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Types of Braces Explained—Features, Benefits and Cost

Written by Dr. Chaw Su Kyi on June 16, 2023

If you have misaligned, gappy, or overcrowded teeth, it can affect your oral health and self-confidence. Fortunately, there are several types of braces and aligners that use a slight force on your teeth to move them slowly into a more favourable position.

One orthodontic treatment option is to fix braces on your teeth. This versatile treatment uses brackets and wires attached to your teeth to create the pressure needed to make adjustments. Various fixed brace options are available, including conventional, self-ligating, lingual, and ceramic braces.

Alternatively, you could use a removable appliance or aligner. One example is Invisalign, a clear aligner system that is convenient and virtually invisible.
There are considerations and benefits for each type of orthodontic appliance, and you may find some are more suitable for your needs than others.

This guide will discuss the various types of braces, including how they work, what they can treat, benefits, care, and costs.

Fixed Braces

Traditional fixed metal braces have been used for many years. This effective solution uses metal brackets fixed to the front of your teeth. We can use fixed braces on both your upper and lower arches. A metal wire runs through the brackets. We then fix the wire to each bracket using very small elastic bands.

Traditional braces are suitable for treating mild to complex dental problems, including fixing crooked teeth and bite issues. During treatment, we will adjust your brace regularly by tightening the wire. Every adjustment progresses your treatment.

Treatment lengths range from around six months to two years, depending on the complexity of your case.

The benefits of fixed metal braces are:

  • Effective – Fixed braces provide reliable results
  • Versatile – Fixes complex cases
  • Affordable – Often, metal braces are the lowest-priced option

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces work like traditional fixed braces; however, instead of being made of metal, your appliance is entirely made from a tooth-coloured or translucent ceramic material. This gives a more discreet appearance as your brace will blend in with your teeth.

We use Clarity braces, a subtle treatment option that’s effective in most cases. As with traditional metal braces, treatment lengths vary based on complexity, and we will adjust
The main benefits of ceramic and clear braces are:

  • Discreet – The brace subtly blends with your natural teeth
  • Comfortable – Ceramic is more comfortable than metal appliances
  • Fixed – Once the braces are placed, you will not have to do anything

Self-Ligating Braces

Damon braces are fixed self-ligating orthodontic appliances. Like metal or ceramic braces, these include brackets and wires. Where they differ is there are no elastic bands holding the wires in place. Instead, special brackets help simplify the treatment.

Typically, Damon braces require fewer adjustments than standard metal braces, and when we do make them, the process is quicker and easier, meaning your appointments are shorter.
We can often treat your issue in less time using Damon braces.

Some of the benefits of self-ligating braces are:

  • Quicker – Appointment lengths and treatment times are both reduced
  • Comfortable – Damon braces allow for easier, more comfortable tooth movements
  • Convenient – The self-ligating system makes cleaning your teeth and braces easier

Lingual Braces

While all of the braces discussed so far are fixed to the front of your teeth. Custom-made lingual braces are mounted onto the back facing your tongue. Sometimes referred to as Incognito hidden braces, this type of appliance is invisible to others.

Lingual braces are used to fix a range of malocclusions. In many cases, treatment lengths are reduced compared to other fixed appliances. After fitting, some patients may experience speech problems; however, these are typically resolved after around two weeks.

The main benefits of lingual braces include the following:

  • Discreet – Hidden from view, this is the most subtle treatment option
  • Versatile – Suitable for fixing most orthodontic problems
  • Bespoke – Lingual braces are made to fit the curved back of your teeth

Invisible Braces

Wearing fixed metal braces can make some people feel self-conscious. If having a more noticeable treatment puts you off getting braces, there are more discreet options.
Invisible braces could refer to either lingual braces, which are fixed to the backs of your teeth or Invisalign, a clear removable aligner system. The primary benefit of both options is their subtlety.

