5 Types of Braces Explained: Which One Is Right for You?

Deciding to do something about that crooked smile or misaligned teeth is a big decision. But dealing with months of discomfort and insanely high dentist bills can be off-putting—what other options do you have?

We’ve got the answer for you!

In this article, you’ll learn the different types of braces to choose from, how they work, and the costs of braces treatment. You’re guaranteed to have a better understanding of your options before your next orthodontist appointment.

Quick Overview: What Kind of Braces Are There?

Types of Braces Overview Average Cost Without Insurance Average Cost With Insurance Average Treatment Duration
Clear Aligners Clear plastic trays fitted over your teeth $2000-$7000 $1800-$3500 10-20 months
Traditional Metal Braces Standard metal brackets and wires $3000-$7500 $1300-$3750 18-24 months
Ceramic Braces Enamel colored brackets and wires $3000-$8500 $1500-$4750 18-24 months
Self-Ligating Braces Clip adjusted brackets, not rubber bands $2000-$7000 $1300-$3700 12-20 months
Lingual Braces Metal brackets and wires placed behind the teeth $7500-$13000 $3500-$9250 18-24 months

In a Nutshell

Clear aligners are the most-affordable and fastest working type of braces on the market. They aren’t good for very severe cases, but are excellent with mild to moderate teeth straightening needs.

If that’s what you’re looking for, Byte Clear Aligners are among the few clear aligners actually approved by the FDA.

How Do Braces Work?

When people think about orthodontic braces, they probably picture the shiny metal contraptions with bulky brackets and uncomfortable rubber bands. But braces today have come a long way over the years, and new technology has made dental braces more effective, less noticeable, and more comfortable than ever before.

Braces are devices used by orthodontists and some general dentists to correct dental problems like overcrowding, misaligned teeth, and bite issues. These braces straighten teeth by putting pressure on the teeth and gums, moving them gently and slowly into better alignment. The patient only has to wear the braces consistently for the duration of the orthodontic treatment.

There’s no age limit on getting braces, and adult braces are becoming more popular. The two things that orthodontists look for when deciding on the right braces treatment for their patients are permanent teeth and a healthy jaw bone.

Type of Braces for Teeth

There’s a variety of options when it comes to teeth straightening, all dependent on affordability and style. You’ll see that some braces are cheaper, but the treatment time is much longer. There are also more discreet orthodontic options for anyone self-conscious of their overall appearance.

Here’s a detailed look at the 5 different kinds of braces and treatments available.

1. Clear Aligners

Average Cost Who Are They For?  Can You Remove Them? Maintenance 
$2000-$7000
  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crowded teeth
  • Gap teeth
  • Open bite
  • Misaligned primary teeth
Yes
  • Must be worn each day for at least 20 hours.
  • Removable for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing.
  • Easy to clean
  • New aligner tray required every 1 to 2 weeks.
  • At-home aligner option with no in-office visit requirement.

Clear aligners are the latest type of braces technology that offers an alternative to traditional orthodontic treatment. Aligners are thin transparent plastic trays that fit over the lower and upper teeth to encourage gradual movement over time but only if worn consistently.

Aligners are not attached to your teeth and therefore are removable. They must be replaced with a new tray every 7-14 days as the pressure applied by the aligners gently shifts your teeth into correct alignment.

There are two aligner service options—in-office orthodontic aligners and mail-order, at-home aligners.

For in-office aligners like Invisalign, it’s necessary to make an appointment with your dentist, who will then suggest a course of treatment. You’ll need to attend regular office visits as the orthodontist closely monitors your progress. Treatment lasts anywhere between 6-18 months.

At-home aligners put the entire process in your hands. You’ll take impressions and pictures of your teeth and send them off to a dentist or orthodontist, who will then construct your aligners.

There’s no need for in-office visits as a dentist or orthodontist will measure your progress remotely. Treatment time with at-home aligners is three to six months shorter than in-office orthodontic treatments.

The best of at-home aligners is Byte, who also happen to be one of the few at-home aligners that are approved by the FDA.

Pros

  • More aesthetically pleasing and almost invisible.
  • Can be less expensive than traditional braces.
  • Fewer potential problems like wires breaking.
  • Easier to clean.
  • Can be taken out of the mouth for short periods.

Cons

  • Not appropriate for more complex dental issues.
  • Must be removed before eating and drinking.
  • Requires self-discipline to keep aligners on your teeth consistently for 20-22 hours.

