When your teeth are crooked or have problematic jaws or a misaligned bite, you will visit your dentist to seek a solution to these problems. One of the oldest treatments to these challenges is the metal braces. These devices correct your teeth' appearance, but they also help improve your speech and enhance your teeth’ cleanliness. Metal braces are also referred to as traditional braces. As dental technology advances, metal braces also have advanced. They are now smaller, sleeker, and offer more comfort than before.

When you feel you need correction for your teeth to improve your dental health and overall aesthetics, you should visit an experienced orthodontist. At Northridge Dentist, we understand the insecurities that come with crooked teeth, among other challenges. With years of experience, we can give you the best solution with metal braces and leave you smiling.

Overview of Metal or Traditional Braces

Metal braces are often referred to as standard or traditional braces. These braces are fixed on your teeth with a particular type of glue and connected using a wire. These braces require to be tightened periodically to allow the steady pressure to straighten the teeth and align the jaw.

Traditional or metal braces have, over the years, been known to be the most effective in correcting overcrowded teeth. Additionally, compared to other types of braces, they are more affordable and allow the orthodontist to have all the control needed to move your teeth slowly each time.

Some people do not like metal braces because of the metal appearance it gives their mouths. As a result, they tend to prefer the more unnoticeable types of braces. However, today's metal braces are more appealing to the eye than before. They come in various colors you can choose from and are more secure because you will never worry about losing your aligners.

How Metal Braces Work

Typically, braces are designed to apply pressure continuously over time and slowly move or adjust your teeth toward a specific location. As your teeth get realigned, the shape of the underlying bone also changes with pressure application. Various components make up the metal braces.

  • Brackets – These are small squares bonded to the surface of your teeth using a unique adhesive or fixed on orthodontic bands. Brackets are like handles that hold archwires, allowing the moving of teeth. Brackets in traditional braces are made from stainless steel and can get cemented at the back of your teeth to hide them from getting seen.

  • Orthodontic bands – For metal braces, they are made from stainless steel and attached to your teeth with specialized bonding agents. They are wrapped around a tooth providing a base to attach the brackets. However, these bands are not used for every patient because some have brackets only and no bands.

  • Spacers – These are separators fitted between your teeth, creating a small space before placing orthodontic bands.

  • Archwires – These are metallic wires made from stainless steel where the brackets are attached. They are designed to guide how the teeth move and get aligned.

  • Ties – These are small rings made from either fine wires or rubber. They hold archwires securely on the brackets. Ties come in multiple colors for those that may prefer.

  • Buccal tube – This is found on the band that holds the last tooth firmly in place.

  • Elastic bands – These are tiny bands made from stretchy rubber and are also known as ligatures. They assist in keeping archwires held together with the brackets.

  • Springs – These are small devices found on the archwires and placed between brackets. They are designed to pull, push, close, or open the gaps between teeth.

  • Headgear – This is also another device used by orthodontists to correct teeth irregularities. In securing the Facebow to the headgear, two bands with tubes are attached to the upper teeth.

  • Rubber or elastic bands – These are attached to the hooks found on the brackets. They are worn on the lower and upper teeth, applying pressure for the upper teeth to move against the lower ones to achieve the best fit for your teeth.

  • Facebow headgear – This is another device made from stainless steel wires. The gadget helps move upper molars, correcting your bite issues and creating room if your teeth are crowded. This gadget has an inner horseshoe-shaped metallic part, put in your mouth. It then attaches to the buccal tubes, with an outer part going outside it and connecting to the headgear strap.

Who Qualifies for Metal Braces?

When you feel you need corrective treatment for your teeth, it does not always mean you qualify. Visiting an experienced orthodontist will help you know if the procedure is suitable for you. Metal braces are generally designed to correct:

  • Crooked or overcrowded teeth

  • Excessive space between your teeth

  • When your front teeth go over the lower teeth with significant distance vertically known as an overbite or horizontally known as overjet

  • If when you bite, your upper front teeth bite behind the lower teeth, known as an underbite

  • if you have any jaw misalignment issues causing uneven bite

When you have any of the issues above, it will affect how you appear, your dental health, speech, chewing or biting. Fortunately, with the help of your orthodontist, metal braces can be installed to correct these challenges.

Preparing for Installation of Metal Braces

After visiting your dentist who notices problems with your jaw and teeth, he or she will recommend visiting an orthodontist. Most alignment problems in teeth get discovered before puberty, and as more permanent teeth erupt, they become more prominent. Sometimes, orthodontists will advise a parent to wait until more permanent teeth erupt in their children to facilitate the placing of braces.

Typically, a majority of children apply braces when they are between eight and fourteen years. This is more effective because their facial bones are still getting formed and growing, making it easier to move teeth. However, this does not mean that treatment is only suitable for children. Adults also benefit significantly when metal braces are applied to correct similar teeth conditions as those in children.

