Orthodontics: traditional or self-ligating brackets?

When a patient is indicated the need for orthodontic treatment, many doubts arise as to which is the best system and what each one consists of. In most cases it is usually the orthodontist who must assess which is the best option, taking into account the characteristics of each patient. That is to say, the type of appliance to be placed depends on the problem and the circumstances of each person.
However, fixed orthodontics has been evolving since its appearance and there is now an alternative to take into account: self-ligating brackets or brackets without rubber bands, which adapt to all types of patients with different problems.

Conventional brackets have a part attached to the tooth that is connected to a metal wire through an elastic. This elastic rubber band allows the whole piece to remain firm, but it also has certain disadvantages. Generally, the rubber bands lose their strength and change color, so they have to be changed frequently. This obliges the patient to attend a dental check-up at least once a month.

On the other hand, the system with elastic generates a lot of friction force between the wire and the bracket. For this reason, the patient requires more intense force to move the teeth.
Another disadvantage of the rubber band is that it retains food debris and dental plaque, which helps bacteria to get inside and cannot be removed unless the rubber band is changed.

The main difference between traditional brackets and self-ligating brackets is that self-ligating brackets do without the rubber band to attach the bracket to the archwire. With this type of technique, the archwire is held in place by a clip that exerts less pressure to correct the position of the teeth. This new ligation technology provides a more comfortable movement and considerably decreases friction.

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What are the advantages of self-ligating brackets?

One of the great advantages of fixed self-ligating orthodontics has to do with daily oral cleanliness. While all types of braces tend to complicate tooth brushing, this type of system allows you to remove food debris more easily due to the absence of ligatures surrounding the tooth.

Another positive aspect is that it is a more durable appliance and does not present as much wear and tear as traditional brackets. In addition, check-ups at the dentist are faster because there is no need to change the archwire and the rubber bands one by one. With self-ligating brackets, only the archwire and the pressure it exerts on the tooth is modified.

On the other hand, self-ligating orthodontics allows for faster correction of the teeth, so treatment is usually shorter than with conventional braces. That is, a patient with conventional braces may require up to 30 months of treatment, while one with self-ligating braces needs a period of between 12 and 24 months.
In terms of results, self-ligating fixed appliances are just as effective as conventional orthodontics and although they are more expensive, they are not the most expensive orthodontic system currently available. Before knowing the budget, it is important to make an assessment with a specialist in dentistry, to determine the type and duration of treatment.