“Self-ligating braces”: What are they and when are they needed
The field of orthodontics is constantly evolving and great technological advances have been made in the last few decades. One of these breakthroughs has been “self-ligating braces”. Also known as “friction-free braces” these appliances allow the orthodontist to treat cases faster, with less discomfort, and often without removal of teeth.
The basic concept of these special braces is that they eliminate the need for elastic ties routinely used with conventional braces. We are all used to seeing “colors” on braces. The colors people commonly refer to are little elastic bands that go around the braces and hold the wires inside them. These colors are made of a rubbery material which creates friction. The friction causes resistance when a tooth is trying to move slowing down its movement. The self-ligating braces have a special door made of stainless steel that opens and closes to engage the wire without the need for any color ties. By removing the ties you are thereby removing the cause of friction and speeding up tooth movement while at the same time minimizing discomfort.
Another advantage of these braces is that they promote better oral hygiene. The elastic ties tend to be a food trap and plaque and other debris often collect around them. By replacing the sticky rubber ties with metal sliding doors there is less chance for plaque accumulation and a cleaner surface area.
Finally, a great advantage of self-ligating braces is that patients can be seen at longer intervals. With conventional braces a trip to the orthodontist is needed every 4-6 weeks to change the ties because they wear out from the harsh environment of the mouth. Since there are no ties to change with self-ligating braces, orthodontic appointments can be extended 8-12 weeks apart. This can be extremely beneficial for busy working adults or those that travel often.
Self-ligating braces are not needed for every patient. Conventional braces can give the same end result. However, in certain cases where arches need to be expanded, where oral hygiene is an issue, where extractions are to be avoided, or where patients need to be seen at longer intervals, these special braces can come in very handy.
Dr. Reza Salmassian is a Board Certified Orthodontist and specializes in orthodontics for Children and Adults. For any questions regarding this article or to schedule your complimentary orthodontic evaluation, please contact Dr. Salmassian’s office at 661-222-7444
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