Braces are what most people think of when they consider orthodontics.

Braces consist of brackets that are glued to the outside surface of the teeth and an archwire that is attached to these brackets.

The bracket is like a handle placed on the tooth and the archwire provides the light force through these bracket “handles” to the teeth in order to move the teeth. With self-ligating brackets the archwire is held into the brackets with a sliding clip that holds it in place.

With regular brackets the archwire is held in place with small elastics. These elastics are available in a variety of colours and can provide some fun for patients to pick colours that they want for that appointment cycle. The elastics are changed at every visit so new colours can be chosen.

With the self-ligating brackets there is no need for elastics and oral hygiene is somewhat easier without the elastics. Brackets are available in metal, tooth coloured ceramic, or tooth coloured plastic.

When food gets stuck on metal braces it doesn’t show as much as on the tooth coloured braces. The tooth coloured braces can blend in nicely with the teeth and don’t show as obviously that you have braces. One downside of the tooth coloured braces is that when food gets stuck on them it really shows up so you have to brush your teeth frequently and carefully.

There is some controversy about any superiority of self-ligating brackets versus regular brackets.

Bracket manufacturers are now marketing directly to consumers to convince them to demand their brand of brackets for treatment and of course their marketing will strongly promote their product.

The research into various types of brackets regarding efficiency, comfort, and speed of treatment are quite variable and some current studies show that there is not a great difference in speed of treatment or comfort of the braces between the various types of self-ligating or regular brackets.

It is advisable to accept the advice of your orthodontist as to what type of brackets will be used in your treatment.