Types of Braces: Exploring Orthodontic Treatment Options

Welcome to the fantastic world of braces! With modern advancements in orthodontics, there’s a wide variety of tools and techniques we use to treat your unique dental needs. As a patient or someone who’s just intrigued by the dental world, familiarizing yourself with these tools is quite interesting and beneficial.

There are several types of braces to choose from. Briefly, some popular options include traditional metal braces which are effective and affordable, ceramic braces known for their aesthetic appeal, and clear aligners like Invisalign that offer discretion and convenience while straightening your teeth.

Understanding the types of braces available will empower you to make informed decisions about your orthodontic journey. Enjoy exploring!

Traditional (Fixed) Braces

Traditional or conventional braces, commonly known as “fixed” braces, are a popular orthodontic treatment option. Fixed braces are attached to your teeth and can only be removed by a dental professional. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of traditional fixed braces.

Metallic Braces

Stainless Steel Braces: These are the classic braces that come to mind when you think of orthodontic treatment. Stainless steel brackets are cemented onto each tooth and connected by a wire that applies pressure to gradually align your teeth. They are a reliable and affordable option. You can even personalize them with colored bands.

Gold Braces: If you want to make a statement with your braces, gold braces might be for you. They’re made of a gold-plated stainless steel material, offering a more aesthetically pleasing look. Their main benefit is that they don’t contain any nickel, which makes them ideal for people with nickel allergies.

Tooth-Colored Braces

Ceramic Braces: If you’re looking for a more discreet option, consider ceramic braces. These braces use tooth-colored brackets made from ceramic materials, which blend with the color of your teeth. The wire is usually still metal, though it could be colored or coated to make it less noticeable. Ceramic braces are mostly as effective as metallic braces, but they may require more care because they can be prone to staining and breaking.

Sapphire Braces: Sapphire braces are similar to ceramic braces but use transparent monocrystalline sapphire brackets, making them even more difficult to detect. They work as effectively as other fixed braces, but they are among the most expensive options.

Traditional ceramic braces with white-coated wire and ligatures

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces are a popular option for adults who opt for conventional braces. This is because they don’t need elastic ties to keep the wire in place, making them an extremely hygienic and discreet option. Some of the most popular brands of self-ligating braces are Damon, In-Ovation and Empower.

Passive Self-Ligating Braces: These braces use a special type of bracket that has a sliding mechanism to hold the wire in place, reducing friction and allowing for more efficient tooth movement. They can be made of metal or ceramic material. Passive self-ligating braces can result in shorter treatment times and fewer dental visits for adjustments.

Active Self-Ligating Braces: Like passive self-ligating braces, active self-ligating braces also feature a sliding mechanism. However, they use a clip or spring-like device to maintain wire tension, providing more control during the treatment process. They can also be made from metal or ceramic material.

Metal self-ligating braces

Invisible Braces

Invisible braces are a popular alternative to traditional metal braces, as they offer a more discreet way to straighten your teeth. This section will cover two types of invisible braces: lingual braces and clear aligners.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces work similarly to traditional braces but are placed behind your teeth, making them practically invisible to others. They are the only type of truly invisible braces and are ideal for adults in need for the most discreet treatment option.

Lingual braces use metal brackets and wires, just like their conventional counterparts, to gradually shift your teeth into the desired position. However, both the brackets and wire are custom made, offering the orthodontist a high level of control.

Some well-known brands that offer lingual braces include Incognito™ and Harmony. Incognito™ braces are made from gold alloy and are designed to be comfortable and effective.

Harmony lingual braces use a self-ligating system, which means that the brackets have a built-in clip that holds the wire in place without the need for elastic or metal ties.

Both options are effective for treating a wide range of orthodontic issues, including complex cases. However, they may be a bit more expensive than traditional braces, and some people find them slightly less comfortable due to their positioning and interference with the tongue.

Lingual braces

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are another type of invisible braces that use removable, custom-fitted plastic trays to straighten your teeth.

These aligners are nearly invisible, making them an excellent choice for those seeking a more discreet orthodontic treatment. Moreover, they can be removed for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing, which offers an added level of convenience.

Some of the most popular clear aligner brands include:

  • Invisalign: A pioneer in the clear aligner industry, Invisalign has been around for over two decades and is backed by extensive research and real-world results. Invisalign treatment plans are overseen by a dentist or orthodontist who has completed specific Invisalign training.
  • ClearCorrect: ClearCorrect is a clear aligner brand that uses a series of clear plastic aligners to straighten teeth. Like Invisalign, ClearCorrect aligners are nearly invisible and removable. ClearCorrect aligners are made in the United States and are often a more affordable option than Invisalign.
  • Byte: Byte is a newer clear aligner brand that uses a proprietary HyperByte technology to deliver high-frequency vibrations to teeth during treatment. This technology is designed to help teeth move more quickly and comfortably. Byte aligners are also made from a BPA-free plastic and are nearly invisible. Byte offers both at-home and in-office treatment options.
  • Candid: Candid is a clear aligner brand that uses a remote monitoring system to track patient progress during treatment. Patients take an impression of their teeth at home and then receive a series of clear aligners in the mail. Candid aligners are made from a BPA-free plastic and are designed to gradually shift teeth into their desired position. Candid also offers in-person consultations at their Candid Studios locations.

Each of these brands has its unique features, and the choice will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Consult with a dental professional to determine which invisible braces option is the best fit for your orthodontic goals.

Invisalign tray


You might be wondering about retainers after getting your braces off or planning your orthodontic treatment. Well, no worries! Here’s a brief overview of retainers to help you with that.

Retainers play a crucial role in keeping your teeth aligned and maintaining the hard work done by your braces or aligners. They’re custom-made appliances, usually worn after orthodontic treatment to prevent those perfectly aligned teeth from shifting back to their original positions.

