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Types of Braces: Metal Braces vs Ceramic Braces vs Invisible Braces

There are three main types of braces: metal braces, ceramic braces, and invisible braces, and within each type, there are different forms of teeth braces.

Traditional Metal Braces

Metal braces are brackets made of a stainless steel alloy. The brackets adhere to the tooth surface, and the brackets and metal archwires are held together by rubber bands or ligature wires. Metal braces use the elasticity of the archwires to apply pressure to the teeth, thus allowing for alignment, but you need to visit dentists regularly to replace the archwires.

Metal Braces

Advantages of Traditional Braces

  1. Traditional metal braces have been used for a long time, and doctors are skilled in their operation.
  2. Applicable to more situations, it can correct various dental problems.
  3. Metal material is stronger and less prone to damage.
  4. Metal braces cost less, with a high cost performance ratio.

Disadvantages of Traditional Metal Braces

  1. The metal is exposed, affecting the aesthetics of the individual.
  2. The brackets on traditional metal braces have strong friction with the archwires, which will bring you an obvious foreign body feeling and even cause mouth ulcers and other symptoms.
  3. Metal braces have many small wires wrapped around the brackets, which tend to cause food residue, which is not convenient for the wearer to clean the teeth.
  4. When your teeth bite into something hard objects such as ribs and fried chicken, the brackets may fall out.

Self-ligating Metal Braces

Self-ligating braces differ from traditional models only in metal brackets. The self-ligating metal braces have a locking valve, which eliminates the need for ligature wires to tie the archwires, making it easier to change the archwires and preventing the ligature wires from scratching the mouth. The self-ligating brackets are free of rubber bands and friction from the ligature wire, which increases the freedom and flexibility of the sulcus archwire, speeds up tooth movement and shortens the orthodontic time.

Self-ligating Braces

Advantages of Self-ligating Braces

  1. The self-ligating brackets do not need to be wound with small steel wires, so the friction is lower than the traditional model, which reduces oral discomfort.
  2. Self-ligating braces are smoother, less likely to cause food residue, and less difficult to clean.
  3. The brackets are easy to open, which can reduce the difficulty of changing the archwire.
  4. The smooth interior of self-ligating metal braces can greatly reduce the resistance of archwire rebound and speed up the orthodontic speed.

Disadvantages of Self-ligating Braces

  1. Metal ligating braces are also more conspicuous and affect the aesthetics.
  2. The price of self-ligating metal braces is higher than traditional braces.

Lingual Braces

The special feature of lingual braces is that the brackets are placed on the lingual side of the teeth instead of the outer surface, which can achieve a completely invisible effect in daily life and is very suitable for people with high aesthetic requirements.

lingual braces

Advantages of Lingual Braces

  1. The brackets are adhered to the inner side of the teeth, achieving a fully invisible effect and a higher degree of aesthetics than invisible braces.
  2. Lingual braces can be used to correct a wide range of malocclusions.
  3. It can greatly reduce the length of orthodontic treatment.

Disadvantages of Lingual Braces

  1. The lingual braces require a high level of skill from the dentist, and if the doctor is not good enough, the orthodontic effect will be seriously affected.
  2. The metal brackets and archwires are located on the lingual side, which can easily irritate the tongue, affect speech pronunciation, and make the wearer feel less comfortable.
  3. The metal brackets are located on the inner side of the teeth, making it easy to leave food residue and cleaning more difficult.
  4. The price of lingual braces is high.

Gold Braces

gold braces

Gold braces are more dazzling and fashionable with gold plating on the brackets and wires of traditional metal braces. It has similar advantages and disadvantages to traditional braces, while it is more expensive but more friendly to people with metal allergies.

Ceramic Braces

Similar to metal braces, there are two types of ceramic braces: traditional and self-ligating. Clear ceramic braces are made of a new glass-ceramic material that resembles the color of the teeth and provides an invisible effect from a certain distance.

ceramic braces

Advantages of Ceramic Braces

  1. The ceramic brackets are naturally beige, similar to the original teeth, and not easily noticeable by others.
  2. The orthodontic principle is the same as the traditional model, and the doctor is more skilled in handling it.
  3. It is not easily stained by food.

Disadvantages of Clear Ceramic Braces

  1. The brackets are thicker, and you may experience a strong foreign body sensation in your mouth.
  2. Ceramic brackets are slightly less hard and may break when they encounter hard objects, which may damage the oral cavity lining.
  3. Ceramic braces are less controllable than traditional braces, have less tension, and take longer to correct.
  4. It is easy to cause food residue and increase the difficulty of oral cleaning.

Invisible Braces

Invisible braces use bracketless invisible orthodontic technology, which combines the clear compression pattern aligner concept with advanced three-dimensional digital technology. Modern sophisticated 3D dental scanning and 3D printing technologies provide precise prototypes of dental molds for invisible braces, which are then fabricated from materials such as medical polymers or elastomeric plastics.

Invisible Braces

Advantages of Invisible Braces

  1. The braces are transparent, so they are not easily noticed by others.
  2. Clear braces can be removed anytime, so you can eat freely after removing them without worrying about damaging them when eating bone-like foods.
  3. The dentist will customize a series of braces for you at once, and you can wear the new ones yourself at your doctor’s request, reducing the number of visits.
  4. Orthodontics is more efficient and shorter.

Disadvantages of Transparent Braces

  1. Drinking hot water while wearing invisible braces may cause deformation and damage
  2. Clear braces are easily stained by colored foods and drinks, such as curry.
  3. It can solve the problem of minor dentition deformity, but the correction of severe dentition deformity is slow.
  4. The price is higher than traditional and ceramic braces.

Types of Retainer

The main types of retainers are metal retainer (Hawley retainer), lingual retainer, and invisible retainer.

Metal Retainer/Hawley Retainer

metal retainer/hawley retainer

Metal Retainer relies on a large lingual abutment to fit closely to the teeth’ lingual surface and stabilize the teeth’ position. At the same time, the hyperbolic labial arch in the anterior region prevents the anterior teeth from shifting labially. You can remove the Hawley Retainer for easy cleaning, but because the retainer wire is on the outside of the tooth, the wire tends to show when you open your mouth.

Lingual Retainer

Lateral Lingual Retainer

The lingual retainer is glued to the lingual side of your teeth and cannot be removed by yourself, so it is also called a permanent retainer, which is more discreet but can be difficult to clean.

Invisible Retainer

Invisible Retainer

Clear retainers are similar to invisible braces and can achieve an invisible look. It is relatively affordable but is more likely to break or deform.


There are many types of braces. Metal braces are the most affordable, and invisible braces are becoming more popular, but there is no such thing as the best or the worst. What suits you is the best. If you want to straighten your teeth, you should consult a dentist at a professional dental facility and let the doctor develop an orthodontic plan for you. It is also important to wear retainers after orthodontic treatment to prevent your teeth from going back to the way they were before.

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