If your child's teeth need straightening and your orthodontist recommends that they wear custom braces, then you may be asked if you want to use self-ligating braces. How do these braces work, and why might they be a better option for your child?
What Are Self-Ligating Braces?
Self-ligating braces are similar to metal braces; however, they use a different kind of bracket-and-wire system. On regular metal braces, brace wires are held in place on their brackets by elastic bands. Self-ligating braces don't need this elastic band support.
The brackets on self-ligating braces have clips on them that hold the brace wire. When the wire is fitted, the brackets are opened; when they are closed, they hold the wire in position. Generally, each wire used on a brace will be switched to a thicker one as treatment progresses and the wires are changed.
What Are the Advantages of Using Self-Ligating Braces?
Some children find that self-ligating braces are a better option for them. Their design may make this a more comfortable and manageable orthodontic solution.
For example, braces that use elastic bands may put more pressure on the teeth because they make more forceful movements. Self-ligating braces use less pressure to move teeth and work more gently. This may make your child's orthodontic work less painful, especially when the wires are changed to make new movements.
You may also find that your child has to spend less time at the orthodontist having their braces switched up. It is usually quicker to switch wires on self-ligating braces than it is on regular metal ones.
If you're worried that your child will have trouble keeping their teeth clean while their braces are on, then self-ligating options may be better. Regular braces that use elastic bands may be harder to clean. For example, bits of food can accumulate on the elastics and stick there. They can be hard to clean off. If they aren't removed, then they may give your child some decay issues with their teeth around the brace's brackets. Cleaning the clip system on self-ligating braces may be a little easier for your child.
If you think that self-ligating brackets might be a better option for your child, then talk to your orthodontist. They can explain more about how these braces work, how they differ from regular metal braces and whether they might affect the time it takes to straighten your child's teeth.