What types of braces are available?

Orthodontic treatment often is more comfortable and takes less time than it did years ago. Braces (also called "orthodontic appliances") can be as inconspicuous -- or as noticeable -- as the patient desires. Brackets (the part of the braces that attach to each tooth) are smaller. Some brackets are attached to the back of the teeth, making them less noticeable.

Brackets are made of metal, ceramic, plastic or a combination of these materials. Some brackets are clear or tooth-colored. For those who want to show off their braces, there are brackets shaped like hearts and footballs, and elastics (orthodontic rubber bands) are available in school colors and holiday hues such as red, white and blue. There are gold-plated braces and glow-in-the-dark retainers.
There are several different types of braces available, for all ages. Some braces are the traditional metal types that wrap around each tooth and must be tightened and loosened every few weeks. Others are made of metal and glued to the outside of the teeth. Clear or invisible braces are available that are held on to the teeth with a special glue. Some newer braces are clear as well as removable, and are worn for a time before they are taken off and put back on again.

No matter what type of braces you get, your orthodontist will make the braces specially for you after measuring your mouth and taking X-rays.
Jonathan B. Levine, DMD
To shift teeth into a more desirable arrangement, an orthodontist uses one of two methods, brackets or Invisaligns. Brackets involves bonding braces to the front of teeth, which are then connected with wires that direct the teeth toward their goal. Invisaligns, the other option, are clear plastic acrylic shells (that orthodontists call aligners) that snap over the teeth.  Invisaligns are worn in series, each one slightly different than the one before, for two weeks at a time.
Smile!: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Smile Beauty

More About this Book

Smile!: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Smile Beauty

Renowned dentist and creator of the GoSMILE product line Dr. Levine offers this complete guide to getting a whiter, brighter smile. 15 photos & illustrations.

Continue Learning about Oral Health

Chapped Lips? Avoid This . . .
Chapped Lips? Avoid This . . .
If the cooler fall air has you reaching for your lip balm, flip it over and look at the label. You might want to ditch it if you see this in the ingre...
Read More
What procedures help treat malocclusion?
Dr. Supriya VermaDr. Supriya Verma
There are various options to treat malocclusion depending on the nature of the Malocclusion (mild/mo...
More Answers
7 Steps to a Beautiful Smile
7 Steps to a Beautiful Smile7 Steps to a Beautiful Smile7 Steps to a Beautiful Smile7 Steps to a Beautiful Smile
Get a gorgeous grin with these simple tips from leading dentists.
Start Slideshow
3 Questions to Ask Your Dentist About Dental X-Rays
3 Questions to Ask Your Dentist About Dental X-Rays

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.