The truth is that self-ligating brackets have been around for decades, the treatment was offered initially during the 1930s and became increasingly popular during the 80s. After the eighties hype went down, other orthodontic treatments were preferred. It was only when new materials, technology, and application methods were implemented that self-ligating braces gained their attraction back, and since, have been more popular than ever.
Their popularity is well-founded as these types of braces offer many benefits compared to traditional braces, and patients who want to improve their smiles choose them due to several reasons:
- Less “chair-time” and fewer visits to the orthodontist
- They can cause less friction and discomfort while moving your teeth
- They help reduce risks to your teeth by applying moderate force over them
- There’s no need for additional ligatures such as color bands, elastics, or metal ties
- It’s easier to keep them clean
What are Self-ligating Braces?
Self-ligating braces are very similar to traditional metal braces, with one notable exception: the elastic ligature. It is a great advantage not to use elastic bands or metal ties, as they are not required for the treatment’s effectiveness.
Furthermore, as you do not have elastic bands, your oral hygiene will be easier and less challenging. The problem with elastic bands is that they tend to make the oral environment more susceptible to bacterial concentration, creating not the best conditions for maintaining a good oral hygiene routine.
Instead, this innovative design uses special clips on the brackets to help the archwire move your teeth into place. The clips allow greater freedom of tooth movement; therefore, they might reduce the discomfort that is sometimes associated with a traditional rubber band. Basically, self-ligating brackets require minor adjustments to advance through each stage of the treatment, saving you time and causing far less discomfort during routine visits to 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. Plus, they seek to address some difficulties inherent to traditional ligation designs. So let’s take a deeper look into the two varieties of self-ligating braces we have:
Passive Self Ligating Braces (PSLB)
These braces use a smaller size archwire while maximizing space between each bracket. This combination of design elements helps considerably reduce friction while allowing the appliance a wider range of motion. Your orthodontist will most likely use this application at the beginning of orthodontic treatment.
PSLBs don’t use the same clips as their Active force counterparts in an effort to be as less intrusive as possible and reduce friction as much as they can. This slight variation in design makes any motion to be more compatible with the natural movements followed by your dental structures.
However, your orthodontist won’t be able to control torque as much as with ASLBs, but rest assured that you will know everything you need before treatment starts.
Active Self Ligating Braces (ASLB)
These braces will use a thicker archwire and deliver more pressure onto teeth, thereby moving them more efficiently to where they ideally should be. You could make an argument that active self-ligating braces are more efficient, but it all depends on each case and your orthodontist will address all the possibilities and outcomes that are best for you.
Self-ligating braces mean less discomfort and a minor number of visits to your orthodontist the main feature and advantage of the treatment is that it allows a better range of movement while minimizing friction. A study conducted by The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics states:
“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.”
Will My Orthodontic Treatment Be Faster?
Keep in mind that everyone’s case will be slightly different. Your treatment’s efficiency is highly dependent on multiple factors, including genetic ones. Some patients’ journeys with us are much shorter and still provide them with a near-perfect smile. The biology of tooth movement is complex, and it requires careful planning and execution.
Some types of orthodontic appliances are more efficient at different stages of your treatment. Active, self-ligating braces can help move teeth faster during the initial treatment phases, but moving them from the root will undoubtedly take patience.
Another difference is that because of this unique design, you could spend less time in the office for adjustments, we could even space out more of your visits, but this will significantly depend on other factors.
A prevalent inconvenience that prolongs treatment length is failing to restrict a patient’s diet. If you ignore warnings about what not to eat and continuously break your braces, your treatment will take considerably longer than that of a patient who avoids damaging their braces.
After all, it is a fact that some patients who are compliant with their orthodontist’s instructions also present fewer bracket failures.
Are These Brackets Any Better?
Research is ongoing. There are many claims about the benefits of using self-ligating braces beyond those we explained below. The self-ligating design increases the force application efficiency throughout the brackets and for the duration of the treatment.
However, there are indeed some published studies documenting cases where researchers state that the change in design resulted in the perks mentioned above; but we also have to consider that those studies are mostly retrospective, meaning there could also exist other factors contributing to the desired results.
Will I Feel Discomfort During Treatment?
Depending on the manufacturing company, the brackets could be smaller than traditional metal braces, making them more attractive to wearers as a discreet option.
A word of advice: although the braces are smaller, they tend to stand further off your teeth and can potentially result in more irritation to your lips and cheeks. Still, self-ligating technologies are available to traditional metal braces, ceramic alternatives, and lingual braces.
A helpful tip to overcome this is to use dental wax to protect the softer tissues on the inside of your mouth. Rinsing your mouth with salt water will also help deal with the irritation. In the end, as time goes on, this will not be a problem for most.
Keeping Good Oral Hygiene
As with traditional braces, the self-ligating appliances are bonded 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.
Please remember to abstain from excessive sugar, hard foods, food and drink that can stain teeth, and highly acidic food and beverages. Whenever a patient needs to use orthodontic appliances, they are at an increased risk of developing cavities. Food particles will get stuck in your braces or between the brackets and wires and your teeth.
The good news is that you can easily clean these appliances because self-ligating brackets don’t have elastic, rubber, or metal ties. However, you will still need to take the time required to brush and floss. With or without braces, brushing and flossing are still a necessary and beneficial part of your daily routine.
Are There Limitations to These Types of Braces?
As with any significant decision, you can consult your orthodontist 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 has the knowledge to make valid recommendations about the treatment you need. Such an important decision needs to consider many elements to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your smile.
Self-ligating braces can be an excellent choice for many orthodontic conditions. We can use them to treat most orthodontic complications. This includes individuals with severe cases of crowding teeth and spacing and other conditions such as overbites or crossbites.
Severe cases of jaw malocclusions or malalignments might not be eligible for this treatment because they may put too much pressure on the clips of your braces, causing them to break.
Always consult with your Alpharetta orthodontist before engaging in any treatment.
Likewise, you should consider the point we mentioned above about the increased initial discomfort due to the higher profile of the brackets. Talk to your orthodontist to determine if the lip discomfort is worth it. Additionally, it would be best to consider that these appliances may not always be available in discreet material alternatives.
Still, we would remind all our readers that the most important part of receiving orthodontic treatment is improving your dental health and correcting problems related to orthodontic complications.
Making a Move
We hope you found our blog about self-ligating braces useful and educational! If you are interested in getting self-ligating braces but still have questions or concerns, please reach out to our Johns Creek orthodontist.
We have lots of information on our website, but we are ready to answer your call if you have specific questions. Make sure to review the treatments available at our practice and set up your next appointment for orthodontic treatment.