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Different Types of Braces for Teeth: Removable, Clear, Fixed and More

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If you have crooked or misaligned teeth, you may be considering getting braces. But, there are so many different types of braces out there, which ones are right for you?

Crooked teeth can have a really detrimental effect on your confidence, but then again, so can the idea of having a mouthful of metal train tracks. Don't let that put you off though; there are different options, some more subtle than others.

types of braces
There are many different types of braces to choose from

We will discuss all kinds of braces so you can get a better idea of what may suit you and your dental needs, including:

  • Traditional metal braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Ceramic braces
  • Self-ligating braces
  • Invisible braces
  • Clear aligners
  • Orthodontic appliances

Teeth straightening treatments and technology have come a long way since the original train track braces. There are all sorts of braces to choose from now, but the best ones for you may come down to your dental circumstances.

Let's get started with the 2 main types of braces.

What are the different types of teeth braces?

There are 2 main types of teeth braces for adults and kids: fixed and removable. Fixed braces can only be removed by a dental professional, whereas removable braces can be taken out by the patient at any point.

Fixed braces consist of brackets that are cemented to each tooth and are joined by wires that apply pressure to gradually align teeth. With traditional metal braces, elastic bands also help move teeth into the desired position.

Removable braces are invisible braces, also known as clear aligners, which are custom-made plastic trays that align your teeth. Generally, clear aligners involve a 3D scan or molds at the start of treatment so that trays can be made. A dentist or orthodontist monitors every step of the process so that they can make sure everything is moving in the right direction.

Fixed braces

The most well-known fixed brace is the traditional metal brace that consists of a system of stainless steel brackets and wires to straighten teeth. They are most commonly worn by children and teens, but with the advances in technology, braces are becoming more popular with adults.

metal braces
You can jazz metal braces up with coloured bands

If you are wondering how to know if you need braces, read our article or book an appointment to speak with a dentist and get your teeth accessed.

Metal braces

Metal braces, also known as train tracks, traditional braces, or conventional braces are the oldest and most well-known type of braces. And, although there have been many advancements with braces, they are still the go-to treatment, especially if you want insurance to chip in.

They consist of metal brackets and wires that, along with rubber bands, help to treat even severe orthodontic problems. In more modern times dentists have started using heat-activated archwires that make adjustments easier.

You can also jazz them up a little bit with the use of colorful bands. Some of the pros and cons of metal braces include the following.

Pros

  • Most affordable type of fixed braces
  • Durable and not prone to damage
  • Can treat even severe orthodontic problems
  • Can use colorful bands to add a bit of fun
Ask a dentist: Which kind of braces work better?

Adult orthodontic patients frequently prefer ceramic braces because they are less apparent than their
metal counterparts.

Ceramic braces are constructed from translucent materials, and some models even have wires
that match your teeth to enhance their covertness further. For some, this completely changes what it's like to have braces as an adult.


Dr Azariy Yusupov, DDS, Amazing Smiles Orthodontics

Cons

  • Very noticeable
  • Cannot be removed
  • Regular orthodontist or dentist trips to tighten wires
  • Can cause gum irritation and discomfort

Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces or clear braces are very similar to traditional metal braces except they are clear or tooth-colored. The brackets are made from ceramic material instead of metal, and the wires are metal.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Durable and not prone to damage
  • Can treat even severe orthodontic problems
  • More comfortable than metal braces
  • Less noticeable

Cons

  • Cannot be removed
  • Regular orthodontist or dentist trips to tighten wires
  • Ceramic is more brittle than metal

In the video below, Dr. Greg further explains the differences between clear and metal braces:

