Braces are an orthodontic treatment that straighten or move teeth to improve the appearance of the teeth and how they work. Braces can also help the long-term health of your teeth, gums and jaw joints by spreading biting pressure over all your teeth. There are three main types of braces:
- Traditional Braces
Traditional braces are comprised of metal brackets that are affixed to teeth and wires that are threaded through slots in the brackets. Some patients may also have metal bands encircling back teeth. Wires are held to brackets by tiny rubber bands called “ligatures” or “O-rings.” Brackets are generally made of stainless steel. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.
- Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces are tooth-colored, making them next-to-invisible. They are affixed to teeth, and wires are threaded through slots in the brackets. Wires are held to brackets by tiny rubber bands called “ligatures” or “O-rings.” Brackets are made of ceramic or porcelain materials. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.
- Self-litigating Braces
Self-ligating braces do not require elastic or metal ties. Built-in clips hold the wires to the brackets. Self-litigating braces can be made with metal or ceramic brackets depending on your orthodontist’s recommendation.
What to Expect
The goal of the first appointment is to determine if treatment is needed and, if so, how to best proceed. A thorough clinical examination of the patient’s teeth, gums and supporting bone structure is performed. Photographs and x-rays of the teeth and mouth will be taken, along with impressions of the teeth. These will be used to help determine a customized and individualized diagnosis and treatment plan. The orthodontist will explain any orthodontic concerns and recommend a course of action (treatment plan). The orthodontist may also recommend appliances, such as retainers or expanders for the malocclusion, or working with other specialists (i.e. pediatric dentist or oral surgeon).
If it is determined orthodontic treatment is needed, the patient will be given an estimate of the treatment costs and the staff will review the insurance benefits. Financing options and payment plans will be discussed. The patient will also receive an estimate as to the length of time the treatment will take and frequency of appointments.