When getting ready for the application of braces, the preparation entails:

  • Oral exam – Before any dental procedure in your mouth, a thorough dental review is carried out. The orthodontist will comprehensively evaluate your teeth, mouth, and jaws before commencing the treatment.

  • X-rays – X-rays help an orthodontist to determine where your teeth are placed or their position. The standard type of X-ray is called the panoramic X-ray. It shows the teeth' biting position, both on the upper and lower jaws, and if you have any teeth still growing in the jaw. A specialized head X-ray may also get done to determine your jaw's relationship to the teeth, the size, and position. These X-rays are typically 3D and show the accurate location of your teeth.

  • Plaster models – A soft material is provided where you bite into it, and it remains for some time on the teeth. The bite forms an impression on the plaster known as a dental cast. From the model, your orthodontist will evaluate your bite for any issues. If the orthodontist requires more evaluation, they may scan the cast digitally and carry out further investigations before deciding on the treatment.

  • Possible extraction of teeth – If your teeth are overcrowded, you have limited room in your mouth to accommodate all your teeth. At this point, it is recommended to extract a tooth or more to give the other teeth space to fit more comfortably. When your teeth fit well, it also allows for better care and cleaning, improving dental hygiene.

  • Other procedures – Sometimes, depending on your case's severity, metal braces alone may not correct your bite. If your bite is significantly misaligned, your orthodontist may suggest surgery to reposition your jaw.

After the detailed examination of your jaws and teeth, you get a customized treatment plan by your orthodontist. In most cases, this plan will involve using metal braces that get fitted on your teeth for a specific period.

Expectations During the Metal Braces Treatment

Treatment of your teeth using metal braces is in three stages. The placing of the metal braces is the initial stage, followed by adjustments done periodically, then using retainers after the removal of braces.

Your orthodontist will begin by attaching the brackets to your teeth surfaces either to the front or back. Metal brackets used lately are less visible and much smaller. Next, bands shaped like a ring are placed on the molars. However, before the application of bands, space must be created between the molars using spacers. A tube known as the buccal is fitted to the last molar's band, holding the connecting wire securely.

This flexible wire is also known as the archwire, which connects every bracket and band, controlling the teeth's movement. With the use of small elastic or metal ties, the wire is firmly held to the brackets, helping to adjust the teeth.

Your orthodontic will then attach the headgear to your braces. Typically, you will wear the headgear at night, and it is helpful to people whose cases are more complex. This device gets attached to the headgear tubes, inserting more pressure that helps in moving teeth to the desired position.

After the treatment or placing of the braces, your orthodontist will allow you to go home with instructions on how to care for them.

Adjustments of the Metal Braces

As your teeth shift to their new position, the braces become loose. As a result, you will be given periodic appointments by your orthodontist to adjust them regularly. During the visit to the orthodontist's office, he or she will tighten or bend interconnecting wires to ensure continued pressure. This pressure is critical because it is the reason why teeth move to their new position.

The pressure caused allows the jaw to dissolve any bone in the way of the shifting tooth while laying down new bone. From time to time, your orthodontist will want to correct the alignment by inserting tension between your lower and upper jaw. This will be done using elastic bands that stretch between opposite teeth.

After the adjustment, you may experience slight discomfort or soreness. If need be, you can buy over the counter medication to help with the pain. However, if the pain is more severe, reporting it to your orthodontist is advisable.


After having the metal braces for a particular period, the teeth will have shifted to the preferred position. Your orthodontist will then remove your metal braces. However, your teeth will require more support in their new position to stop them from their former position. For this to happen, an appliance made of metal wires and plastic or plastic alone will be used. This device is usually custom made and is known as the retainer.

This device or retainer can be permanently fixed or removable. Sometimes, your orthodontist, based on your situation, may opt to use a combination of both.

Expected Results

Typically, metal braces are incredibly useful in repositioning crooked teeth and correcting jaws to the right position. When this is achieved, your smile is enhanced, and your general dental health improved.

Generally, full braces are worn between one and three years by most people. On the other hand, retainers can be worn for as long as a person wishes, mostly, indefinitely. This helps ensure that the braces’ results remain, and your teeth stay at their new position.

The success of the braces will also depend on you. The role you play as the patient is critical in achieving excellent results. You must ensure to follow the instructions given by your orthodontist to maintain the results achieved. Wearing retainers as instructed is essential to ensuring you do not lose the benefits you gained with the braces.

Risks of Wearing Braces

Generally, wearing braces is safe. However, like any other treatment procedure, some risks are there. These risks are categorized into two parts:

Short-term Risks

The wearing of metal braces creates small spaces around and between your teeth that trap food debris. accThis results in plaque buildup, increasing the chances of developing bacterial infections in your mouth. When these food deposits and plaque accumulate, it can result in:

  • Your teeth's enamel losing minerals, leaving permanent stains whitish on your teeth

  • The decay of your teeth, creating cavities and eventually gum disease.