2. Traditional Metal Braces

Average Cost Who Are They For?  Can You Remove Them? Maintenance 
$3000-$7500
  • Overcrowding
  • Crooked teeth
  • Gap teeth
  • Overbite
  • Overjet
  • Underbite
  • Jaw misalignment
  • Crossbite
No
  • Must brush and floss after every meal.
  • Brushing and flossing can be difficult.
  • Mouth irritation is typical in the first few months.
  • Must avoid some foods.
  • Must attend regular orthodontist checkups and cleanings.
  • Brackets need adjustment every couple of weeks.

Traditional metal braces are the most popular and effective orthodontic solution, especially if you have severe misalignment or overcrowded teeth. These kinds of braces have metal brackets attached to each tooth. The brackets act as handles for the archwire to grab onto as it creates steady pressure and gradual movement to shift the tooth into place.

Your orthodontist closely monitors treatment as regular adjustments are necessary to achieve the desired look.

Although these types of braces are most popular with adolescents and teens as they can choose to add different color brackets and bands to create a personal style. More adults are choosing to wear metal braces because of the improved comfort and efficiency. Mini braces, which have smaller brackets than traditional braces, are another popular option for adults.

Pros

  • Very effective in handling most dental alignment issues.
  • Least expensive option than other braces.
  • Appropriate for those with severe alignment issues.
  • A preferred option for kids and teens who can choose multi-colored brackets and wires.

Cons

  • The most noticeable option.
  • It may be painful for the lips, tongue, and cheeks.
  • Cleaning is necessary after every meal and can be time-consuming.
  • There are substantial food and beverage restrictions.

3. Ceramic Braces

Average Cost Who Are They For?  Can You Remove Them? Maintenance 
$3000-$8500
  • Overcrowding
  • Crooked teeth
  • Gap teeth
  • Overbite
  • Overjet
  • Underbite
  • Jaw misalignment
  • Crossbite
No
  • Must brush and floss after every meal.
  • Brushing and flossing can be difficult.
  • Mouth irritation is typical in the first few months.
  • Must avoid some foods.
  • Must attend regular orthodontist dental checkups and cleaning.
  • Brackets need adjustment every couple of weeks.

Ceramic braces or clear braces are similar to traditional braces as they both use a system of brackets and wires affixed to the teeth causing a gentle shift in alignment. But the main difference with orthodontic ceramic braces is the material they’re made of.

These types of braces are made with clear polycrystalline alumina. This tooth-colored ceramic material is more expensive than stainless steel metal braces and can be more fragile, increasing breakage. Moreover, the light color of the brackets and wires of ceramic braces are more susceptible to staining over time.

That being said, tooth-colored ceramic braces or clear braces are very popular with adults wanting a more discreet orthodontic treatment while maintaining the effectiveness and reliability of metal braces.

Pros

  • Same efficient technology as traditional metal braces.
  • Enamel-colored brackets are almost invisible.
  • Brackets are smoother for more comfortable wear.

Cons

  • Cost is higher than traditional metal braces.
  • Brackets are more likely to stain because of their light color.
  • Bracket damage is possible if worn on lower teeth.

4. Self Ligating Braces

Average Cost Who Are They For?  Can You Remove Them? Maintenance 
$2000-$7000
  • Overcrowding
  • Crooked teeth
  • Gap teeth
  • Overbite
  • Overjet
  • Underbite
  • Jaw misalignment
  • Crossbite
  • Impacted teeth
No 
  • Must brush and floss after every meal.
  • Brushing and flossing can be difficult.
  • Mouth irritation is typical in the first few months.
  • Must avoid some foods.
  • Must attend regular orthodontist dental checkups and cleaning.
  • Half as many appointments for manual adjustments.

Self-ligating braces use the same technology to strengthen teeth as traditional metal braces but can be more comfortable and easier to tolerate. These types of braces do not require the use of elastic bands or metal ties and are less obvious in appearance.

Self-ligating braces use tiny spring-loaded doors to maintain pressure on the archwires, which gently move your teeth into place. With no bands to adjust or tighten, in-office orthodontist appointment times are much shorter and spaced further apart than traditional braces.

Oral hygiene tends to be easier with self-ligating braces. Elastic ties on traditional braces can cause friction making them uncomfortable to clean underneath the braces properly and can trap food. By eliminating these bands, the orthodontic braces become more comfortable, and there’s less chance of food particles getting stuck leading to tooth decay.

Pros

  • The smaller brackets may be more comfortable.
  • Comes with clear brackets for a more discreet look.
  • Food is less likely to get trapped, making it easier to brush and floss.
  • In-office adjustment time is shorter due to no elastic rubber bands.

