What Are the Different Types of Braces?

A pair of braces can set you back anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000, depending on the type and materials your orthodontist recommends.

In some cases, you can choose cheaper materials to bring the cost down. In other instances, you might need a particular type of braces designed to correct specific dental issues. The braces you end up with might also depend on whether the costs are covered by insurance or you’re paying out of pocket.

If you’re confused about the difference between metal braces and clear aligners, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our guide to the most common braces options.

Different Types of Braces

Metal Braces

Did you know that metal braces, also known as traditional braces, have been around for over one hundred years?

Metal braces are applied to your teeth and then connected by a wire. The wire is attached to the metal using tiny elastics. If you had braces as a kid, it was probably these.

Maybe you remember all the trendy neon-colored bands you could choose from? You probably also remember how bulky (and perhaps embarrassing) they were. Well, that’s a thing of the past.

Today, metal braces are more comfortable, lighter, and work quicker than ever before. They’re still predominantly fitted on children because they’re one of the most effective corrective options for the lowest price.

They’re also great for children because, unlike other options, they’re fitted to the teeth permanently. There’s no need to remind your child to put their retainer in. However, parents must take care to ensure their kids observe excellent oral hygiene practices and are careful with what and how they eat while wearing braces.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces look and function similarly to traditional braces. The difference is that they’re crafted from tooth-colored enamel. They’re a more discreet option, so they’re perfect for people who care a lot about their outward appearance.

Because they’re a little bit more expensive than metal braces, they’re more often fitted on adults and older teenagers than children.

Ceramic braces are fitted to the front of the teeth and tightened using wires and plain colored bands like metal braces. They can correct almost any misalignment issues and do far quicker than other less visible options.

There are a few downsides to ceramic braces, too. They’re a bit bulkier than their metal counterparts, and coffee lovers might find their favorite morning cup stains them. In addition, they can be uncomfortable to wear, causing sometimes painful gum and cheek abrasions.

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces are another type of misalignment correction in the same vein as traditional or ceramic braces.

They also use wire and braces to move your teeth into a preferred position gradually.

However, unlike traditional braces, they use things called “doors” (or sometimes clips) to secure the wire. Some dentists find that this reduces correction timeframes, requires fewer adjustments (and therefore fewer dentist visits), and is faster to apply in the first place.

Self-ligating braces are the perfect solution for patients who:

  • Have a sensitive mouth or teeth
  • Don’t like prolonged discomfort
  • Are impatient in the dentist chair
  • Don’t practice good dental hygiene

If your orthodontist recommends self-ligating braces, you’ll be able to choose between metal, clear, or ceramic fittings.

You can also choose between Passive Self-Ligating Braces (PSLB) and Active Self-Ligating Braces (ASLB). The difference between these two options is that PSLB uses a thinner archwire and widely spaced brackets.

Lingual Braces

If you’re an adult patient or someone who’s concerned with the bulky look of traditional braces, clinics like this local dentist might recommend you try lingual braces.

Lingual braces sit behind the teeth instead of in front of them like metal, ceramic, or self-ligating braces. This means they’re close to invisible while still providing the adjustment power needed to fix almost every orthodontic issue.

They do have a few downsides.

For one, it might be challenging to find an orthodontist that can fit you with lingual braces. They’re an uncommon system because they require a particular set of skills to create and fit. This procedure isn’t taught in most dental schools.

And because they sit behind your teeth, they can irritate your tongue or even cause temporary speech impediments like lisps. However, after just a few weeks of wearing these braces, you’ll become used to them, and unpleasant side effects will disappear.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners have been growing in popularity since around the turn of the 21st century. You might have heard of one of the most popular brands: Invisalign. In fact, their products are so popular that they’re almost synonymous with clear aligners.

The system consists of between 18 and 50 plastic trays specially designed to fit your mouth. You take them in and out every day, and they progressively move your teeth into the desired alignment.

But why are clear aligners surging in popularity? It’s because they’re:

  • Quicker to fit
  • Easily removable
  • Basically invisible
  • More comfortable

You can keep up a regular home oral hygiene routine with them. And you usually don’t need to go back to the orthodontist for as many checkups as you would with traditional braces.

Orthodontists often recommend clear aligners to adults whose teeth have shifted slightly, despite wearing braces as children. They’re also great for patients with minor misalignment issues: overbites, open bites, and overlapping teeth.

The downsides to clear aligners are that they can stain, they’re pricey, they won’t fix severe alignment problems, and you can sometimes forget to wear the tray.

Choosing the Right Braces for You

Do you feel more confident to schedule that appointment with your orthodontist now? Remember, while it’s essential to go into your braces consultation informed, it pays to listen to the doctor’s recommendations, too. After all, they have years of experience in the industry.

For more advice on all things dental, be sure to check out the other articles on our blog.

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