. Each set of aligners is worn for about 2 weeks, and they are removed to eat, drink, brush and floss. As the aligners are replaced every 2 weeks, the teeth are forced to move to fit the new mold. The total treatment time averages 9-15 months and the average number of aligners worn is between 18 and 30