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Different Types of Braces and How they Work

woman wearing braces

Are you considering braces but feeling overwhelmed by the options available? You’re not alone. When it comes to achieving a beautiful smile, braces have been a go-to orthodontic treatment for decades. Dental braces have come a long way since the days of clunky metal brackets and wires. Today, there are many choices, each with unique benefits and drawbacks. In this article, we will explore the different types of braces available today and how they work, helping you make the best decision for your dental health journey.

Let’s get started.

Dental braces, or orthodontic braces, are devices dentists use to align and straighten teeth and enhance the appearance of a person’s smile. They are typically used to correct orthodontic issues, such as crowded or crooked teeth, gaps between teeth, overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites.

Young girl wearing teeth braces and glasses

Dental Braces consist of several main components that work together. These include:

  • Brackets are small, square-shaped, rectangular metal or ceramic attachments bonded to each tooth’s front surface using a dental adhesive. They act as anchors for the archwires.
  • Archwires are thin metal wires that connect the brackets and provide the force necessary to move the teeth. They are shaped to follow the dental arch and are responsible for exerting pressure on the teeth, causing them to shift into the desired positions.
  • Ligatures are tiny elastic bands that secure the archwire to the brackets. They come in various colours and are changed periodically during adjustment appointments.
  • Rubber bands or elastic ties often correct bite problems or align the upper and lower jaws. They connect hooks or attachments on the brackets and can be worn in various configurations depending on the specific treatment needs.

Dental braces serve multiple purposes, from enhancing oral health to preventing dental injuries. They work by applying force and pressure to the teeth, gradually moving them into their desired positions. Braces can also help prevent gum disease and tooth decay by rectifying misaligned teeth and jaws, facilitating digestion.

Braces are made from various materials, such as stainless steel, ceramic, and even clear plastic. These materials impact the braces’ cost, appearance, and treatment time, making it crucial to weigh the pros and cons before deciding on the right type for you.

Types of Braces

Fixed braces and removable braces are two general types of orthodontic appliances used to correct teeth misalignment and achieve a straighter smile. Here’s a breakdown of each type:

Model Human Jaw Wire Braces Aligners

Fixed Braces

Fixed braces, also known as “traditional braces,” are orthodontic appliances permanently affixed to the teeth throughout the treatment period. They consist of metal brackets, archwires, and elastic bands.

Here are the types of fixed braces — metal, ceramic, lingual, and self-ligating — each type has unique features, advantages, and disadvantages.

Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces, made from high-quality stainless steel, have been used for over a century and continue to be a popular option for orthodontic treatment. They have evolved over time, becoming more compact and comfortable.

These braces can reposition teeth at a faster pace than other types and can even be a stylish accessory with the option to personalise them with coloured bands.

Woman with Blue Braces, brushing teeth


One of the main advantages of metal braces is their increased durability and strength, allowing them to withstand daily use and provide effective results in terms of teeth alignment.

Additionally, metal braces can be a fashionable choice for those who want to express themselves through their orthodontic treatment. With the option to add coloured bands, metal braces can become a fun and stylish accessory, making the treatment experience more enjoyable. They are also less expensive than other type of braces.


Despite their benefits, metal braces do come with some disadvantages. They are noticeable, which may cause some patients to feel self-conscious, and metal parts may irritate the gums and cheeks.

Cleaning metal braces can also be a challenge, as the brackets and wires can make it difficult to maintain oral hygiene. This can lead to staining around the braces and an increased risk of tooth decalcification. To minimise these risks, it is essential to maintain good oral care and visit your practice dentist regularly for check-ups and adjustments.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are chosen by many people who don’t want the noticeable look of metal braces because they have a subtle colour that blends in with teeth. They feature tooth-coloured or clear ceramic brackets and wire, making them less noticeable.

They offer an aesthetically pleasing alternative to metal braces and are as effective in achieving the desired movement of teeth.

Oral Hygiene Braces - Teen Girl Cleaning Teeth


Ceramic braces offer several benefits over traditional metal braces. They are less visible due to their colour, making them a desirable option for some individuals, especially working adults and those who wish to have braces in photographs.

In addition to their aesthetic function, ceramic braces offer a comfortable wearing experience and can correct various teeth alignment issues. This combination of aesthetics and effectiveness makes ceramic braces an attractive option for many patients.


Ceramic braces, although aesthetically pleasing, do come with some drawbacks. They may become discoloured if not maintained. This can be particularly problematic for patients who consume staining foods or drinks or do not practice proper oral hygiene.

Additionally, ceramic braces are less durable than metal braces and prone to breaking or fracturing. This can result in frequent dental visits for repairs and adjustments, increasing the overall cost and treatment duration.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are custom-made brackets specifically designed to fit the contour of the interior surface of each tooth or behind the teeth, making them virtually undetectable to others. The wire in lingual braces joins the brackets together and exerts a force on the teeth to move them into the desired position by pulling from the inside.

