Fact: Self-ligating braces are gaining in popularity. This type of orthodontic appliance is nothing new; in fact, self-ligating braces have actually been around since the 1930s but began to become somewhat popular in the ‘80s. Since then, they have really taken off within the past few years. This is due to a number of reasons:
- Less “chair-time” and fewer visits to the orthodontist
- They can cause less friction and discomfort and can be potentially easier on teeth
- No ligature such as color bands, elastics, or metal ties
- They could be easier to clean
What are Self-ligating Braces?
Self-ligating braces are placed much like conventional braces, with the exception of ligature: No elastic or rubber bands or metal ties are present because they are not needed. Instead, special clips or brackets are used to help the archwire move your teeth into place. The clips allow greater freedom of tooth movement; thereby they might reduce the discomfort that is sometimes associated with traditional ligature. A simple adjustment is made to the brackets or clips, which saves time and causes less discomfort during routine visits with your orthodontist.
Depending on the case, self-ligating braces are also easier on your teeth and could reduce the amount of pressure and friction for many who wear them. There are two types of self-ligating brackets:
- Passive brackets
These are applied and use a smaller size archwire. The smaller archwire creates less friction and will allow your teeth to move more freely. Your orthodontist will most likely use this application at the beginning of treatment.
- Active brackets
These will use a thicker archwire and will deliver more pressure onto teeth, thereby moving them more efficiently to where they ideally should be.
With self-ligating braces, visits to your orthodontist could be less frequent, and will potentially cause less discomfort than with traditional braces. A study was conducted by The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics and states this: Self-ligating bracket systems displayed a significantly lower level of frictional resistance, dramatically less chair-time for archwire removal and insertion, and promoted improved infection control, when compared with polyurethane elastomeric and stainless steel tie wire ligation for ceramic and metal twin brackets.
Depending on the manufacturing company they also could be smaller than regular braces, which make them more attractive to wearers, and they are available in self-ligating metal or ceramic braces, lingual braces. However, although the braces are smaller, they do tend to stand further off your teeth and can possibly cause more irritation to your lips and cheeks. But with dental wax and time, this will not be a problem for most.
As with regular brackets, the self-ligating appliances are attached to your teeth with a special adhesive and are not removable for the duration of the orthodontic procedure. Therefore, good oral hygiene is imperative to a successful outcome. Abstaining from sugar, hard foods, food and drink that can stain teeth, and highly acidic food and drinks are to be avoided, as well.
The good news is that self-ligating braces are easier to keep clean due to the lack of elastic, rubber, or metal ties, but taking time to brush and floss as you would with regular braces is still a necessary and beneficial part of your daily routine.
Can Anyone Wear Self-ligating Braces?
As with any major decision, a good orthodontist can consult with you to determine whether conventional braces, Invisalign, lingual or self-ligating braces will work best for your set of circumstances. It will all depend on the severity of your misaligned bite. Only an experienced orthodontist should make such an important decision for you to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your smile.