Types of orthodontic appliances

Metal braces

These braces are made up of little metal pieces called brackets cemented to each tooth.  There is a wire running through the brackets that is held in place by an o-ring.  The o-rings are available in a variety of colours and these are chosen by the patient at each visit. 

White braces

With these braces the brackets are ceramic and white in colour.  The wire may be silver or in some cases tooth coloured.  The wire is usually held into the bracket by a clear o-ring or a white coated metal tie.

Self ligating braces

These brackets may be metal, ceramic or a combination of the two.  The brackets have a clip to hold the wire rather than an o-ring or tie.  These brackets may make the treatment proceed a little quicker.

Functional appliances

These appliances work by posturing the lower jaw forwards and this stretches the muscles that move the lower jaw.  This stretching transmits a force to the teeth that results in movement of teeth.  These appliances can be removable, for example a twinblock which consists of upper and lower plates; or can consist of metal components attached directly to the teeth.

Plates

These appliances are used to correct simple orthodontic problems like crossbites and are often though not exclusively used in younger patients.  They are limited in the types of tooth movements they can achieve.

Invisalign

This system of straightening teeth uses a series of clear plastic aligners with each aligner being worn for two weeks before moving on to the next.  The aligners have the benefit of not looking like “braces”, and make cleaning the teeth easier as the aligner is removed for brushing and flossing.