Common medical questions and answers through blogs and articles

Types of Braces

The trend today is toward embracing good dental health through natural choices – shunning fast or fried foods in favor of those with nutritious value, forsaking the couch and big TV for a walking or biking regimen.  This is because Americans are living longer, and they want to enjoy those extra years in good health.

Good dental health and keeping your own teeth longer is fast becoming an objective as well.  We now realize that with a little TLC to our teeth, they might last us the rest of our days, and we’ll not need to resort to dentures or partial plates.

Braces for good dental health

Thus, the trend is toward correcting any abnormalities or misalignment with respect to severe alignment issues, such as severe malocclusions, or “bad bites” or realignment of the jaw, all by using non-surgical procedures.

For years, dental braces were mostly worn by tweens – ages 10 to 14.  This is an awkward age, made more awkward by a mouthful of braces.  But braces are more common today – nearly four million people in the United States are wearing braces at any one time, according to the Pennsylvania Dental Association.

There are many varieties of dental braces today – the ceramic clear and aesthetically pleasing or the stainless steel “workhorse” are the most popular.

No more “metal mouth” or “brace face”

While dental braces used to be all metal, you will find many different types of braces today.

If you’re considering braces for yourself or your child, you have many options. Your orthodontist will help you make the best choice based on the condition of your teeth.  Here is a brief summary of each type of braces commonly used in an orthodontia regimen.

  • Traditional metal braces are made of stainless steel brackets and wires. They resemble the old-fashioned stainless steel braces of yesteryear for which the term “metal mouth” became the moniker for many poor teens.  The major difference is that years ago the metal wrapped around each individual tooth and today’s braces are merely placed onto the tooth (like a dot) and are much smaller than their former counterparts.  The metal hooks are wired together and are tightened at each visit.  A relatively new innovation are the heat-activated arch wires which move your teeth as they respond to your body’s heat.  It helps the orthodontic procedure go much quicker and considerably less painfully than the older styles.  Metal braces are durable and the least expensive but you are limited as to some foods… sticky and hard foods are out of the question during a traditional metal braces regimen.
  • Ceramic braces are similar to stainless steel metal braces in shape and size.  They move the teeth just as quickly as the metal variety, but are less obtrusive.   Many adults opt for this type of braces since tooth-colored or clear ceramic brackets are used and they blend more naturally into your teeth.  In some cases, tooth-colored wires are utilized which aid in concealing the braces and for a more aesthetic look.  But, beware that they stain easily.   If you are self-conscious about your looks, ceramic braces are your best option.  For this luxury, however, they are pricier than their stainless steel counterparts.
  • Lingual braces do a better job of concealing those braces, thus keeping your orthodontia regimen your secret.  In this type of braces, the same type of metal brackets and wires used in traditional braces are utilized, but they are fastened on the inside of your teeth to keep them hidden from your smile and the world.  Likewise, the lingual braces cost more than the traditional metal braces for the privilege of keeping the hardware concealed, however, lingual braces are less effective for severe cases, and may be more uncomfortable and harder to adjust to than traditional metal brackets.
  • Invisalign is a rather radical orthodontia treatment compared to more traditional types of braces.  The treatment consists of a series of customized, clear BPA-free plastic trays (aligners) which are custom fitted to your dental needs.  There are no wires or brackets and the tray may be removed for eating and teeth brushing as opposed to more traditional braces that remain in place 24/7 throughout the entire regimen.  The trays are typically replaced every two weeks to ensure your teeth continue moving in the desired direction.  This teeth correction method is the priciest of the orthodontia treatment, sometimes running between $4,500.00 to $5,000.00.  Like lingual braces, Invisalign is only available for teens and adults.  Treatment may take longer than traditional metal braces.


  • Other braces may utilize nickel-titanium or copper-titanium for the brackets and wires. These types of metals tend to last longer and need fewer adjustments than traditional stainless steel wires.

In conjunction with most dental braces, tiny rubber bands are used to gradually move the teeth into proper position.

If you’ve been meaning to get braces to make your smile picture perfect, why not consider contacting a dental office?

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