Types of Braces

What kinds of braces are there?

Braces can be broadly classified into two groups: fixed or removable braces.

Fixed braces are fixed to the teeth for the entire duration of treatment while removable braces can be taken out of the mouth when you eat or brush your teeth.

Types of fixed braces:

Traditional metal braces consist of stainless steel brackets that are “glued” to the front surfaces of the teeth. A metal arch wire runs through the brackets and is held in place by elastic bands which comes in different colours.

Self-ligating braces are are gentle “gated” braces that are designed with a unique self locking mechanism incorporated into the bracket. The “gates” replace the coloured elastic bands which hold the arch wire in place. They do not otherwise differ in terms of efficacy compared to traditional metal braces.

Tooth-coloured braces consist of ceramic or composite plastic brackets which blend in with the surrounding tooth structure and makes the braces less noticeable. Depending on the systems, the arch wires may be metal or tooth-coloured.

Lingual braces are discreet, metal braces that are custom-fitted to the back surfaces of the teeth and are invisible during normal day-to-day activities.

Types of removable braces

Removable active appliances can be used for simple tooth movements and may be a good option to be used in growing children as they are easy to fabricate and well tolerated by young patients 

Functional appliances are usually indicated when the child is still growing skeletally. They can serve the purpose of modifying the direction which the jaws are growing.

Clear aligners are a form of clear, plastic removable trays which fit your teeth. Movement of your teeth gradually into their desired positions is achieved by wearing a sequence of aligners, which incrementally move your teeth over time. Clear aligners are an alternative to conventional fixed metal or ceramic braces and are one of the many tools in the orthodontist’s armamentarium that can help move teeth. They can be used to treat cases of mid to moderate complexity. There are many brands available in the mar-ket, with some being better than others. Speak to an orthodontist today to find a solution that is most suitable for you.

The advantages and disadvantages of clear aligners

One major advantage clear aligners have over conventional braces is its aesthetic appearance once worn, being almost entirely inconspicuous, especially when compared to traditional metal braces. The aligners are also removable, facilitating the maintenance of oral hygiene and eating. Patient shave also reported less discomfort with clear aligners com-pared to conventional braces.

However, there are disadvantages to clear aligners. As they are removable, aligners only work when worn, and therefore require good compliance with wear. Dietary changes will be required as liquids can seep between the teeth and the aligners, predisposing the patient to stains or tooth decay if sugary and coloured drinks are frequently consumed. Clear aligners may not be suitable for every patient, and some bites may be better corrected with conventional braces. 

Can I be treated with clear aligners?

Not all cases can be treated well with clear aligners. You should have your teeth assessed by a dental professional, who can then advise you on the most appropriate type of treatment. You may use our member directory to find an AOS member near you to schedule a consultation and have your questions answered.