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Traditionally, braces consist of brackets attached to the teeth with an archwire connecting the brackets. Some braces have rubber bands, known as ligatures, to hold the archwire in place. Self-ligating braces do not use rubber bands but instead use a built-in system to hold the archwire in place.
Self-ligating braces have been around for many years, with ‘Russell Lock’ edgewise attachment described in literature as early as 1935.1
They have become more popular over the years, with new designs becoming more widely available. According to one study, by 2008, all major orthodontic companies offered some form of self-ligating appliance.2
Benefits and potential drawbacks of self-ligating braces include:
While traditional and self-ligating braces are similar, they have several differences:
While traditional braces have rubber band ligatures, or ties, self-ligating braces do not. They work by using a system of sliding mechanisms or spring clips to hold the wire in place, depending on what kind of self-ligating system is used.
Self-ligating braces can treat most of the same malocclusions as traditional braces.
These may include:
There is some evidence to suggest that self-ligating braces may be more effective than conventional braces during the initial alignment stages.4
Although all types of braces can cause discomfort as they move the teeth, some studies suggest that self-ligating braces are less painful than traditional braces since they apply less pressure to the teeth.5 Metal braces, including traditional braces and self-ligating braces, can also rub against the lining of the mouth, which can cause irritation.
Adjustments typically take less time for self-ligating braces since there are no ligatures to remove and replace. This means less time in the orthodontist’s office during appointments.
Several studies have looked at the differences in treatment times between traditional braces and self-ligating braces. One study found no difference in the duration of treatment between the two.6
Self-ligating braces may be more effective at treating certain issues. For example, a 2016 study found that self-ligating braces were more effective than traditional braces in closing the gaps caused by tooth extraction.7
Another 2019 study found that self-ligating braces may be more efficient than conventional braces during initial alignment.4
Overall, treatment times are roughly the same, with some small variations.
The cost of self-ligating braces is typically higher than the cost of traditional braces. This is because self-ligating braces use newer technology.
Pricing varies depending on several factors, such as the orthodontist’s expertise and location and the severity of the malocclusion.
Self-ligating braces may be right for you if you:
There are also many different options for straightening your teeth and perfecting your smile.
Instead of using rubber bands, self-ligating braces use the brackets themselves to hold the archwire in place.
There are many different designs of brackets available, including:2
There are two different types of self-ligating brackets:3
Self-ligating braces still require tightening, but this may be less frequent than with traditional braces.
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