The Different Types of Dental Braces

Teen boy holding his clear aligner

When you imagine dental braces, you’re probably imagining a series of metal brackets attached to the front of each tooth, joined together with a thin metal wire and bound with elastic bands. Those are the most common type of orthodontic braces for kids and adults, but they’re far from the only option. If you’ve been putting off orthodontic work due to aesthetic or functional concerns, an alternative type of braces could give you the flexibility you need to streamline your smile without negatively impacting your life.

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces

Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and archwires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces are made from the same materials as traditional braces. However, self-ligating braces do not require the use of elastics, meaning fewer appointments and less friction being placed on the tooth. Self-ligating braces come with traditional metal, ceramic, or clear brackets. They are the same size as metal braces, but use a specialized clip in place of elastics to help the archwire guide teeth into place. The clip helps reduce the amount of pressure being placed on the tooth, and requires fewer adjustments because there are no elastics to replace.


Ceramic braces are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. For this reason, ceramic braces are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns. While they are visually less prominent, they do require more attention to oral hygiene as ceramic braces are larger and are more brittle than their metal counterparts. For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth.


Invisalign clear aligner

Clear aligners are a series of invisible, removable, and comfortable acrylic trays that straighten your teeth like braces. Not only are the aligners invisible, they are removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment, plus brushing and flossing are less of a hassle. The aligners are comfortable and have no metal to cause mouth abrasions during treatment.


Lingual braces are hidden behind the teeth and are therefore “invisible” when you smile. Lingual braces are 100% customized to match the shape of your teeth; the metal appliances are created uniquely for you. Lingual braces are a very reasonable option for athletes, models, actors/actresses, musicians who play wind instruments, and adult professionals.

Orthodontic appliances have come a long way in recent decades, providing more options than ever before. Our team of pediatric dental and orthodontic specialists are ready to help you find the right option to fit your lifestyle.

It can be challenging to navigate all of the different types of orthodontic wires, brackets, and braces on offer, but your orthodontic team at Families First Pediatrics is ready to answer all of your questions and help you down the path to a new smile.

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