Did you know that 25% of the people who wear braces are adults? If you’re worried that it’s too late to get orthodontic treatment, you’re in luck- it isn’t. You’re far from alone when seeking braces at this stage in your life.

When you decide to take the leap, you’ll have multiple types of braces to choose from. Metal braces and self-ligating braces are two of the most basic options available to you. Read on to learn more about both of these alternatives and get some insight into which is best for you.

The Basics of Metal Braces

Metal braces are the most common type of braces out there. People of all ages can have them put in for a durable and comfortable treatment.

These braces use elastic bands or small metal ties to secure the archwire within the brackets. These ligatures keep the braces tightly in place so that treatment works effectively. It’s a simple and basic mechanism, but it’s a classic for a reason- it’s been working wonders for decades.

In past years, these braces were associated with early adolescence because they were bulky, obvious, and took up a lot of space in the mouth. However, recent technologies and advancements have made them less noticeable and more lightweight. This means that adults can also wear them while still looking professional and mature.

Pros and Cons of Metal Braces

There are many advantages to metal braces:

  • A tried and true technology (more research on their effectiveness)
  • Generally the least expensive alternative
  • Lets you express your style and taste
    • Choose from various colors for your elastic ligatures
    • Colors are changeable each time you get new ligatures
  • Fairly easy to clean with the right floss and mouthwash
  • Developing new technologies to optimize braces for adults
    • Newer, more lightweight metals
    • Less obvious, smaller brackets
    • Shorter durations for treatment because of increasingly effective braces

There are also some disadvantages:

  • Can be bulky and make you look younger (despite recent advancements)
  • Longer orthodontist visits since you’ll need to change the ligatures
  • Potentially slightly more discomfort than alternatives offer

What Are Self-Ligating Braces?

In order for traditional metal braces to remain secure, they need additional ligatures to be woven into their framework. As we brushed on before, this keeps the archwire in place. However, this is no longer the only option for those seeking oral health treatment.

Self-ligating braces have a different system for keeping the archwire in place. They contain a sliding mechanism within the brackets themselves to keep the wire secure. They use a small gate-like mechanism that closes over the bracket and keeps it in place.

Self-ligating braces contain two types of brackets: active ones and passive ones. Active brackets have a sliding spring clip that presses against the archwire to apply force. Passive ones have an even simpler sliding mechanism that doesn’t press down on the archwire. Their purpose is simply to keep it in place.

Pros and Cons of Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces come with many benefits:

  • Shorter visits to the orthodontist
    • Ligatures don’t need to be replaced during adjustment
    • Opening and shutting the brackets takes a lot less time
  • Braces are less likely to break (since ligatures are built-in and there are fewer mechanisms)
  • Easier to clean (ligatures won’t be there to trap tiny food particles)
    • Saves time and prevents stress
    • Reduces the likelihood of cavities and tooth decay
  • Less discomfort than with traditional braces
  • Faster alignment within the first four months of treatment (per this 2019 study)

They also have a few downsides:

  • Usually more expensive than traditional metal braces
  • The technology is still fairly new/developing

Braces for Adolescents

While we have been talking about adult braces up until this point, many of the people who need braces are adolescents and preteens. If you are the parent of a child who needs braces, metal braces are usually the right choice. There is no stigma whatsoever about this common right of passage into adolescence.

Children will love metal braces with ligatures because they can choose their favorite colors to put in the band. They can express a sports team they love or choose something that represents a favorite book or movie. The possibilities are limitless and young people need the ability to express themselves as much as possible.

How Do You Choose the Right Adult Braces for Your Needs?

The braces that you select for yourself will depend highly on your individual needs. Self-ligating braces are generally the superior alternative for those who can afford them. They have easier treatment plans and less discomfort.

However, some people are skeptical of the newer technologies that self-ligating braces use. If this describes you, metal braces may be a more comfortable alternative for your emotionally. This is totally fine- they work just as effectively as self-ligating ones do.

To determine definitively which option is right for you, it’s critical that you consult with an oral health expert. Professionals can help you choose the appropriate type of braces to fit your needs. You won’t need to make the decision all on your own.

Reach Out to Your Local Orthodontist

Now that you know the difference between metal and self-ligating braces, it’s time to get started. Download and fill out our new patient forms to begin scheduling your free initial exam.

After you do this, we’re happy to help you schedule your exam so that we can discuss braces and other orthodontic treatment plans. We also are happy to answer any remaining questions that you have about different types of braces. We’re excited to help you feel confident in your smile again!