Self-ligating braces

Braces can be prescribed by the orthodontist to correct misalignments. They might also be necessary to modify the spacing between the teeth or correct an overbite. What happens is that the specialist attaches brackets to the teeth, running a thin metal wire through them. Then, the dentist adjusts the respective wire, which will force the teeth to shift into the desired position. For the wire to remain in the brackets, elastic bands might be used. Self-ligating braces, on the other hand, have an in-built system, so no elastic bands or metal ties are necessary. If you are interested in discovering more information on the topic, do not hesitate to keep on reading.

Self-ligating braces vs. traditional braces

As mentioned above, traditional braces have elastic bands, which hold the aligning wires into place. With self-ligating braces, there are no elastic bands or ties being used. The brackets have a special system to hold the respective wire, with the teeth being aligned at a faster pace. By contrast, traditional braces have to be tightened by the orthodontist every couple of weeks.

The orthodontist will also explain that there are two different types of self-ligating braces. First, you have the active brackets, which use a spring-like mechanism to hold the wire and apply an active force on the teeth. Second, there are the passive brackets, which use a simple sliding mechanism. There is no pressure on the wire with this type. It is worth mentioning that self-ligating braces require adjustments as well. At each appointment, the orthodontist will assess the changes, adjusting or replacing the wire as necessary. Adjustments are required to modify the force exercised on the teeth, so they can gradually shift into the desired position.

There are several advantages to be derived from the absence of rubber bands. First, self-ligating braces are less noticeable, especially if you opt for the clear brackets. There is also a reduced risk of food getting trapped in the brackets, while brushing and flossing are definitely easier. The smaller brackets are more comfortable than those used in traditional metal braces and the shorter office visits are definitely to be appreciated.

What kind of material are self-ligating braces made of?

In most cases, self-ligating braces are made from stainless steel. However, modern versions are more and more often made from other materials, such as ceramics or polycarbonate. You can ask your orthodontist about the different options, as well as the advantages each has to offer. Remember that stainless steel is more durable than ceramic, but the latter is more appealing from an aesthetic point of view.

The cost of self-ligating braces

Self-ligating braces are more expensive than traditional metal braces, the cost being directly related to the technology used. The overall cost might be influenced by other factors, such as the level of correction that is necessary, the treatment length, and the actual orthodontist performing the procedure.

Your orthodontist might suggest a payment plan to help you cover the treatment gradually. In some cases, the dental insurance might cover the partial cost of self-ligating braces, but you should check with your provider first. Insurance providers might offer separate orthodontic plans, which might be useful in such situations.

The cost of self-ligating braces varies between $2,000 and $7,0000. All the aspects of treatment are included: initial consultation, X-rays, orthodontic visits, brackets, wires, etc. The adjustment appointments will be taken into considered as well, but you might have to pay extra for the follow-up retainer. It is for the best to discuss such matters with your orthodontist at the first appointment. Also, do not forget to check if your insurance provider can cover at least part of the orthodontic care or if separate care plans are available.

Cons and pros of self-ligating braces

Cons of self-ligating braces

While wearing self-ligating braces, you might experience either discomfort or pain. However, you should keep in mind that such manifestations are more intense in the first days, or after adjustments. The orthodontist might prescribe pain-relieving medications to ease the symptoms experienced.

Self-ligating braces present a higher risk of wear and tear, due to the repeated opening and closing. Moreover, it might be necessary to replace the brackets, which will extend the treatment duration. Tooth decay is another risk, which is often the result of plaque build-up and inadequate oral hygiene. Last, but not least, if the patient does not wear a retainer after having the self-ligating braces removed, there is a very good chance the teeth will shift into their old positions.

When it comes to severe misalignment, the self-ligating braces might not apply as much pressure as the traditional metal braces. The brackets are smaller in size, which might reduce the effectiveness of one's treatment, especially when it comes to shifting larger teeth in the desired position. Complex cases might do better with traditional metal braces. Given the risk of breakage, the treatment time might be extended. It can happen that the mechanism breaks or becomes loose, requiring repairs or replacements. As a result, you will have to wait longer for the results to become noticeable.

Pros of self-ligating braces

Even though self-ligating braces are known to cause discomfort or pain, it is worth noting that these manifestations are less intense in comparison to those who are wearing traditional braces. Maintaining proper oral hygiene will help with such matters as well.

Upon choosing self-ligating braces, the visits to the orthodontist are bound to be shorter. Patients who wear traditional braces often need for the individual ligatures to be replaced during adjustments. With self-ligating braces, you do not need to worry about such matters. These are also easier to clean, as there are no ligatures. The risk of food particles becoming trapped in and around the brackets is considerably lower. All of these benefits equal a lower level of discomfort, which is a considerate advantage to think about.

As self-ligating braces only use the specialized brackets that clip directly to the wires, they are more discreet. This makes them the perfect choice for those who are self-conscious and do not want to draw too much attention to their orthodontic treatment. The brackets can be either clear or metal, but the wire is always metal-colored.