Removable Appliances

In some mild cases, a removable appliance can be used to treat misaligned teeth. This type of brace is made of metal and plastic and often includes a plate. Unlike fixed appliances, removable braces can be removed when eating and brushing your teeth or while playing sports or wind instruments. Sometimes, this type of appliance is used following treatment using fixed braces.

The benefits of removable appliances include:

  • Convenient – Being able to remove your appliance means it has less impact on your lifestyle
  • Easy to clean – Removing your appliance makes it easier to clean both the brace and your teeth

Invisalign® Removable Aligners

Aligners are clear plastic appliances that work like braces to straighten your teeth. Unlike braces, aligners are removable. We use the popular Invisalign aligner system. Every step of your orthodontic treatment is carefully planned using the latest digital technology, with predictable results.

Your custom-made aligners will perfectly match the position of your teeth, applying pressure in exactly the right places to promote tooth movement. Throughout your treatment, you will replace your aligner roughly every two weeks. Every new aligner helps move your teeth into a slightly different position.

Because your aligner is removable, you can take it out at mealtimes and while brushing your teeth. You will wear your aligner for around 22 hours each day to achieve the best results. Invisalign is comfortable, so it will not cause discomfort while sleeping.

There is a treatment for everyone, including Invisalign First for young children and options for teens and adults. Invisalign is suitable for most orthodontic problems; however, we may use it following treatment using fixed braces in more complex cases.

The benefits of Invisalign Include:

  • Discreet – The translucent aligner trays are barely visible when worn
  • Comfortable – Your custom aligner is made from a smooth plastic
  • Convenient – You can take your aligner out while eating

Care and Maintenance

Whichever treatment option you choose, you will need to consider care and maintenance. Dental hygiene is essential for everyone, but it becomes even more important when you have traditional metal braces or an aligner, as your appliance could harbour bacteria and food debris.

Fixed braces remain attached to your teeth throughout treatment. As such, taking care when eating and brushing your teeth is essential to reduce the risk of damage.
Food can get stuck between the brace wires and teeth and around the brackets. Additionally, crunchy or chewy foods could potentially harm your brace. Avoid anything that could cause damage, and cut food into small pieces wherever possible.

When cleaning your teeth, use a soft toothbrush. You will need to brush at an angle, ensuring you clean beneath the wire on each tooth. Brushing can take longer with braces; however, it is important to be thorough and regular.

Although you can remove aligners while eating, cleaning them and your teeth often is still important. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and clean your aligner at the same time. Use a separate soft-bristled toothbrush, water, and cleaning tablets or non-abrasive toothpaste to clean the aligner.

If your aligner or brace breaks during treatment, contact us immediately.

Cost Comparison

Cost is often a key consideration when choosing your treatment. With all brace and aligner options, complexity is a factor in price. A mild case will involve shorter treatment lengths and less time in the dentist’s chair. In the case of Invisalign, it also means fewer aligners.

In terms of price, Damon braces and lingual braces start at £5,000 per arch, Invisalign from £4,000, and Clarity braces begin at £6,000.

Whether you choose dental braces or aligners, you can opt to pay for your treatment in full or take advantage of the interest-free monthly payment option. When paying in instalments, you will make an initial deposit, followed by 12 monthly payments.

Braces and Aligners at West London Orthodontists

With many options available, there are several factors to consider when deciding between types of braces. You may want to consider cost, appearance, and how your braces will affect your daily life. The biggest consideration should be suitability; this requires a professional’s expertise and advice.

Award-winning London orthodontist Dr Chaw Su Kyi has helped countless people achieve perfectly straight smiles while improving their standard of oral health. As a skilled and knowledgeable Specialist Orthodontist, she has the experience needed to provide advice on even the most complex case.

Call West London Orthodontists today to schedule your consultation.

West London Orthodontics offers the most advanced orthodontic care for children and adults. Serving patients in Hammersmith, Shepherd's Bush, and Chiswick, Dr Kyi and her team specialise in various brace options, including Invisalign. Book a consultation today.

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