Braces (aka Fixed Appliances) have been helping orthodontists straighten teeth since the early 1900's and according to some accounts even earlier than that! As dentistry's oldest recognized specialty, Orthodontics has experienced many different philosophical and technological advances and "braces" are no exception. The basic principles haven't changed since the last century, however. A bracket (brace) is a way to apply a force to a tooth that is provided by an archwire (the metal wire connecting all of the braces together) or a rubber band (elastic).. Braces come in all different shapes and sizes. Some look like mini-footballs and some are a very clear crystalline structure that is nearly invisible! Each specific type of bracket (brace) has its own tradeoffs and some will perform certain functions better than others. Regardless of the type, all braces can help an orthodontist to move teeth in a very specific manner to create your dream smile!
TRADITIONAL (TWIN) BRACKETS
Twin brackets are the most common type of braces and are what most people think of when they imagine another person with braces. Typically a colorful tie holds the archwire into the individual brackets and small adjustments (or archwire changes) are done every 3 to 8 weeks depending on the current stage of treatment. These brackets can be metallic, gold-colored, or clear and vary in size and design slightly.
Clear braces are nearly "invisible" to the naked eye. Most people will have to stare pretty hard to see that a patient is wearing clear braces. Clear ties can be used to hold a tooth-colored archwire in place and this appliance can be nearly invisible to a casual onlooker. Ask us if this is the right appliance for you!
SELF-LIGATING BRACKETS (PASSIVE OR ACTIVE)
Self-ligating braces are a specific type of appliance that do not require the special colored-ties to hold the archwire into the individual bracket itself. If requested these ties can still be used to add a certain "pop" of color during treatment. This type of appliance has been shown to have some modest improvements in helping patients keep their teeth clean during treatment as well as being slightly faster at the initial stages of alignment and helping to broaden (aka develop) dental arches. A broader dental arch (all things being equal) has a better chance of accommodating all of the teeth and therefore reduces the potential need for extractions or other types of more invasive treatment.
There are many different types of self-ligating braces both active and passive. Each has their own proponents and detractors and each has their strengths and weaknesses. Ask us if this type of appliance is a good fit for you!