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For comprehensive braces, we use self-ligating braces exclusively. These braces have a small door or clip that holds the wire in the brace. Formerly, a rubber ring or small wire was used for this purpose. The self-ligating braces have been a major advance in braces efficiency and comfort. Due to Dr. Lawrence’s position as a professor at Case Western Reserve School of Dentistry, he is able to evaluate all the various manufacturer’s products and select the best ones for his private office.
Self-Ligating Braces are a Major Advancement
Braces can now hold the wire in place without any “ligation” from rubber “o-rings” or stainless steel ligature wires. There have been several generations of this technology, and the present designs are a step above traditional bracket designs.
Advantage #1: Shorter Treatment Times
Because these brackets have less friction, the wire no longer needs to overcome the inherent “o-ring” friction that prevents wires from moving teeth. In addition, there is no elastic ring to wear out, so the wire is always fully engaged in the bracket. For the majority of malocclusions, we are seeing about 6 months less treatment time.
Advantage #2: Greater Comfort
Due to the lower friction, there is less non-productive force placed on the teeth, resulting in much less discomfort. Additionally, the new generation wires deliver varied forces to the teeth, with smaller rooted teeth receiving less force.
Advantage #3: Extended Adjustment Intervals
The combination of self-ligating brackets with wires that have shape memory and are mouth temperature activated, allow many adjustments to occur at 10 week intervals instead of the traditional 4-6 week intervals. With today’s hectic schedules, longer intervals mean great results with improved convenience to patients and parents.
The traditional braces are advantageous and used in Phase I treatments because the additional friction is needed due to the fewer number of braces in each jaw. (And kids like picking the colors!)
Lingual Braces (Behind the Teeth)
A new self-ligating design has finally made lingual braces a reality. It is a superior choice to Invisalign for most patients. Although bite correction is not possible, it is a nice option for patients who desire straighter front teeth but do not want to “wear braces.”