Self Ligating Braces vs Traditional Braces: The Best Option for Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic Treatment Through Self Ligating Braces

Once you have decided on using braces for orthodontic treatment, the next step is to choose the best type. While the use of self-ligating brackets in oral braces is not a new concept, they have become increasingly popular over the past few years.

For those who do not favor the looks of traditional braces, self-ligating braces are a better option. They offer equally good results but come with a relatively discreet design that draws less attention.

In this article, we will discuss the details of self-ligating braces along with their pros and cons compared to traditional braces.

Key Takeaways: Self Ligating Bracket

  • Self-ligating braces come with a built-in bracket system and an archwire for adjusting the teeth. They do not use rubber bands or elastic ties.

  • The treatment process can take anywhere between one to three years depending on the dental condition of the patient.

  • These types of braces require periodic tightening and readjustment by an orthodontist. However, the time taken for these adjustments is less than traditional braces.

  • Self-ligating braces are more expensive than traditional brackets.

  • Present research does not prove the fact that self-ligating braces are more effective than regular braces.

What Are Self Ligating Braces?

Self-ligating braces function in the same way as traditional metal braces. While they use an archwire and brackets, these braces have no elastic or metal bands or ties. They use a bracket and a spring-loaded door that holds the archwire in position. A gradual sliding mechanism is used to align the teeth.

The basic method of a self-ligating brace installation and the treatment process is the same as traditional braces. As a result, these types of braces have some advantages over the traditional metal ones.

One major difference is unlike colored rubber bands, the fixtures do not need replacement every four to six weeks. Moreover, they are easier to clean and are expected to keep the oral environment more healthy.

These self-ligating braces come in two forms which we will describe below.

Self Ligating Braces

Passive Self-Ligating Braces

In this case, these types of braces use an archwire of smaller size that maximizes the spaces between the brackets. As a result, they are less intrusive and allow more freedom in tooth movement.

Researchers reported significant reductions in the sliding frictional forces after placing passive brackets on maxillary posterior teeth. Results were more pronounced after using nickel-titanium and beta-titanium wires [1].

Active Self-Ligating Braces

These special clips use a thick archwire and can deliver a higher amount of pressure. They use a sliding spring clip that applies a direct force on the teeth. Active brackets also result in higher frictional forces. According to research, active braces are more effective for the treatment of teeth alignment [2].

Self Ligating Ceramic Braces

Traditionally, metal braces are the most common option, but ceramic is another popular choice. In many cases, the patient feels more comfortable with less noticeable braces. The advantage of ceramic is it is tooth-colored and blends more effectively with the surrounding teeth. Ceramic braces are mostly used on the upper front teeth area.

The choice of material is a lifestyle decision for a patient. However, ceramic braces have a few disadvantages as well. They are more expensive than metal braces, and because ceramic is brittle, they do not last as long.

How Long Do Self Ligating Braces Take?

Time taken to improve teeth alignment efficiency by using braces is anywhere between one and three years [3]. The exact time period depends on individual patient conditions. This involves factors like teeth crowding, spacing, and other bite-related issues.

Since teeth are embedded in the jaw bone, the process of transformation and readjustment is slow. The force applied by the brace is kept gentle to reduce any form of pain or discomfort. Regular orthodontic visits are a must for making periodic adjustments. Your orthodontist can give you a proper estimate of the time required for the complete treatment.

At present, there is not enough data to prove that self-ligating braces offer better stability and faster results than traditional braces [4] [5]. Considering these types of braces are priced higher, more evidence is required to support the idea that they work faster.

Do Self Ligating Braces Need Tightening?

Self-ligating braces require tightening, the same as traditional metal braces. Adjustments will assist the teeth in moving slowly into new positions. Unless the braces are periodically adjusted into a new position, the wire will lose tension, and the effectiveness of the treatment will be lost.

However, the process of tightening is not the same as with elastic ties. Here, the spring-loaded doors are used to tighten the archwire. This process is much simpler, and hence the average time of each orthodontic session is less.

Self Ligating Braces Pros and Cons

Here is a look at the main pros and cons of self-ligating braces.


  • They are less visible than conventional orthodontic bracket systems.
  • Since they come without ligatures or rubber bands, there is less chance of trapping food particles. This can make the teeth cleaning process easier and reduce the chances of oral infection in some conditions. That being said, braces can increase the chances of dental cavities in children.
  • The time taken for adjustments is less than with conventional braces. This reduces dental chair time for patients.
  • In some cases, the use of self-ligating braces can be less painful as the mechanism allows the use of lighter archwires [6].

Disadvantages of Self Ligating Braces

  • Since they use more advanced technology, self-ligating braces are more expensive than conventional braces.
  • They are not entirely invisible. A visible metal wire remains over the teeth.
  • As with traditional braces, proper oral hygiene is a must to prevent issues like tooth decay and developing cavities.
  • Patients have to deal with the initial discomfort during the adjustment period when the brace is applied.

Self Ligating Braces Cost

The price of self-ligating braces can range anywhere between $2000 and $8,500. This can be partially offset by dental insurance but you should consult your provider to see if this procedure is something that’s covered in your individual plan.

Are Self Ligating Braces More Expensive?

