What are the Different Kinds of Braces?

added on: January 3, 2020
smiling young woman with traditional braces

When you think of orthodontic braces, you probably imagine a mouth full of unsightly (and sometimes painful) metal brackets and wires. After all, getting braces isn’t exactly an experience most of us would like to have. They create beautiful smiles but getting to that point isn’t always easy.

Many people still get traditional metal braces but, in 2020, there are a lot of other options out there too, depending on your orthodontic needs and your budget. Here are the four most popular kinds of braces that are currently on the market:

1. Traditional Metal Braces

model of teeth with multi colored metal braces

These are the braces we’ve all seen before. Traditional braces use metal brackets and wires to move teeth into alignment over an extended period of time. In recent years, some orthodontists have started using heat-activated arch-wires with traditional braces. These allow the natural heat in the mouth to help move teeth quicker than ever before.


  • Price: Braces are never cheap but traditional braces are typically the most affordable out of all of the options.
  • Speed: Traditional braces can handle almost any misalignment problem in record time.


  • Aesthetics: Traditional braces are obvious when smiling and can cause self-confidence problems in some. However, the plastic bands on traditional braces come in interchangeable colors that many patients enjoy choosing.
  • Discomfort: Some patients report feeling discomfort when wearing traditional braces. Occasionally, brackets and wires can break or become too long, poking the patient’s gums or cheek tissue.

2. Ceramic Braces

ceramic braces on a smiling boy

Ceramic braces are very similar to traditional braces. They sit on the front of the teeth, just like traditional braces, but they blend in with the teeth a little better since they’re made of tooth-colored ceramic material. The wires can sometimes be colored too to help make the braces appear invisible.

They work just as fast and effectively as metal braces but they are typically more expensive.


  • Appearance: Ceramic braces are much less noticeable than traditional braces.
  • Speed: Ceramic braces can handle almost any misalignment problem in record time.


  • Staining: If not cared for properly, ceramic braces can become stained.
  • Cost: Ceramic braces are more expensive than traditional braces.
  • Discomfort: Some patients report feeling discomfort when wearing ceramic braces. Occasionally, brackets can break or become too long, poking the patient’s gums or cheek tissue.

3. Lingual Braces

lingual braces on the back of the bottom row of teeth

Unlike traditional and ceramic braces, lingual braces attach to the back of the teeth instead of the front. This makes them virtually invisible but more uncomfortable than traditional braces since the tongue frequently comes into contact with them.

Lingual braces can’t fix everything so if you’re interested in getting them, you should first ask your orthodontist if they’d work in your unique case.


  • Appearance: Lingual braces are invisible when smiling.
  • Speed: If lingual braces are right for your case, they can be fast.


  • Cost: Lingual braces are more expensive than both traditional and ceramic braces.
  • Discomfort: Some patients report feeling discomfort when wearing lingual braces because of their position. Lingual braces have more contact with the soft tissues of the mouth than traditional or ceramic braces.

4. Invisalign

young girl holding up invisalign clear braces

The most recent (and wildly popular) addition to the world of braces doesn’t look like braces at all. In the last fifteen years, Invisalign has cornered the orthodontic market by offering clear, pop-on retainers that straighten teeth without brackets, bands, or wires. Invisalign uses a series (18 to 50) of solely plastic trays to guide misaligned teeth into the proper position.

Patients who choose Invisalign have to wear the trays as often as they can to see the best results but, luckily for them, the trays are clear and fairly comfortable so it isn’t too much of a chore. You do have to take them out when eating or drinking dark liquids to prevent staining.


  • Appearance: Invisalign is practically invisible.
  • Metal-free: The entire process uses only thin, plastic trays that won’t poke or scratch your gums.


  • Staining: If not cared for properly, Invisalign trays can become stained or damaged.
  • Cost: Invisalign is typically more expensive than traditional braces.
  • Effectiveness: Invisalign doesn’t work as well as traditional braces in particular cases. Talk with your orthodontist to see if Invisalign is right for you.
Posted In: Orthodontics