What kinds of braces do orthodontists use?

Patients frequently arrive at my Phoenix orthodontic office wanting to know what options are available nowadays for treatment with braces.  While there are many different manufacturers of orthodontic products in the U.S., most of them offer the same categories of braces with very minor variations.

Standard Metal Braces– This is the most common type of braces with our younger patients and by far the most common in general.  They offer excellent strength and durability while sacrificing a little bit on esthetics.  This type of braces is also usually the most cost-effective.

clear-bracesClear braces or “Invisible” braces – This type of braces is often confused with Invisalign, which is a very different treatment from clear braces.  Clear braces are made of porcelain (similar to the material used to make tooth crowns or caps) and are the most popular option with adult patients who are not candidates for Invisalign treatment.  Many orthodontic offices charge slightly more for this type of braces due to the higher cost of the material.  It is an excellent option for patients looking for excellent treatment results while maintaining the highest possible esthetics.

Lingual braces– This type of braces is placed on the inside of your teeth (near your tongue) instead of the outside of the your teeth.  The draw of this type of braces is that they are literally invisible to the casual observer.  However, you may sacrifice some comfort for this method of treatment compared to other available options and this type of braces also tends to be one of the most expensive due to the additional instruments, wires, and materials that must be used with this type of braces.

Self-ligating braces– There are both clear and metal versions of this type of braces.  The difference between self-ligating braces and standard metal and clear braces is that self-ligating braces do not require ties (the colors that kids choose to hold the wire against the brace).  These braces are sometimes thought to be a  little easier to keep clean and you don’t have to worry about discolored ties. It was once believed that this type of braces reduced the amount of time you would need to spend in treatment by reducing friction.  However, there have been several studies published that have shown that assumption to be false.

Invisalign- Invisalign is actually a series of clear plastic aligners – not braces – that are formed to the teeth.  Each successive set of aligners is worn for approximately two weeks and will gradually align the teeth.  While there are limitations to what aligners can do compared to braces, for the right  candidate Invisalign can be an excellent treatment option.