Clear or Ceramic Braces vs Traditional Metal Braces Dr. Greg’s Oral Hygiene Products: https://www.amazon.com/shop/drgregortho In this video we will be answering “What’s the difference and similarities between clear and metal braces" First thing to know is that your teeth won’t know the difference between clear or metal braces, meaning that the way we treat your teeth won’t be any different. The same result should be expected and ultimately the preference of having clear or metal braces is entirely up to you, the patient! Most of the time, though, clear braces will cost more simply because they are more expensive brackets. There are a number of differences though between clear and metal braces. The first thing you’ll notice is that the clear braces are … well, they’re clear! They don’t stain and are clear/white just like your teeth. The wire, most of the time, though remains metallic which means it is still a tiny bit noticeable. Also, ceramic braces are a lot more brittle than metal braces meaning they have a higher tendency of chipping / breaking. This means that you have to be even more careful with foods to avoid (see below for video). If your braces break, this will result in a longer treatment time so you have to be super careful with ceramic braces. Lastly, these ceramic braces are larger than metal braces simply because they are a lot more brittle. To make it so they don’t break as often as they would if they were the same size as metal braces, ceramic braces tend to be a bit thicker to have reinforcement. All in all, ceramic braces are a great option for those who are interested in having a more esthetic option than metal braces. There is not one that is “better” than the other but there are definitely pros and cons when comparing metal braces to ceramic braces! ⚫️Link to Merchandise : https://teespring.com/stores/dr-gregs-gear 🔴 Subscribe for more orthodontic content: https://www.youtube.com/drgregasatrian?sub_confirmation=1 🔵 Share this video with a YouTuber friend: https://youtu.be/4VOuZRJ-HlU Videos on: How Teeth Move – https://youtu.be/_mwRvV0kseY Types of ligatures (color ties, clear ties, self-ligating) – https://youtu.be/wTtJrMo0dmQ Foods to Avoid – https://youtu.be/xR16CL8IL50 As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me via the comments below! See you next time! Greg Asatrian, D.D.S., M.S. http://asatrianortho.com/ Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/drgregortho This video may contain orthodontic appliances, devices and/or procedural content. The content seen in this video is provided only for education purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For personalized advice, please be sure to visit a professional orthodontist near you!

Lingual braces

Lingual braces are fixed braces that are attached behind the teeth, so they are not visible from the outside unless the mouth is open. They are also known as hidden braces or incognito braces. Lingual braces work very similarly to metal braces except for the fact they are positioned on the other side of the teeth.

Lingual braces are good for patients who are very self-conscious about their smile and appearance. And, although treatment takes longer, some people may prefer them to the more visible alternatives.

Pros

lingual braces
Lingual braces are hidden behind the teeth
  • Hidden, so good for those concerned with appearance
  • Suitable for those who play musical instruments with their mouth
  • Not prone to calcification like traditionally placed braces

Cons

  • Take longer to treat
  • Harder to adjust
  • More expensive than traditional braces
  • Regular orthodontist or dentist trips to tighten wires
  • Can cause irritation to the tongue or speech problems

Self-ligating braces

Self-ligating braces have become more popular in recent years due to the fact they are less painful than the more traditional braces. They work and look very much the same as regular braces, except they do not use elastic bands to move teeth into alignment. Instead, they make use of a sliding bracket system with doors or clips that attach to the wire.

These braces are much easier to adjust and more comfortable; they also come in different ceramic and metal colors.

Pros

  • Less painful
  • Shorter treatment time than traditional braces
  • Need fewer visits to the dentist for adjustments

Cons

  • Not suitable for everyone
  • More expensive than traditional braces
  • More noticeable than other types of braces
  • Need careful attention and special equipment when cleaning and brushing with braces

Removable braces

Removable braces have become very popular with adults due to the fact that they are practically unnoticeable when worn. They are easily removed which makes eating more comfortable, and they can be worn when you are asleep and removed more in the day for meals and snacks.

They use pressure to gradually align and move teeth into the desired position over time.

Clear aligners

Also known as invisible braces, these are custom-made plastic trays that help to align teeth over time. Some, especially the remote treatment type, cannot treat as severe cases as fixed braces, but they can treat mild to moderate cases for those just to straighten teeth a bit.

In-office invisible braces can treat a wider range of cases. The most popular type of invisible brace is Invisalign, which can treat up to 90% of orthodontic cases and is very effective.

That being said, the brands that offer remote treatment are advancing constantly and becoming more efficient at straightening teeth from home.

We always recommend consulting your dentist before choosing a type of clear aligner or any type of dental treatment. You can read more about clear aligners and Invisalign alternatives if you'd like to know more.

invisible braces
Invisalign is the most popular clear aligner on the market

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Almost invisible
  • Removable
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Faster treatment time
  • Less noticeable than other styles of brace

Cons

  • Not suitable for severe dental problems
  • More expensive than traditional braces

Have a look at the table below that compares some of our top picks for remote treatment with clear aligners if you are looking for treatment for a mild case of malocclusion.

Find the right clear aligners for you
There are so many companies offering remote teeth straightening with aligners! Take a look at our top picks and discover why we recommend these over any others.
  • Complete treatment 100% remotely
  • Amazing customer service
  • Nighttime-only option
  • $1,495 or $58/month
Save $100 on NewSmile
Show Less Show More

NewSmile aligners are made from the clearest Essix plastic and come with a daytime or nighttime-only option to suit you. For just $1,495 you'll receive everything you need to straighten and whiten your teeth – and maintain your new smile:

  • Home impression kit
  • Full aligner treatment
  • Free whitening
  • First set of retainers
  • A full refund if you're not a good fit

NewSmile goes above and beyond to provide a great experience to all their customers, beginning with a live video call to help you with your teeth impressions. Mail these back, and they'll send a 3D Treatment Preview for you to approve before going ahead.