There are two basic types of retainers to consider: removable and permanent. Let’s take a look at them:

  • Removable retainers: These retainers typically come in two different styles, Hawley and clear retainers. Hawley retainers consist of an acrylic or hard plastic plate connected by a metal wire, while clear retainers (often called Essix retainers) are made of transparent plastic and fit snugly over your teeth. Both Hawley and Essix retainers are easily removed when eating and brushing.
  • Permanent retainers: Also known as bonded retainers, these are thin metal wires that are glued or bonded to the backside of your front teeth. They are invisible when you smile and serve as a constant support to keep the teeth in their new position. Their main disadvantage is that they do require extra care when brushing and flossing to avoid plaque buildup.
Hawley retainer

Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontic appliances are tools used by orthodontists to help correct dental issues and improve the alignment of your teeth and jaw, in addition to braces or clear aligners. They come in various forms, serving different purposes to ensure that you achieve the perfect smile.

Some of these appliances are fixed, meaning they are attached to your teeth and cannot be removed during the treatment period. For example, expanders are fixed orthodontic appliances that aim to widen your upper jaw, making more room for your teeth to fit properly.

On the other hand, there are removable appliances like functional appliances. These can be taken out at specific times, such as while eating or cleaning your teeth. They focus on adjusting the position of your jaw to treat various bite issues in younger patients. Examples include the Twin Block, removable expanders, and orthodontic trainers.

Your orthodontist may also use miniscrews in addition to your braces treatment, to help correct a wide range of orthodontic problems. The purpose of miniscrews is to provide additional anchorage for orthodontic appliances, allowing for more precise and efficient tooth movement. Miniscrews are inserted under local anesthesia and easily removed once treatment is complete.

In summary, orthodontic appliances come in both fixed and removable forms, each with their specific purposes, and can be used separate from braces or complementary to braces. They work to align your teeth, correct bite issues, close gaps, and ultimately improve your oral health.

Types of Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment is a specialized area of dentistry that focuses on correcting misaligned teeth and jaws. There are different types of orthodontic treatments available, depending on age and the specific needs of the patient.

Teeth Alignment

When you think of different types of orthodontic treatment, teeth alignment is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Teeth alignment can be achieved with both traditional and invisible braces and aims to correct all the dental and bite problems a patient may have.

This includes correcting crowded teeth, closing gaps, moving teeth forward or back and correcting the bite through elastics. Full teeth alignment and bite correction typically takes between 12 to 24 months depending on the severity of the case.

Minor Corrections

If you only need minor adjustments to a few teeth, there are simple options available. Partial braces like the “social six”, or a few trays of clear aligners are a quick way to treat a pesky tooth that’s rotated or overlapped.

Many patients who have worn braces before decide to get a second round of orthodontic treatment to correct minor relapse, since it’s easier and cheaper to correct than a full set of braces.

Another option is using the Hawley retainer as an active device to correct minor tooth movements and then hold them in place.

Jaw Misalignment Correction

Sometimes, it’s necessary to correct jaw misalignment as part of orthodontic treatment. This can be achieved through various methods in early childhood: using a headgear or a facemask used to be popular options to restrain or encourage jaws to grow in the desired directions.

For older patients, the main jaw correction method involved orthognathic surgery, which is recommended when non-surgical treatments are unable to achieve the desired results.


Palatal expanders are orthodontic devices used to widen the upper jaw. They work by applying gentle and consistent pressure on the teeth and jawbone, making space for teeth to grow in properly. Palatal expanders are typically used in younger patients whose jaws are still growing, and can help prevent overcrowding or narrow arches later on.

Interceptive Treatment

Interceptive treatment, also known as early intervention, identifies and corrects problems in the early stages to prevent more severe issues later in life. This treatment can include appliances like space maintainers or lip bumpers, which hold open a space for adult teeth to grow in after the early loss of baby teeth.

Serial extraction of baby teeth is another method of creating room for the permanent teeth to grow in the correct order.

Myobrace habit trainer

Habit Correction

Habit correction is an essential part of orthodontics that helps young patients break bad habits affecting the growth of their teeth and jaws. Habit appliances such as tongue cribs or spikes help curb negative behaviors like thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting.

Removable habit appliances made out of soft silicone, such as Myobrace trainers, are becoming increasingly popular among our young patients. They help with correcting mouth breathing and guiding the growth of permanent teeth.

Another category of protective appliances include devices like mouthguards, which protect teeth from trauma during sports or night guards for those who grind their teeth while sleeping.

Ultimately, the key to achieving a confident, healthy smile with orthodontic treatment is to choose the right appliance for your individual needs and follow instructions carefully.

Whether you opt for traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces, clear aligners, expanders, or retainers, maintaining good oral hygiene and being patient and dedicated throughout the process is crucial.

Whether you’re new to braces or a braces veteran, taking care of your teeth and gums during orthodontic treatment is crucial. That’s why I’ve put together a list of orthodontist-recommended tools that will make caring for your braces a breeze:

  • An awesome mid-range electric toothbrush. Rotating electric brushes are much more effective, in my opinion, than sonic ones. You can keep your teeth white by using whitening replacement heads.
  • A countertop water flosser to blast out food debris between teeth. I know handheld models are tempting, but you’ll need a lot of water. You can almost replace flossing with this and your gums will be healthier.
  • Braces accessories to get into all the nooks and crannies: straight or angled interdental brushes, floss threaders, orthodontic wax or silicone. For pain management, have gel ice packs handy, Orajel, and Mouth Magic (a cool soothing solution for mouth sores).
  • For clear aligner patients, a tool like PUL helps both remove and seat your aligner or retainer. Don’t forget to use a cleaning product like crystals to keep your trays fresh and hygienic.

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