Metal braces: what they are, different kinds, and their price

28 December · 5 minutes

In a world where innovaative dental innovation continues to advance rapidly, it is natural that traditional metal braces have been overshadowed by more discreet, faster and modern options. However, before ruling them out completely, it's worth exploring why these orthodontic veterans are still an option for many patients.

Although we are fans of invisible aligners, in this article, we’ll cover what traditional metal braces are, what types there are, and how much they cost. We will also go over the the pros and cons of straightening your teeth using metal braces.

What is the purpose of metal braces?

Metal braces, also known as metallic braces or sometimes metal brackets, are an orthodontic device used to move teeth, to the desired location, as planned by the orthodontist. Traditional metal braces are made of stainless steel, hence the metallic look, and adhere to the teeth to guide their movement and correct alignment problems.

The braces are stuck to the surface of the tooth with a special glue and are connected to each other by an arching wire that applies pressure to the teeth and guides their movement.

Types of metal braces

There are two main kinds of metal braces: traditional and self-ligating. Let’s explore both types of metal braces in detail.

Conventional metal braces

Conventional metal braces are the most traditional. They are made up of three fundamental parts: metal brackets or braces on the teeth, elastic rubber bands (ligatures), and the arch wire that is placed through the braces.

The elastic rubber bands on traditional metal braces serve to secure the wire to the brackets and apply the necessary pressure to move the teeth to the desired position.

Self-ligating metal braces

Self-ligating metal braces are a more modern kind of conventional metal braces.

Unlike conventional ones, self-ligating metal braces do not require elastic rubber bands to hold the wire. Instead, these metal braces have brackets that use a locking mechanism that holds the wire in place. This reduces friction and allows the teeth to move more efficiently. Self-ligating braces are usually metal, but they can also be made from ceramic or plastic materials for a more aesthetically appealing appearance.

Close-up shot of a girl with metal braces.

Orthodontia with metal braces: how does it work?

If you are wondering how metal braces work, you are in the right place! Metal braces work using biomechanical principles to apply controlled pressure to the teeth. This process is responsible for remodeling the bone tissue around the teeth and allows the teeth to gradually move to the desired position. As the teeth move, the wire exerts force, guiding them and creating a better alignment.

The tooth movement process is gradual and controlled to avoid excessive discomfort or damage to the teeth. During treatment, patients should regularly visit their orthodontist to adjust the wire and ensure progress is occurring as planned.

Sometimes, orthodontic work with metal braces requires intermaxillary elastics to correct certain bite problems.

Metal braces procedure

Now that you know how metal braces work, we go over how to get them put on. Let’s take a look at the basic steps for the metal braces procedure:

  1. Preparation: the first step in the metal braces procedure is to clean and dry the tooth surface.
  2. Adhesive Application: A special adhesive or glue is applied to the surface of the teeth where metal braces are attached.
  3. Bracket Placement: The metal brackets are individually bonded to each tooth on which the adhesive has previously been applied. A bracket is placed on the front surface of each tooth.
  4. Wire Placement: Once the brackets are in place, the wire is inserted through them and secured with ligatures or elastic rubber bands, when using conventional metal braces.
  5. Initial Adjustment: After the metal braces are in place and secured, the orthodontist will make initial adjustments to ensure that the wire applies adequate pressure in the desired direction.
  6. Patient instructions: The orthodontist will provide the patient with detailed instructions on the care of metal braces and teeth during treatment.

The placement technique and procedure for metal braces is the same as that used for other types of braces, like ceramic or sapphire braces.

A young person with a mouth opener at the dentist showing him metal braces.

Pros and cons of metal braces

Below we’ll go over the pros and cons of straightening your teeth metal braces.

Benefits of metal braces

Metal braces have several benefits that have made them the most common orthodontic treatment for many years:

  • 1. Effectiveness

Traditional metal braces are highly effective in correcting a wide range of dental problems, from crowding or mild diastema, to severe malocclusions.

  • 2. Durability

Among the benefits of metal braces we find their durability. Traditional metal braces are extremely durable and resistant to wear. They can withstand the chewing forces and pressure exerted during treatment without significant damage.

  • 3. Wide availability

Traditional metal braces, being the most used in recent years, are offered in most orthodontic clinics.

  • 4. Versatility

Orthodontics with metal braces is suitable for treating a variety of dental and bite problems. Orthodontists can customize treatment to each patient's specific needs, just as can be done with invisible aligners.

Disadvantages of metal braces

Although metal braces have numerous benefits, they also have some disadvantages that are important to take into account before opting for this type of orthodontic treatment:

  • 1.  Visibility

One of the disadvantages of metal braces that most worries patients is that they have a very striking impact on dental aesthetics. Today there are equally effective and much more discreet alternatives, like invisible orthodontics.