How does the procedure work?

After the initial consultation, which is necessary to determine if your teeth are healthy, the orthodontist will fix the brackets directly on the teeth. This is done using a special glue or cement, which is then set with a blue light. The wire will be bent and threaded through the brackets, with both ends being secured with specialized metal bands. The latter will go around the molars. The wire will not be connected to the brackets with elastic bands, but rather through a self-holding mechanism.

Are self-ligating braces for me?

The orthodontist will help you answer this question. You will go in for an initial consultation, where he/she will check your teeth and determine if there are any misalignment issues. As a general rule, such braces are recommended only on healthy teeth; if you have other dental problems, you will have to first treat these.

How to take care of your self-ligating braces

After the self-ligating braces have been put into place, the orthodontist will offer advice on how to take care of them. The most important thing is to avoid foods that might damage the braces, such as those that have a hard or crunchy texture. Candy, caramels, and other chewy foods should be avoided as well. The orthodontist might advise you to eliminate anything with sugar from your diet, given the risk of plaque accumulating around the brackets. Fruits and veggies should be cut into small pieces, so as to prevent them from getting stuck in your braces. You might receive a list of foods to eat and a similar one with foods to avoid, so as to stay organized whereas your diet is concerned.

The list of "no" foods might include crackers, popcorn, nuts, pretzels, hard cookies and handy, sticky sweets, gum, and ice. You might also want to avoid biting into hard foods, as this habit can cause damage to the braces. With textured or hard foods, it is for the best to cut these into pieces, if possible. Soft foods are highly encouraged, including pasta, yoghurt and soft fruits. A healthy diet will help you maintain excellent oral health, which is beneficial for the orthodontic treatment as well.

To keep the braces in the best possible state and reduce the risk of dental issues, you will have to maintain your oral hygiene at the highest possible standards. As recommended, it is for the best to brush and floss after every meal. This will help you remove small food particles from around or under the brackets. In addition, you might want to use mouthwash, thus removing larger particles. Brush gently, with clean strokes, so as to avoid damaging the braces. When flossing, be sure to cover all the surfaces of the teeth. If you are not sure how to floss while wearing the self-ligating braces, be sure to ask your orthodontist.

Do not skip your follow-up appointments, as these are necessary to make the adjustments to your braces, but also to identify potential dental issues that might need to be treated. Plaque tends to accumulate around the brackets and wires, increasing the risk of tooth decay and swollen gums. You might need professional cleaning to remove the accumulated plaque. If dental problems bother you while wearing the braces, do not delay and schedule an appointment with your dentist. The sooner these are addressed, the sooner you will feel better.

Frequently asked questions

When are self-ligating braces recommended?

As the orthodontist might point out, self-ligating braces can correct a wide array of problems. Just like traditional braces, they are recommended for orthodontic malocclusions, but also for overbite, crowding, and gaps. The orthodontist might advise on such braces for more severe cases or when other types of aligners have failed to provide the desired results. Impacted teeth benefit from such procedures, with the patient having to wear a clear aligner afterwards.

Who should get self-ligating braces?

Self-ligating braces are recommended to any person who is interested in a healthy, straight smile. This orthodontic treatment is comfortable and efficient, being best suited for those who prefer a shorter treatment duration, with fewer and less time-consuming office visits. Moreover, they are less noticeable than other orthodontic appliances, so the aesthetic factor might represent a strong factor to take into consideration.

Do self-ligating braces break easily?

Self-ligating braces are resistant, but they present a higher risk of breaking. The locking door of the self-ligating brackets might break or become loose, due to the repeated action of closing and opening. Unfortunately, it might be necessary to repair or replace the braces altogether.

How long does one have to wear self-ligating braces?

The duration of the treatment depends on how severe one's misalignment is, as well as the state of the braces. Should these break, requiring repair or replacement, the treatment duration will prolong. On average, the orthodontic appliance is worn between 12 and 30 months. You can discuss the factors influencing the treatment duration with your orthodontist.

Are self-ligating braces easier to clean?

Yes, self-ligating braces are easier to clean than the traditional metal braces. This is because these braces do not have elastic bands or metal ties. However, you will still have to maintain excellent oral hygiene, so as to reduce the risk of additional dental issues. As stated above, the dentist can give you tips on how to take care of both your teeth and the actual braces.

In conclusion, self-ligating braces can be worn by those who desired to have straighter teeth, reducing the risk of additional dental issues. Made from stainless steel, ceramics, or polycarbonate, they represent a modern orthodontic treatment, with great results. The orthodontist will take his/her time to explain the procedure, offering advice on how to care for the braces. You might also receive recommendations for your diet, as you have seen above. Keep in mind that such treatments might not be covered by insurance, you will need to check with your provider first and foremost. You might be able to purchase a separate orthodontic plan to cover the associated costs.

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