Types of Braces

When people hear the word “braces,” large metal pieces attached to wire usually come to mind. The truth is, teeth-straightening technology has improved significantly since the days of “metal mouth.” In fact, you may have seen many people wearing braces and not even have noticed them! Alternatively, if you aren’t a candidate for clear braces, there may be other straightening options that you may haven’t considered. Here are a few different types of braces you may not have thought to ask about.


Clear braces, like Invisalign™, are now a widely popular option for those looking to get a straighter smile discreetly. The process of getting invisible braces is pretty straightforward. The first step is making an appointment with your orthodontist to talk about your options. Not everyone is a candidate for Invisalign™. A mold is made of your teeth and then sent off to the Invisalign™ laboratory to create your own custom set of straightening pieces that fit perfectly to the shape of your unique smile. Trade out your mouthpieces as you progress (with the advice of your orthodontist) and watch as your teeth magically shift into the smile you have always dreamed of. They are not noticeable, and you can take them out temporarily to clean and eat foods that are not always braces-friendly.

Ceramic Braces

Before the option of clear braces, many dentists gave the choice of ceramic braces. The brackets were often the same color as the teeth, and wires that were also teeth-colored to provide an invisible look. Some orthodontists still offer ceramic braces, but they are much more expensive than Invisalign™ or metal braces. In some cases, they may also take longer to achieve the same result as metal or clear braces. Most people that are looking for a discreet way to straighten their teeth often opt for Invisalign™.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are still made of metal but are attached to the back tooth instead of on the outside. This makes them less-noticeable when you smile. They are just as effective as traditional metal braces, but they do have a few drawbacks. They are notoriously difficult to clean, as you can’t always reach the small nooks and crannies behind the teeth. Many patients also report that speaking with lingual braces at first can be difficult. While there is still an adjustment when speaking with braces, lingual braces are attached where the tongue hits the back of the teeth for specific letters, making it even more difficult than traditional metal braces. For these reasons, many people choose other options over lingual braces.

Self-Ligating Braces

These are an excellent choice for people who can’t do clear braces but don’t want the full traditional metal braces. They use a bracket and wire system that uses clips rather than the full rubber band setup. This type comes in both metal and ceramic, the latter being significantly more expensive but less noticeable. These braces don’t hold on to food, are easy to clean, and much more convenient to place than traditional metal braces. They are still more noticeable than clear braces, like Invisalign™. If visibility is a big concern, then self-ligating braces may not be the best option for you.

Is One Better Than the Other?

With so many different types of braces, how do you know which one is better for you? Well, there are a few things to consider when choosing the type of braces. First is your orthodontic needs. Not everyone is a candidate for all the alternative options. The only person who can tell you which braces will work for your teeth is your orthodontist. The second consideration is the price. Some options are more expensive than others. While your orthodontist office may offer financing, it is still something you may want to think about. Thirdly, convenience is a significant factor for many. Some braces work faster than others. Depending on how quickly you wish to achieve your perfect smile, that may dictate which option you choose. Lastly, your long-term plan for your teeth. Your orthodontist may have a particular strategy for your teeth. Some types of braces may work better with one approach than the other. Consult with your dentist or orthodontist to see if a kind of braces may be a better option over another.

Talk to Your Orthodontist

There are many different types of braces to choose from. The best way to make an informed decision is to do some research yourself regarding your options. Bring the information you find to your orthodontist office, and discuss them at length. Depending on your situation, one option may be better than the other. However, you cannot make that decision without the help of a licensed professional. Ask your dentist or orthodontist about the best braces that will achieve your smile goals. It may be much easier than you have ever thought!

Are you considering braces in Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry? Ballard Orthodontics is the trusted source for excellent orthodontic care. Dr. Rick Ballard and his talented orthodontic team use their expertise in orthodontics and their access to the most up-to-date technology to create beautiful smiles. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!