  • 2. Initial discomfort

It’s common to experience discomfort at the beginning of the metal braces procedure. As the teeth move and feel the pressure exerted by the brackets and wire, it can cause pain and sores in the mouth.

  • 3. Specific care

Metal braces require proper care and maintenance. Patients should learn to carefully clean around the brackets to prevent plaque buildup and tooth decay.

  • 4. Dietary restrictions

Another disadvantage of metal braces is that there are certain foods to avoid, such as hard or sticky foods that can damage the brackets. Patients should also avoid foods such as hard candy, nuts, and chewing gum.

  • 5. Regular clinic visits

Patients should schedule regular visits to their orthodontist for metal braces adjustments and to ensure treatment is progressing as planned.

Caring for metal braces

Proper care for metal braces is essential to maintaining good oral health during your orthodontic treatment. Here are some tips for caring for metal braces and for your teeth:

  • 1. Rigorous oral hygiene

Patients should brush their teeth after each meal, using a soft toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride. Additionally, flossing and using mouthwash can help prevent plaque buildup and cavities.

  • 2. Avoid harmful foods

Some of the disadvantages of metal braces are that patients should avoid hard, sticky, and fibrous foods that can cause problems with the brackets or wire. At Impress we recommend treatments with invisible aligners, which don’t restrict what you can eat since they are removable.

  • 3. Office visits

Patients should schedule and attend check-up appointments with their orthodontist. These appointments are essential for making adjustments, replacing elastic bands, and monitoring treatment progress or metal braces procedure.

  • 4. Sports protection

If the patient practices contact sports or activities that may put metal braces at risk, we recommend using a mouthguard to avoid injuries.

  • 5. Be careful with chewing habits

You should avoid bad chewing habits, such as biting your nails or opening objects with your teeth, to prevent damage to the brackets and wire.

A close-up of a child using an interdental brush between his metal braces.

What’s the cost of metal braces? Metal braces price in the United States

The metal braces price in the United States vary depending on many factors, such as the complexity of the case, the duration, the type of treatment or the clinic you choose, and of course, your insurance policy if you have one.

The price of metal braces in the US changes drastically for those who have access to insurance. We know everyone's situation is different, so it's important to note that the average cost of traditional metal braces before insurance is applied is approximately $3,000 - $7,000, and self-ligating braces price typically falls somewhere between $4,000 - $7,500.

If you’re insured, you should note that most insurance providers at least partially cover the cost of metal braces if not all of it. In order to estimate the cost, you should first check your orthodontic coverage within your personal insurance policy.

Impress invisible orthodontics, the best alternative to metal traditional braces

Orthodontics with traditional metal braces was historically one of the only orthodontic options. But as we’ve mentioned, there are now several other options that don’t include the disadvantages of metal braces, like the discomfort or the impact on dental aesthetics and dietary restrictions. That’s why at Impress we recommend orthodontic treatments with invisible aligners. They are removable, comfortable, easy to clean and nearly invisible.

At Impress we specialize in aligning your teeth with invisible orthodontics. If you want to align your smile with professional orthodontists, contact us at your nearest Impress clinic .

You can a free consultation by sending us an email at careteam@uniformteeth.com, by calling us at 888.490.1421, or by booking online. Discover our prices and orthodontic treatments with zero committments. We can’t wait to see you smile!

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Frequently asked questions about metal braces

What are metal braces made of?

Metal braces are made of mainly a high-quality stainless steel. This material is highly corrosion resistant, plus it’s durable and safe in the your mouth. Stainless steel has an ability to maintain its structural integrity over time, resisting the forces chewing and adjustments during orthodontic treatment. In addition, its smooth surface facilitates dental hygiene by reducing plaque accumulation and the risk of cavities.

What’s the best way to practice dental braces cleaning?

Knowing how to perform a cleaning on your dental braces is vitally important to your oral hygiene. If you want to remove food debris that in your metal braces, first you’ll want to rinse your mouth with warm water and then use an interdental or bracket brush. Finally, be sure to use dental floss under the wire to get those tough to clean spots.

What can I not eat with metal braces?

One of the disadvantages of metal braces is what not to eat while using them. Dietary restrictions on foods can damage them. Among the foods that you should avoid eating with metal braces are hard, sticky and fibrous foods, as they can damage the braces or get trapped in them. Avoid hard candies, nuts, sticky candies, foods with bones or small seeds. You should also avoid tearing foods, such as sandwiches or corn on the cob, as they can detach the brackets.


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