What are Self-Ligating Braces?

self-ligating braces charlottesville vaMore than ever, people of every age are choosing to improve their smiles with orthodontic braces.  For many people, traditional braces are still the best course of action for smile enhancement. They are cost effective and produce excellent results.

Some choose metal brackets, while those who prefer their braces are less noticeable choose ceramic. It may be valuable to know that there is more than one type of traditional, metal braces available to you. You can choose a standard bracket, or you can choose self-ligating braces.  

Understanding Traditional Brackets

To understand the differences between your bracket options, you may need to better understand the components of standard braces and how they work. The braces you have typically seen have several parts:

  • The brackets – made of stainless steel or tooth-colored ceramic, brackets are attached to your teeth with an adhesive. Brackets typically have small slots where the orthodontic wires are inserted
  • The archwire – a thin stainless steel or nickel-titanium wire that places pressure on your teeth to create movement
  • The ligature– the ligature is made of wire or rubber bands. The ligature holds the archwire in place

Whether you choose to wear traditional braces or self-ligating braces, you will typically need to visit your orthodontist office every four to eight weeks to have your braces adjusted. Your adjustment schedule keeps your treatment moving along at a steady pace.

Understanding Self-Ligating Braces

The design of self-ligating braces is a bit different than traditional. With self-ligating braces, the section that holds the wire in place is built directly into the bracket. A closing mechanism creates a tube that secures the archwire, eliminating the need for separate ligatures. You will not need wires or bands to hold the archwire to your brackets. There are several advantages to selecting self-ligating metal or ceramic braces. Some of the benefits include:

  • A lower profile and smoother edges than traditional brackets, enhancing comfort
  • Easier to keep teeth clean due to fewer surfaces for food particles and plaque to collect
  • Since the brackets are spring loaded, adjustment appointments are often much faster
  • May result in less discomfort during adjustments
  • May reduce the number of required office visits, with a more efficient delivery of low level force
  • Minimizes the friction and force needed to straighten teeth which can also minimize discomfort
  • May result in a shorter treatment duration due to increased torque

The Types of Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating brackets are not new technology; they were first introduced in 1935, but they have gained significant popularity in the past decade. There are two types of self-ligating brackets. The main difference between the two types is the mechanism used to close the slots that house the archwire.

  • Passive brackets– the closing mechanism creates a tube that holds the archwire in place. Passive brackets typically use a smaller sized archwire.
  • Active brackets– the ligation clip exerts pressure on the archwire, enhancing the control of the movement of your teeth.

Braces Do More Than Straighten Teeth

Braces do more for your health and wellbeing than simply improving the appearance of your smile. Dr. Hamer or Dr. Glassick may also recommend braces to assist in the treatment of sleep apnea and temporomandibular joint disorder. Some of the other conditions corrected with traditional or self-ligating braces include:

  • Overjet – when teeth jut outwards in front of the lower teeth
  • Crossbite –  when two rows of teeth do not align correctly
  • Diastema – spaces between teeth
  • Overbite – upper teeth that overlap lower teeth more than they should
  • Underbite –  position of the lower teeth and jaw cause lower teeth to overlap upper teeth
  • Crowding –  braces can successfully reposition incisors creating more room for adjacent teeth

Hamer & Glassick Orthodontics is an excellent source of information and assistance for selecting the best type of braces to suit your needs and your lifestyle. Ask Dr. Hamer or Dr. Glassick if self-ligating braces are your best treatment option. It’s never too late to improve the health or appearance of your smile.  To schedule a complimentary consultation, contact us at (434) 296-0188 or use our convenient online scheduling tool!