What Are the Different Types of Braces?
Braces are orthodontic appliances that correct structural or cosmetic dental problems. For example, they can help with crooked, crowded, and misaligned teeth. Practically everyone is familiar with traditional metal braces, but there are several other types of braces on the market.
All braces work by applying force that prompts teeth to move into a new position, thus correcting the underlying issue. Over time, gums and bones also change to lock the new permanent positions in place. While it’s true that all braces use force to push teeth into new positions, certain types of braces work better depending on your smile’s needs.
In this guide, we’ll examine the different types of braces available, so you can pick the right solution for you.
Type 1: Metal Braces
Also known as traditional braces, metal braces have two main components: brackets that are cemented to the teeth and wires that bridge brackets together and supply the force needed to move teeth into their new positions.
Recent years have seen several developments in metal braces. For instance, the brackets are generally slimmer and smaller. So, metal braces may be less noticeable or irritating than they once were. Additionally, wire systems have evolved to include archwire technologies that conduct the body’s natural heat. So, they can apply greater force to achieve faster results.
- Readily available everywhere
- Effective for major dental corrections
- Colored bands can be fun for kids
- Most noticeable type
- Should avoid certain foods
Patients with considerable structural or cosmetic flaws may need conventional metal braces. However, if your smile doesn’t require that level of correction, then other options may better suit your needs.
Type 2: Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces work the exact same way as traditional braces, combining brackets with wires to apply the necessary force to pull teeth into a new position. The main difference between metal and ceramic braces is their appearance. While traditional braces are generally metallic, ceramic braces are a shade of white. So, they blend in with your teeth more.
- Less noticeable than metal braces
- Same technology that corrects major dental issues
- More expensive than metal braces
- Can stain easily, so may want to avoid even more foods and drinks
So, ceramic braces primarily appeal to patients who want to harness the technical advantages of traditional braces while simultaneously making them less noticeable.
Type 3: Lingual Braces
Lingual braces offer yet another alternative to traditional metal braces. Like ceramic braces, lingual braces use the same principles as metal braces to achieve results, except they’re placed on the backside of teeth. Because lingual braces are behind teeth, they’re harder to see than conventional braces.
- Not externally visible
- Custom-made for each patient
- Pricier than metal or ceramic braces
- More difficult to brush and floss effectively
- Still need to avoid certain types of food
- May not be ideal for extreme overbites
While lingual braces can be trickier than metal braces, they usually have smaller, custom-made brackets. As a result, patients who like the idea of invisible braces but don’t want to have to remember to wear them may want to check them out.
Type 4: Invisible Braces
Unlike the previous types of braces, invisible braces use a different method to achieve results. Instead of using permanent brackets and wires, invisible braces use removable, custom-made dental trays that fit over teeth. Every 14 days or so, the patient swaps out one dental tray for another. Each tray is specifically designed to gently guide teeth into their new position. So, invisible braces are less likely to cause significant pain or irritation.
Since dental trays are made of transparent plastic, they’re virtually undetectable in everyday settings. Most people will only notice invisible braces upon close, careful inspection. The trays can also be removed. So, they can be taken out at mealtimes and for special occasions.
- Virtually undetectable
- Convenient at-home treatment
- Removable when necessary
- No food or drink restrictions
- Recommended for minor and moderate dental issues
- Need to remember to wear them at least 22 hours a day
In short, invisible braces — also known as clear aligners — have many advantages, chiefly their invisibility and convenience. Of course, they require a commitment to remember to wear them. And since dental trays are removable, it is possible to lose them. But clear aligners are a great way to avoid drawing attention to your braces.
And unlike the other options, many top invisible braces companies use teledentistry to offer treatment plans that can be completed 100% at home. Some providers even offer night-only treatment plans if you want an even more discreet solution.
Deciding Which Types of Braces to Consider
The right braces for your smile depend on the severity of your dental issues and how important discretion is to you. While we can’t make the decision for you, we can present the pertinent information in a way that helps you compare. Since many people consider both metal braces and invisible braces, we’ve focused our attention on metal braces vs. invisible braces.
At the end of the day, the choice between metal braces and invisible braces is a personal one. If you’re interested in clear aligners, then you’ll want to compare the best invisible braces companies to evaluate your options.