Alternatively, click here for an extra $20 off an impression kit!
  • Complete treatment 100% remotely
  • 6 month average treatment time
  • Nighttime-only option
  • $1,145 or $95/month
Save $150 now
Show Less Show More

If you're looking for the best value aligner package, here it is! For just $1,145 you'll get:

  • Impression kit
  • Full aligner treatment course
  • Free teeth whitening kit
  • Your first set of retainers

In short, everything needed to straighten your teeth remotely and keep them looking great, with a full money-back guarantee if you're not a suitable candidate.

This low price doesn't mean you're compromising on quality of care, though. ALIGNERCO just choose not to put so much into marketing, and they pass on the savings to their customers. They are also known for their responsive and helpful customer care, which is important when you're doing things from home.

Plus, if you're in New York, you can visit their SmileStudio for a free consultation and help taking your impressions.

Nighttime-only aligners are also available for anyone who doesn't want to wear aligners during the day.

Get $150 off!
  • 3-4 month average treatment time
  • Assessed and planned by orthodontists
  • Includes whitening and first retainers
  • $1,999 or $70/month
Get faster treatment
Show Less Show More

Byte's HyperByte technology uses High Frequency Vibration to help your teeth move faster and with minimal discomfort. Their average treatment time is just 3-4 months, compared to 6 months for most others.

Treatment includes your first set of retainers. You'll also get their BrightByte 3-in-1 foam to whiten your teeth, clean your aligners and freshen your breath. And their Byte-for-life guarantee means you'll get free adjustments if your teeth start to move again.

Begin by ordering an impression kit so their orthodontists can assess whether you're a good match.

Get $65 off with code BYTE22
  • Single-arch treatment option
  • Nighttime aligners available
  • Free refinements & 2 sets of retainers
  • $999 (single-arch) or $1,399 (dual-arch)
Check Smileie's offers
Show Less Show More

Smileie's aligner treatment is not only affordable, but flexible too. You have the option of single-arch treatment for just your top or bottom teeth, as well as nighttime-only treatment. And whichever package you choose, monthly payments are available.

On top of this, Smileie offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee which includes free refinements if needed. Their aligners are made in the US and treatment takes 4-6 months on average.

Get the best discount when you purchase your aligner package up-front, including:

  • Home impression kit
  • Teeth whitening kit
  • Two sets of retainers
  • A full refund if you're not a good candidate

Packages start at $999 for single-arch treatment. Click below to check for current discounts!

Functional Braces

While functional braces are not necessarily braces, they can be used prior to treatment to help with misalignment and malocclusion. They are orthodontic appliances that are two removable parts that work together to align your bite and change your facial profile.

Twin block braces are a type of orthodontic appliance that restricts you from closing your jaws completely unless they are in the desired position. Over time this will persuade your jaw and bite into the correct position.

Pros

  • Aligns your bite
  • Changes facial profile
  • Easy to clean
  • Removable

Cons

  • Can add up to 12 months to your treatment
  • Can be uncomfortable to wear
  • More suitable for children with growing jaws

Conclusion

If you want to straighten your teeth and improve your smile, but are not sure about wearing braces, don't let that put you off. There are many kinds of braces to choose from, and even if your orthodontic case is severe you may have options.

Fixed braces are more commonly used for more severe problems. However, if you are concerned about your appearance ask your dentist or orthodontist which types of braces you are eligible for. You can read about the different kinds in our full guide here.

If you need fixed braces but are concerned about how they look, ceramic braces or lingual braces might be a good option for you. Invisible braces are also a good option if you don't want your braces to be noticeable, however it may depend if they are suitable for your orthodontic needs.

If you still have concerns, speak with your dentist to help you make a decision on which braces are best for you.

FAQS

What are ceramic braces?

Ceramic braces are similar to traditional fixed braces, except the brackets are made from clear or tooth-colored ceramic material. These braces are more subtle and comfortable than metal braces.

What is the difference between fixed braces and removable braces?

Fixed braces are braces that consist of brackets and wire that are cemented into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. These are commonly used for more moderate to severe cases.

Different Types of Braces for Teeth: Removable, Clear, Fixed and More
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Contributors:
Amanda combines her medical background with her love for writing to bring you informed and accurate content at Dentaly.org.
Dr. Yusupov is one of the leading professional orthodontists that have extensive three-year post-doctoral training in the latest techniques such as Temporary Anchorage devices, Invisalign, Innovation Clear braces, Damon and Speed Systems.