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Different types of braces


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 arch wires. Metal braces typically are the the most cost-efficient orthodontic treatment available. Metal braces consist of:


The brackets are durable and made from a mix of stainless steel, nickel, and other metals. Brackets have little hooks or doors where a wire is threaded. A bracket can be secured by closing the door, or by placing an elastic over the top of the wire.


This is what the doctors will use to attach the brackets to your teeth. It’s common to attach the bracket directly to the tooth with glue.

Happy to wear braces


This thin piece of metal runs from one bracket to another. We will change the shape and curvature of the wire to move your teeth in the right direction.

The wire will attach all of your bottom or upper teeth together in many cases, but we might occasionally cut the wire if connecting just a few teeth is better for your treatment plan.


If you need bite correction, elastics are essential. They’re generally strung between an upper bracket hook and a lower bracket hook. This will pull the upper jaw backward to correct an overbite, or the lower jaw back to correct an underbite.

We use rubber bands for many different situations, especially when we want to put extra pressure on the teeth or jaws.

Elastic Ties/O-Rings/Ligatures

This is where most teenagers have fun with their braces. These tiny rubber rings or bands are used to attach the arch wire to the brackets. You can mix and match colors in all sorts of ways. You can proudly represent your school colors, or do holiday themes. With dozens of colors the only limit is your imagination.

Orthodontic Bands

These are stainless steel rings that are cemented to your teeth using dental bonding agents. These bands can provide an anchor for your braces and orthodontic appliances, but they’re not used for everyone. Typically they are for patients with significant gaps or to re-align the bite.


These small elastic “donuts” or rings can be used to create space in between your teeth when needed, typically before bands are placed. They’re also referred to as separators.

Ceramic Braces

Clear (Ceramic) Braces

Ceramic braces, sometimes referred to as clear braces, are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. While they may be aesthetically more pleasing for some, they work essentially the same as metal braces for straightening teeth.

These ceramic options blend in well with your natural smile. They're smaller than ever and made of nearly invisible tooth-colored polycrystalline ceramic material. Though they're not completely invisible, and the brackets are about the same size and shape, they’re much less noticeable than metal braces.

Ceramic brackets are a less obvious way to straighten your smile when paired with clear or white wires and elastic ties. This option is especially attractive if you’re an esthetic-minded adult or teen.

Ceramic braces are perfect if you want an esthetic treatment option but don't want the extra hassle of removable aligners and the responsibility of wear time.

Metal Braces vs Ceramic Braces

Metal braces are known for their durability and strength. Ceramic braces are also tough, but they are made from a different, more fragile material that is more likely to chip or crack.

Traditional braces are also better at tolerating pressure than newer ceramic ones.

If you need more drastic corrections, metal braces could be a better option. Adjustments with ceramic braces have to be slightly smaller, so it can take a little more time to align your teeth.

Having said that, both types of braces work on the same principles and tend to be equally as effective in most cases.

You may be worried about ceramic braces staining, but that hasn’t been a problem for several years. Ceramic brackets won’t stain. But, the adhesive used to attach the brackets to the teeth and the clear elastic ties used to hold the wires in can stain. This can give an overall impression of discoloration or staining over time.

You can choose to avoid things like coffee and tea, red wine, tomatoes, mustard, etc. to cut back on the chance of any staining. This isn’t necessary since we change your elastics at every adjustment appointment.

As long as you maintain a good oral hygiene routine, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about giving up your morning cup of coffee or evening glass of wine.

Metal vs Ceramic Braces

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are a series of invisible, removable, and comfortable acrylic trays that straighten your teeth like braces. At Smile Straight Orthodontics we use Invisalign® clear aligners.

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. You typically have to wear them for around 22 hours a day.

There is a certain responsibility (you don't want to lose them and you need to remember to wear them for the prescribed duration each day) that comes with clear aligner treatment. Clear aligners are typically only recommended for adult patients. There is a wonderful product geared toward younger patients called Invisalign® for Teens. We will work together to determine whether a teenager is a good candidate for this treatment option.

Schedule a FREE consultation to discuss the various orthodontic treatment choices and what option is best for you.

Woman with Invisalign