Cons

  • More expensive than traditional braces, especially for complex adjustments.
  • The locking mechanism may get stuck or break, slowing down treatment.
  • Small brackets may not be as effective for rotating larger teeth.

5. Lingual Braces

Average Cost Who Are They For?  Can You Remove Them? Maintenance 
$7500-$13000
  • Overcrowding
  • Crooked teeth
  • Gap teeth
  • Overbite
  • Overjet
  • Underbite
  • Jaw misalignment
  • Crossbite
  • Impacted teeth
No
  • Must brush after every meal.
  • Brushing and flossing can be difficult.
  • Mouth irritation is typical in the first few months.
  • Must avoid some foods.
  • Must attend regular orthodontist dental checkups and cleaning.
  • Needs adjustment every few weeks.

Lingual braces work the same as traditional and ceramic braces except that these orthodontic braces rest on the back of the teeth, making them completely invisible. It does take a while to get accustomed to the feel of these types of braces on your tongue, but the sensation passes over time.

Lingual braces are the most expensive option to straighten teeth on the list but are also highly effective in correcting most bite problems. For an additional fee, they can be custom designed to the exact shape of your mouth, making them more comfortable and decreasing your treatment time.

It is important to note that the level of discomfort with lingual braces is very high, and many patients experience soreness the first few months. You also risk minor injuries to your tongue, cheeks, and the soft tissues of your mouth from protruding wires, and there’s a high chance that you will develop a lisp for a short period.

Pros

  • Virtually invisible.
  • Can be custom-made for comfort and effectiveness.
  • Effective on most bite issues.
  • Stains left on teeth due to poor oral hygiene during treatment will not be noticeable.

Cons

  • Speech will be affected for a short period.
  • More painful, especially the tongue and soft tissue of the mouth.
  • More expensive than other options.
  • Treatment time is longer.

What About Fake Braces/DIY Braces?

Fake Braces and Do it Yourself Braces are look-alike products that imitate the appearance of real orthodontic braces, but these types of braces are not effective and can, in fact, pose a health risk to your teeth.

Fake braces consist of metal, wires, brackets, and rubber bands that adhere to your teeth. These are sometimes worn for months at a time and can negatively affect teeth alignment and oral health. It’s also important to note that most of these products found online are made with unknown or questionable material that should not be inside your mouth.

DIY braces are a fad worn mainly by teenagers who want the appearance of actual braces. They create these DIY braces with colorful beads glued onto wire or paper clips. They’re only meant to be worn for a short time, but like fake braces, these unknown materials should not go inside your mouth for any length of time and are quite dangerous.

What Kind of Braces Are the Best For Me?

Only your dentist and orthodontist can provide medical advice about which braces to wear, but there are a few questions to ask yourself before your next dental appointment.

Types of Braces

What are your dental needs? The kind of braces you get directly depends on your orthodontic needs and your treatment goals. Traditional braces or ceramic braces will be a better option if you have severe lower jaw misalignment, overcrowding, or impacted teeth.

What appearance do you desire? Yes, traditional braces are more efficient for complex cases, and adolescents tend to prefer these types of braces, but they are also very noticeable. If you want something more discreet, clear aligners, lingual braces, or tooth-colored ceramic braces may be more suitable.

What’s the duration of treatment? Each of these options has varying times for orthodontic treatment. If you prefer a speedier treatment time for a specific occasion such as a wedding or vacation, self-ligation or invisible aligners will be your best bet.

What can you afford? How much do braces cost is an important question. Lingual braces are by far the most expensive but worth it if you have more complex bite issues while also being self-conscious about your appearance.

Clear aligners are the most convenient and affordable option, but keep in mind that although most clear aligner companies have FDA approval, the American Dental Association and Association of Orthodontists do not approve of mail-order aligners. Fortunately, most orthodontists offer payment plans and financial assistance for some dental procedures.

FAQ

Here are a few more questions we found that many have asked when getting braces for the first time.

What Type of Braces Work the Fastest?

What Is the Cheapest Type of Braces?

What’s the Most Expensive Type of Braces?

How Long Do Adults Wear Braces?

Conclusion

There are various options to choose from when deciding on how to attain the perfect smile. With improved technology, even the most traditional braces are more comfortable and affordable than years ago.

If you want more control and have great self-discipline, you can always go the route of mail-in invisible aligners and skip the hassle of going to a dentist’s office every couple of weeks.

No matter which option you choose, your dentist and orthodontist will be able to provide more information on your specific needs and guide you in the right direction.

5 Types of Braces Explained: Which One Is Right for You?

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