What types of braces are there?

Here you will find a description of the orthodontic appliances used in our practice. You will require a consultation before our orthodontists can advise you about the best treatment option for your specific case.

Fixed Braces
These are the most common type of orthodontic brace. Most patients require the use of fixed orthodontic appliances (‘train tracks’) to have really straight teeth, and achieve the best possible improvement of their smile. Small precisely designed buttons called brackets are stuck/bonded to each tooth. Sometimes rings called bands are also fitted around the back/molar teeth. The brackets are then connected to each other using a thin wire, called an archwire. The wire is held in place with small elastic rings called modules, or with very thin wires called ligatures. The wires are adjusted at regular intervals to straighten the teeth and correct the bite.

With fixed braces, there is no plastic in the roof of the mouth. This means speech is unaffected and the flavour of food can be enjoyed fully. As the appliance cannot be removed, it acts full-time, and so it is very effective. Fixed braces are very good at achieving fine detail, and making the smile look really perfect!

Fixed appliances, by definition, cannot be removed by the patient. The simplest way to think of each bracket is as a handle with which it is possible to control each tooth individually and precisely.
Stainless Steel Fixed Braces
The brackets in these fixed braces are made of metal. Modern brackets are quite small, and they cover a relatively smaller area of each tooth, making braces more attractive than they used to be. These conventional braces are very practical, reliable and relatively fast-acting.

Coloured Braces
These are basically the normal metal brace, but the modules used to hold the archwire in place come in a multitude of colours to make the wearing of braces more fun. These colours can be changed at every appointment.

Tooth-coloured, Clear or Ceramic Braces
The brackets are made of ceramic or plastic; they are translucent or the same colour as the teeth, making them much less noticeable than metal brackets.

Removable Braces
Sometimes fixed braces are not the ideal appliances to bring about the required changes to the bite, and a removable brace has to be used. A removable brace consists of a plastic base and custom-made metal wire components. Some of these wires are designed to keep the brace secured to the teeth.

A removable brace simply clips onto the teeth, and can be easily fitted or removed. Its insertion or removal does not cause any pain.

Functional/Orthopaedic Braces
A functional appliance is a functional brace that is worn on the upper and lower teeth at the same time in order to correct the way upper and lower teeth fit over each other. For example a functional brace may be used to correct very protruding upper or lower front teeth, improve the way molar teeth bite together, or even improve your facial profile so that the jaws look more aligned with each other when you look at the face in profile.

Functional braces only work in growing children and adolescents. Research is still being carried out to evaluate exactly how functional braces work. It is thought that functional braces deliver their effects through a combination of ways. They may promote or modify growth of the jaws, adapt the soft tissues and muscles of the face to new positions, move whole groups of teeth at the same time or change the angulation of teeth.

Headgear
Headgear is being used less and less by orthodontists these days; but its use is still necessary in a small minority of cases. Headgear is worn to move the back teeth further back in order to create extra space; or to stop the back teeth from moving forwards and keep them in their present position, whilst the front teeth are being straightened. Headgear also helps you achieve the best possible bite between your upper and lower teeth.

Retainers
Retainers are appliances that maintain and hold the alignment of your teeth and the improvement of your bite after the completion of active orthodontic treatment. They are usually passive and are not designed to move teeth. Even after orthodontic treatment, your teeth can lose their alignment throughout growth and even in adulthood. For example, most people notice increasing irregularity of their lower front teeth with age. Retainers are designed to prevent such undesirable changes.

Retainers are either removable or fixed to your teeth. Removable retainers can be made either from wires and hard plastic (where you only see a thin horizontal wire on the front of your teeth), or from soft clear plastic (which fits over your teeth a little like a mouthguard).

Fixed or bonded retainers are made from a fine piece of special wire that is stuck to the back of the teeth so that it is not visible from the front. Having taken various factors into consideration, your orthodontist will determine which retainer or combination of retainers is suitable for your teeth.

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