What You Need to Know About Self-Ligating Braces

Ceramic self-ligating braces on smiling woman's teeth

Two of the most common questions orthodontists hear from new patients are about the length of treatment and the comfort level they will experience in braces. The third is how visible will they be.

Although highly effective (and usually more cost effective), traditional braces are always the subject of scrutiny when it comes to both of those issues. Technological advancements in orthodontics are constantly looking at alternatives to improving on the level of discomfort as well as time spent undergoing treatment.

One of those alternatives to consider is self-ligating brackets—also known as Damon Braces or Smart Brackets.

What are Self-Ligating Braces?

In the case of your more traditional braces, the orthodontist uses elastics to keep the archwire on the bracket. In self-ligating braces, the archwire is held in place by the bracket itself by closing a small, spring-loaded door.

Although the popularity of this bracket style has climbed over the last 10 years or so, the system itself has been around since the mid-1930s. There are numerous manufacturers of this type of bracketing system.

Here are some of the facts you should consider before making a decision about whether to choose self-ligating braces.

Potential Advantages of Self-Ligating Braces

Better Efficiency at Visits

Because closing the door (or gate) on the braces is generally a speedier process than putting elastics around each bracket to hold the archwires in place (as in the case of traditional braces), patients will be in and out of the office quicker.

Reduced Discomfort

Example of type of self-ligating bracket. There is some evidence that suggests as there without the use of ligating elastic bands to attach the archwire to the bracket (as you see in traditional brace setups), the wire in the bracket slots minimizes the friction and as such the force required to move teeth.

This in turn is believed to reduce the discomfort patients might experience. Again, it is important to note that it is a reduction in general soreness, it doesn’t completely remove it.

Faster Treatment

There have been claims made that self-ligating braces have helped to shorten treatment time by up to six months, but it can be dependent on what type of malocclusion is being addressed as well as the severity of it.

Stick Free

One of the annoyances experienced by the typical braces-wearer is that the latex material on the elastics and rubber bands is notorious for trapping food, and providing the perfect environment for plaque to form. Self-ligating braces eliminate the need for elastics, so those wearers who might not be as fastidious with there cleaning and flossing will experience much cleaner smiles during their treatment.

Appearance Options

Self-ligating braces come in both metal and clear brackets, so those concerned about the appearance of their braces can choose a less conspicuous route.

Potential Downsides to Self-Ligating Braces

Higher Cost

Not surprisingly, the more advanced bracket system that comprises self-ligating braces are more expensive than traditional metal brackets.

Not Totally Transparent

Although self-ligating braces come with the option of clear brackets, there still is a visible metal wire that runs across the upper and lower teeth.

Initially Irritating

Though relatively discomfort-free for most of your treatment, there is an adjustment period that many patients experience when the orthodontist first applies them (as well as when they are adjusted) which can last for several days.

Whatever option for braces you choose, Orthodontic Associates will help to ensure your decision is well-informed, and based on the course of treatment that is right for you. To inquire about our options available to you, contact one of our friendly staff members at any of our nine locations in the Baltimore area. We look forward to making you smile.


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