Types of Braces

Modern orthodontia includes a variety of appliances and treatment options, with the goal of achieving the best result in the shortest amount of time and with minimal discomfort.

Fixed Appliances

Girl wearing clear braces

Fixed appliances are worn continuously and are most often used when more aggressive treatment is required. Braces use constant, gentle pressure to move your teeth into proper position over a period of time. There are several kinds of braces and branded treatment systems that fall under the umbrella of fixed appliances. Click on a type of braces or treatment system below to learn more about it.

Metal Braces

Boy Wearing Metal Braces
Metal braces are the oldest and most reliable form of fixed appliance. While the term “metal mouth” may come to mind, today’s metal braces are much smaller and more comfortable than the braces your parents wore (or you wore as a kid). Mini-metal braces take that improvement even further; they utilize even smaller brackets and are more discreet and comfortable as a result.

Metal braces are made of stainless steel and are comprised of two main parts: the brackets that are cemented to the teeth and the archwire that links the brackets to each other. It’s this archwire that applies gentle pressure which slowly moves the teeth into their correct position.

The archwires are usually connected to the brackets with tiny elastics or wires called ligatures; however, self-ligating braces, in which the archwire is connected to the bracket with a door or clip instead of ligatures, are another option. The potential benefits of self-ligating braces include less discomfort, less need for extractions and shorter treatment time. The primary downside to self-ligating braces is that they’re more expensive than their traditional counterparts.

With all of the other orthodontic options available today, it may surprise you to know that metal braces are still the most commonly used type of treatment. Why? Because they are affordable, reliable and treat the widest variety of conditions.

For even more information about traditional metal braces, check out our blog article 4 Facts That Will Change Your Mind About Traditional Metal Braces.

Ceramic Braces

Woman wearing ceramic braces
Ceramic braces are similar to traditional metal appliances in that they use archwires and brackets that are cemented to the teeth. The main difference is that the brackets are clear or tooth-colored, making them much less conspicuous. The silver metal archwires are sometimes colored to disappear against the teeth as well, providing an even more subtle appearance to the braces. As such, ceramic braces are a popular choice among adults seeking orthodontic treatment.

The advantage of ceramic over metal braces is primarily aesthetic. The disadvantages are that they cost more and are more prone to staining.

Lingual Braces

Woman wearing lingual braces
Lingual braces are made of the same stainless steel brackets and wires of traditional metal braces, but are attached to the back of the teeth instead of the front. Lingual braces are another good option for those concerned with the appearance of traditional braces, but they come with their fair share of disadvantages: They are often more expensive, more uncomfortable at first and more difficult to clean than front-facing braces; additionally, lingual braces aren’t appropriate for treating more severe cases.

Damon System®

woman wearing clear and boy wearing metal Damon System braces
Damon System® braces are appropriate for kids, teens and adults alike. They are self ligating and are comprised of archwires and either ceramic or metal brackets, just like traditional braces. But that is where the similarities end: Damon System® is unique in that it takes into account the appearance and structure of the whole face, not just the teeth. While these braces may cost more than traditional appliances, they offer many potential advantages over them, including being easier to clean, faster treatment times, less discomfort and fewer adjustments required.

Check out this blog article we wrote to see some before-and-after photos and to learn more about the Damon System®.

6 Month Smiles®

man wearing 6 month smile braces
6 Month Smiles® is another modern treatment option we offer here at Vancouver Orthodontic Specialists, PLLC, and is one of the few that may actually cost less than traditional braces. The reason is in the name—6 Month Smiles® offers shorter treatment times than most other options, with an average of 6 months vs. 12 for Invisalign® (for adult treatment) and 18-24 months for traditional braces. Please keep in mind that these are just averages and your actual treatment time will depend on the severity and complexity of your case.

In addition to being a rapid and affordable treatment option, 6 Month Smiles® uses clear brackets and tooth-colored wires, so your braces will be discreet. It should be noted that this system isn’t intended for children under 16 or those who need bite correction or have more severe issues that need to be addressed.

Click here for more information about 6 Month Smiles®, and here for before-and-after photos.


Removable Appliances

Man holding clear aligner removable orthodontic appliance

The convenience of removable appliances such as clear aligners make them an increasingly popular orthodontic treatment option. Click on a type of removable appliance below for more information.

Invisalign® and Invisalign®Teen

Girl wearing Invisalign clear aligners to straighten teeth
Invisalign® and Invisalign®Teen utilize a clear aligner system to straighten teeth.

Because Invisalign® is so popular with adults and teens alike, we’ve written several blog posts and have a dedicated information page on the subject. Click here to go to our main Invisalign® page for more detailed information, as well as links to our supplemental articles on the subject.

Retainers

Woman holding Hawley and clear Essix type removable retainers
While retainers are most often used to keep teeth in place after orthodontic treatment with another appliance, spring retainers are sometimes utilized to straighten teeth when very little movement is needed.

Our dedicated Retention page provides more information on retainers, as do the articles Types of Retainers and Pros and Cons of Each and Orthodontic Retainer FAQ. Click on any or all of the links for everything you could want to know about retainers.


Other Appliances

forsus spring orthodontic treatment
Skeletal expanders, jaw correctors, and Forsus Springs are some of the devices that may be used alone or in conjunction with other appliances in the course of your orthodontic treatment. Which appliance used and for how long will depend on your unique individual treatment needs.

Now that you know a bit more about the types of braces and other appliances used in orthodontics, contact us to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Irwin; he and his knowledgeable team will assist you in choosing the treatment option that will yield optimal results for you or your child.

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