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Baffled by Braces Types? Top Facts You Need to Know


That’s right! You have more than one option when it comes to braces today. Braces treatment has come far from the old, bulky, metal-only braces in the last few decades. Today’s braces are small, more efficient, and have several types. 

At Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics, we offer several braces because we know traditional metal braces don’t fit everyone’s lifestyle. Our metal braces are self-ligating, making them more efficient and slightly smaller than the old metal braces your parents wore. In addition, we offer clear ceramic braces that are harder to see on the teeth and lingual braces that fit behind your teeth. 

So which one is right for you? Let’s explore the different types of braces to find out! 

Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and archwires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are similar to your parents’, but today’s braces have improved. As the orthodontic technique and technology have improved, traditional metal braces have become smaller and work better than old ones. Where your parents might have worn their braces for 3-4 years, most patients are done with traditional metal braces in 12-24 months. 

Metal braces comprise stainless steel brackets on the front teeth and bands that fit over the back molars. An archwire fits into groves in the brackets and slides into tiny round tubes at the back. The archwire is held to the brackets by small elastics that fit over the archwire and wrap around the brackets. While they work well, we use a more modern version of metal braces that do the same work in less time.

Self-Ligating Braces

At Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics, we use self-ligating metal braces because we’ve found them more comfortable and efficient for our patients. Unlike traditional metal braces, self-ligating braces don’t use elastics to hold the archwire to the brackets. Instead, the brackets have a little “door” that holds the archwire and allow it to move will less friction. The less friction makes it more gentle and more comfortable for patients. 


Self-ligating braces also move your teeth faster than traditional braces. They apply gentle pressure, but the brackets are laid precisely so they have the maximum amount of movement with the pressure the archwire applies. Compared to traditional metal braces, patients usually shave months off their treatment with self-ligating braces. 

Our patients find our self-ligating braces faster and more comfortable, so we prefer them and offer them to them.

Clear Ceramic Braces

Clear braces began being offered to patients in the late 1980s, and they’ve grown in popularity ever since. Today’s clear braces are made of a ceramic material that blends in with the natural color of the teeth. Clear braces are far less visible on your teeth than traditional metal braces. That may be why our patients love them so much! 

They may also enjoy the comfort of clear ceramic braces. The edges are rounded and smooth, which means patients experience less irritation to their lips, cheeks, and tongue than with the rougher metal braces. Despite the differences, they work like metal braces, providing great moving power to create a beautiful new smile!

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are like metal braces, but instead of going on the outside of the teeth, they are placed on the inside (or tongue side). Lingual braces have the advantage of being nearly invisible unless you break out a big yawn in front of someone. Many adult patients are interested in our lingual braces because they’re self-conscious about being seen as an adult with a “mouthful of metal.” Those who can’t or don’t want to use clear aligners often find lingual braces a better option. 

However, lingual braces aren’t for everyone. Some of the more complex cases may need more traditional braces. They’re also not good for those who can’t avoid hard or sticky foods, which can damage lingual braces.

Clear Aligners

Though they aren’t technically braces, clear aligners are another option for creating the smile of your dreams. We offer clear aligner treatment with Invisalign and 3M Clarity aligners. Clear aligners often give you a new smile faster than traditional braces. However, clear aligners aren’t for everyone. Severe dental cases aren’t great candidates for clear aligners; they do better with braces. Are you a good candidate for clear aligners? Visit us in our Columbia, IL, or Waterloo, IL, office and find out!

Braces Treatment in Colombia & Waterloo, IL

Which type of braces is right for you? During our free, no-obligation consultation, you can find out what option is best for you. Start with a virtual consultation, and we’ll help you set up an appointment for a thorough evaluation. We’ll let you know the best type of braces for you!

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