There are widely considered to be four main types of brace available. They are:

Fixed braces

A fixed brace is a brace with brackets and bands which are stuck to the teeth for the duration of your treatment. A flexible wire joins all the brackets and allows the teeth to be moved. You can't take the appliance out yourself, so it is called a fixed appliance. Treatment usually takes between 12 and 24 months but could take longer if the problem is severe.

Removable braces

Simpler treatment may be carried out with a removable brace (a plate that can be taken out to be cleaned). It has delicate wires and springs attached, which move the teeth using gentle pressure. Removable braces usually take less time than a fixed brace. However, if you haven’t worn a removable brace previously, you might also need to wear one before and after you have finished your treatment with a fixed brace. This is dependent on each person’s condition.

Functional braces

It is sometimes possible to change the way the jaws grow, using a functional brace. This works by using the power of your jaw muscles and can help with certain types of problems.

Cosmetic braces

Several sets of specially moulded, slightly different aligners are made for each patient. Each set is worn for two weeks before being replaced with the next one. They are made from clear plastic, so they are nearly invisible. The aligners should be worn for 22 to 23 hours a day for the best results. They can be easily removed for eating, drinking, brushing, and for cleaning in between your teeth. You need to have all your adult teeth before you can have this treatment and depending on the scale of the problem they are not suitable for everyone.

What are the brackets on braces made up of?

Fixed braces are not always made of metal. Plastic and ceramic can be used, especially for adults. With ceramic braces in particular, the brackets are less noticeable as they are tooth-coloured or clear that blend into the surroundings.

What is headgear?

As well as a brace some people with slightly more exceptional circumstances may need to wear headgear. You usually only need to wear it in the evening or at night. If you do not wear it in the way you have been told, you may be disadvantaged at the end of your treatment. It is common for front teeth to stick out post-treatment if you haven’t adhered to common practice.

What are elastics?

Sometimes delicate elastic bands are attached to a fixed brace to help move the teeth. Your orthodontist will tell you if you need elastics.

“Elastics” are an important part of the orthodontic treatment; they provide the connective force necessary to move the teeth and jaw into the proper alignment.

Related pages

  - Learning about braces

  - Videos about braces

  - Top tips