Lingual braces are commonly used by adults concerned about traditional braces’ aesthetic impact, particularly in professional settings.

Woman Having Inner Dental Braces Check


Lingual braces provide several benefits. They effectively address most bite problems and can treat mild and complex orthodontic concerns. Their unique combination of invisibility, customisation, and efficiency makes them suitable for those prioritising aesthetics in their treatment and with varying dental needs.


Lingual braces also come with some drawbacks. One of the main challenges associated with these braces is the potential for speech changes and tongue and cheek irritation. Some patients may experience difficulty with speech as a result of the placement of the braces.

Another challenge is that it complicates the requirements for oral hygiene as brackets and wires on the back side of the teeth make them difficult to access and clean. This can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Lingual braces are also expensive due to their installation process and customised brackets.

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces have gained popularity in recent years due to their unique design that eliminates the need for elastic ligatures. Instead, these braces feature brackets with built-in clips or doors that hold the archwires in place. The absence of ligatures reduces friction and helps move a tooth in the desired direction.

Self-ligating braces are available in both ceramic and metal options. They offer shorter treatment periods and fewer orthodontic appointments. Additionally, decreased friction can reduce discomfort and fewer adjustments during treatment.

Smiling girl with retainer


Self-ligating braces can reduce the overall treatment time compared to traditional metal braces. The sliding mechanism allows for efficient tooth movement, leading to faster results. They often require fewer orthodontic adjustments and appointments, which can be convenient for patients.

Another benefit is that self-ligating braces are smaller, which tend to be comfortable and less noticeable than traditional braces, making them more appealing for patients prioritising aesthetics and dental hygiene. They may also cause less discomfort because they exert lighter force on the teeth.


However, self-ligating braces do have some disadvantages. Proper oral hygiene is crucial with self-ligating braces, as the small brackets and tight-fitting components can make it challenging to clean effectively, increasing the risk of plaque buildup and tooth decay.

Another drawback is the risk of clip breakage. If a clip breaks, the damaged component may require additional treatment costs.

Removable Braces

Removable braces are orthodontic appliances that can be taken out by the patient. They are typically made of plastic or acrylic material. Removable braces are commonly used for mild orthodontic issues or as a follow-up treatment after wearing fixed braces.

Let’s take a look at its common type, which is clear aligners.

Clear Aligners (invisalign braces)

Aligners or Invisalign are an orthodontic treatment option that utilises clear, removable aligners as an alternative to traditional braces. These invisible aligners apply uniform pressure to the teeth, providing a more comfortable experience than braces.

The aligners are replaced out every one to two weeks with successive aligners in the series to gradually move the teeth into the desired position.

Clear Aligner Dental Night Guard


Aligners offer numerous advantages. They provide aesthetic benefits, being virtually unnoticeable when in use, and are removable, which makes it easier to maintain good dental hygiene and eating habits. Additionally, patients have reported less discomfort when using clear plastic aligners compared to traditional braces.

Clear aligners are also versatile, capable of treating a variety of orthodontic problems, from simple to complex cases. This makes them popular for patients who prefer an alternative to traditional braces.


One of the main challenges with Invisalign is that they must be worn for at least 20 to 22 hours a day and removed when eating or drinking, brushing, and cleaning the aligners.


Various braces are available to suit different dental needs and preferences. Each type has its unique benefits and drawbacks, making it essential to carefully consider your priorities and consult with a dental professional before making a decision. With the right braces and proper care, you can achieve your desired smile and enhanced oral health.

Embrace the journey to a healthier, more confident you!


Which are common teeth straightening treatments?

For orthodontic treatments, Invisalign clear aligners and traditional metal braces have grown in popularity. They provide enhanced control over tooth movement compared to other options and require fewer dental visits due to their durability and low maintenance.

Therefore, they offer a combination of treatment effectiveness and cost efficiency.

Which style works with faster results?

For quick, efficient correction, self-ligating braces and clear aligners offer expeditious results. On average, treatment with self-ligating braces can take up to a year or less, while clear aligners typically yield quicker results in several months.

Are braces painful?

Some discomfort and soreness are normal, especially when first placed and wires are tightened. However, individuals can take measures to reduce the discomfort, which may help to alleviate the pain.

How long does orthodontic treatment with braces typically take? 

The duration of braces treatment depends on the complexity of the case as well as the specific treatment goals. On average, treatment can range from one to three years. Your practice dentist may provide an accurate estimate after evaluating your teeth.

How does it work?

Braces are a common method to correct misaligned teeth. They work by using metal brackets, archwires, and rubber bands to put gentle pressure on teeth, gradually shifting them into their correct positions.

Over time, the structure of the jaw and teeth can be altered to correct uneven spacing and crookedness.

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