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