Long-term Risks

Although rare, wearing of braces can also result in risks that last long. Some of these risks are:

  • Shortened length of your roots – As your teeth move to their new position, some bone on their path dissolves, and a new bone gets laid behind. During the process, your teeth may experience permanent loss in the length of their root. This will result in your teeth being less stable. However, most people do not experience any problems due to this.

  • Lost correction – Some patients can lose the gains made with their braces. This is only possible when one fails to follow the instructions given on the retainers' wearing once the braces are removed. The only way to avoid this long-term risk is to ensure you wear your retainers always as instructed.

Reducing the Likelihood of Damaging your Braces and Teeth

While on your braces, care must be taken to avoid damaging them and your teeth as well. Some of the things you must do to prevent damages include:

  • Reducing eating starchy and sugary foods and drinks. These types of foods contribute significantly to the buildup of plaque resulting in tooth decay.

  • Regular brushing or cleaning of your teeth regularly is essential for your general dental health. Where possible, commit to brushing your teeth after every meal or twice a day. Ensure to use toothpaste with fluoride and a brush with soft bristles. If you cannot brush your teeth following a meal, ensure to rinse using clean water and remove the food particles. Check to see all food particles are removed to avoid the buildup of plaque. Using a mouthwash with fluoride is also recommended.

  • Flossing removes food particles trapped between teeth, wires, and braces. Ensure to floss after every meal or at least once a day and follow it with a rinse. Your orthodontist may recommend you buy a small toothbrush flexible enough to clean the spaces, wires, teeth, and braces.

  • Sticky foods should not be taken when one has braces. These include chewy candies, gum, taffy, and caramel. When you chew on these foods, they stick on your braces and pull away from the wires, bands, and brackets. Avoiding these types of foods is critical to the success of your treatment.

  • Hard or crunch foods are also not good for your teeth, especially when you have braces. Avoid chewing on foods like popcorn, nuts, raw carrots, and hard candy. These foods will damage your teeth's surface, but they can break your braces as well.

  • Maintain regular dental visits to clean your teeth and ensure optimum dental health. Follow the recommendations of your orthodontist or dentist to ensure you get the desired benefits of the metal braces.

  • Following instructions is critical in ensuring that the time you need to have the braces on is not extended. Failing to follow instructions, it may lead to complications that affect the braces' overall results.

Metal Braces for Adults Compared to Children

Although most braces are fitted on children and teenagers, adults also benefit significantly from braces. Unfortunately, most adults think they are too old for braces, but this is not true. Arguably, there are benefits of getting the treatment early, but it does not mean that you cannot get your teeth aligned.

When you are an adolescent, your jawbone and surrounding tissues are growing and moving around. This is the stage where you have more flexibility on your jawline, making it easier for your teeth to respond.

The length the treatment takes is based on how fast you respond to the braces. This means, when you are an adult, your teeth and jaw have stopped growing, making it challenging for the braces to work. The treatment duration for an adult is much longer than that of a child because of these factors. Besides the time, when you want braces as an adult, there are numerous things to consider.

For instance, before getting braces when you are pregnant or preparing to, talking to your doctor is crucial in establishing how the braces may affect you and your unborn child.

Cost of Applying Braces

Fortunately, most health insurance providers offer coverage for braces. However, the amount covered depends on the particular provider, and the cost of braces also depends on your orthodontist.

Typically, the cost of installing braces on a child starts from $5,000 onwards. This is, however, when you are paying for them directly. Adult braces, on the other hand, are not covered by most insurance providers. The cost of installing braces in adults ranges between $5,000 and $7,000. Because of the high cost of braces, some orthodontists offer their patients payment plans, making it more manageable.

Mini Braces

Aside from the traditional metal braces that take significant space in your mouth, metal braces can also come in small sizes known as mini braces. These metal braces don't go around each tooth, meaning the space they take up is less. Not everyone qualifies for mini braces. When you visit your orthodontist, he or she will let you know if you are eligible to get mini or full metal braces.

Special Care when Playing Sports

Because braces are common in children and adolescents, many of them are active in sporting activities. One of the common questions is whether they can engage in sports while with braces. The answer to this is yes. However, if the sports you participate in may get you to hit in the mouth, you must tell your orthodontist who will make a mouth guard for you. The guard is custom made to fit over the braces and protect them from any damage when engaging in your favorite sport.

Find an Orthodontist Near Me

When you feel you need to improve your smile and general dental health by realigning your teeth, you must identify a qualified orthodontist to have your braces applied. At Northridge Dentist, we have years of experience in cosmetic dentistry and will guide you in utilizing your braces for that beautiful smile and a healthy mouth. Call us at 818-875-0216 to book your appointment with us.