Generally, self-ligating braces cost more than traditional braces. However, the cost also depends on factors like the number of orientation adjustments required and the duration of the treatment. You can expect the overall cost to vary between individual orthodontists.

You can contact your insurance provider to confirm whether the essential elements of the treatment are covered. Also, check if your orthodontist offers any form of payment plan.

Self Ligating Braces Before and After

Self Ligating Braces vs Regular Braces

There are plenty of claims that self-ligating brackets are better than traditional metal ties in terms of efficiency and efficacy. However, many of the claims are not supported by verifiable data.

What Is the Difference Between Regular Braces and Self-Ligating Brackets?

Self-ligating braces come without rubber bands or metal ties called ligatures. They function through special clips or a spring-activated door mechanism on each bracket.

In the case of traditional braces, an orthodontist has to remove the individual elastic bands and apply new ones in every adjustment session. Since self-ligating braces come with movable components, the adjustments on the archwire that runs through every brace are easier to make.

Is Self Ligating Braces Better Than Traditional Braces?

Present research indicates no significant advantage of self-ligating braces over traditional metal braces in treating malocclusions. The standard comparisons are made regarding tooth alignment, treatment duration, space closure, and overall treatment duration [6]. That said, some of the results are contradictory.

More studies are required for the precise evaluation of the various aspects of these brackets.

The fact that self-ligating brackets deliver lower clinical forces or less friction than conventional brackets is also not established fully. In terms of factors like overall treatment time, rate of space closure, rate of teeth alignment, and final arch dimensions, no major difference between self-ligating systems and traditional braces is noticed [5].

When it comes to the pain experienced by patients, there is no clear evidence that self-ligating metal ties perform better than traditional braces [7].

On the other hand, research points out two distinct advantages of the self-ligation method [7]. Firstly, it takes less time to open self-ligating metal slides than traditional rubber bands. This results in faster adjustments and less chair-time for patients. Next, the mandibular incisor inclinations were 1.5° less after the use of self-ligating active brackets.

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Self Ligating Braces vs Aligners

Custom-made teeth aligners are plastic replicas of your teeth. They are used to apply light pressure on the teeth to correct their position by slow realignment. Aligners are less conspicuous than clear braces and are easily removable, so they can be taken out for short periods if needed.

Usually, aligners are less uncomfortable or painful than clear brackets or lingual braces. You can check out the Byte Aligners review to get an idea of the best available options. For the treatment of mild cases, you can take a look at these AlignerCo reviews to get an idea of the before and after results.

Self-ligating braces are more permanent and should not be removed at any period. Since they come with an archwire and brackets that apply pressure, their construction is more complicated. However, they are a more effective choice for severe orthodontic conditions like a misaligned bite.

Note: In both forms of treatment, patients need to use a retainer after the treatment period. The retainers are essential for preserving the alignment of the straight teeth for more extended periods.


Are Self Ligating Braces Right For Me?

Is Self Ligating Braces Better?

Are Self Ligating Braces Worth It?

Are Self Ligating Braces Less Painful?


Self-ligating braces are a good solution for multiple orthodontic problems. As they are more inconspicuous than traditional braces, they are a better choice for some patients. They can also reduce orthodontist appointment times, discomfort, and risks of teeth decay. However, in terms of treatment efficacy, they do not have any significant advantage over traditional brackets.

To find the best solution for your teeth issues and get a healthy bite, consult your orthodontist. Alternatively, you can try Byte Aligners as an efficient at-home method.


  1. KM;, Krishnan M;Kalathil S;Abraham. “Comparative Evaluation of Frictional Forces in Active and Passive Self-Ligating Brackets with Various Archwire Alloys.” American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics : Official Publication of the American Association of Orthodontists, Its Constituent Societies, and the American Board of Orthodontics, U.S. National Library of Medicine,
  2. Yang X;He Y;Chen T;Zhao M;Yan Y;Wang H;Bai D; “Differences between Active and Passive Self-Ligating Brackets for Orthodontic Treatment : Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Based on Randomized Clinical Trials.” Journal of Orofacial Orthopedics = Fortschritte Der Kieferorthopadie : Organ/Official Journal Deutsche Gesellschaft Fur Kieferorthopadie, U.S. National Library of Medicine,
  3. Moresca, Ricardo. “Orthodontic Treatment Time: Can It Be Shortened?” Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, Dental Press International, 2018,
  4. Yu, Zhou, et al. “Stability of Treatment with Self-Ligating Brackets and Conventional Brackets in Adolescents: A Long-Term Follow-up Retrospective Study.” Head & Face Medicine, BioMed Central, 20 Sept. 2014,
  5. Dehbi H;Azaroual MF;Zaoui F;Halimi A;Benyahia H; “Therapeutic Efficacy of Self-Ligating Brackets: A Systematic Review.” International Orthodontics, U.S. National Library of Medicine,
  6. Possible_Advantages_of_Self-Ligating_Brackets_From_Claims_to_Evidence_a_Literature_Review,
  7. Steven D. Marshall G. Frans Currier Nan E. Hatch Greg J. Huang Hyun-Duck Nah Shannon E. Owens Bhavna Shroff Thomas E. Southard Lokesh Suri David L. Turpin. “Self-Ligating Bracket Claims.” Define_me, VOLUME 138, ISSUE 2, 1 Aug. 2010,

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