Traditional Braces

Metal Braces and Clear "Ceramic" Braces

Orthodontic treatment involves moving the teeth into their appropriate position in the upper and lower jaws. Today, there are several different ways to accomplish that movement. Perhaps the most predictable and successful way to move teeth is through the use of traditional braces.
A teenage boy smiling with braces on his teeth after an orthodontic appointment

With traditional braces, your orthodontist attaches small brackets to the teeth and uses a variety of wires to exert a pulling force. As the wires “pull” the tooth in a certain direction, the cells surrounding that tooth’s root stimulate the bone remodeling process. Healthy and safe orthodontic movement requires good bone remodeling, and good bone remodeling requires the expertise of a licensed and board-certified orthodontist.

Throughout orthodontic treatment with traditional braces, patients see their orthodontist on a consistent basis for evaluation. During these evaluation visits, the doctor is confirming the proper movement of the teeth. He or she may also adjust the current wire or replace it with a new wire in order to carry out the desired movement.

We use brackets made from a variety of materials, including metal and ceramic. Ceramic brackets are tooth-colored, and they are less visible than the metallic ones. You may wonder why we do not use ceramic brackets for all patients. The reason is that ceramic brackets are more likely to break under pressure, and they are less comfortable inside the mouth. Metal brackets can be smaller in size and accomplish the same movements as a ceramic bracket. We will explain the pros and cons of each type of bracket to each individual patient and then leave the decision to him or her.

Life with Traditional Braces

Traditional metal or clear/ ceramic braces use wires connected to fixed brackets to pull your teeth into place. Traditional braces are great in treating orthodontic conditions that Invisalign cannot. However, before committing to treatment, it’s important to consider some modifications you may need to make to your day-to-day life:

  • When wearing traditional braces, some foods can be damaging to the brackets and wires, and possibly to your teeth! We recommend staying away from these foods until your braces come off.
  • Brushing your teeth may become more difficult. Take your time to diligently brush and floss under and around your brackets and wires to be sure any bacteria and plaque is removed. We recommend keeping a travel toothbrush in your desk or locker at school to keep your teeth clean between meals.
  • Traditional braces may feel a little strange or uncomfortable when you first get them put on. Some patients may notice a change in their speech or ability to play certain instruments. However you’ll be happy to know that this discomfort will fade in time. With practice and a period of adjustment, braces typically do not interfere with the playing of musical instruments.
  • We encourage you to stay active and continue playing sports when you have braces, though we may advise you to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and mouth, just in case.
  • Check out our list of Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about life with braces.
  • Keep consistent appointments– typically every six weeks, so we can monitor your progress. Frequently missing appointments can delay or alter your treatment plan.
  • Once you complete treatment, keep your smile straight for a lifetime by wearing your retainer every night!

Caring for your braces properly requires diligence and good habits. To ensure your mouth stays healthy and your treatment progresses properly, follow these tips:

  • Maintain great oral hygiene. Effective oral hygiene is crucial for your health. Wearing braces makes brushing and flossing correctly more difficult. Ensure you’re using proper technique to keep your teeth and gums plaque-free.
  • Avoid certain “bad for your braces” foods. The brackets and wires of your braces can be fragile. Some foods can get stuck or cause damage to your braces or your mouth.
  • In case of an emergency, contact us right away. Orthodontic emergencies are rare, but can be quite serious when they do occur. Review our guide for emergency orthodontic care to learn the difference between normal discomfort and a truly urgent situation.

Eating with Braces

When wearing braces it’s important to stay away from crunchy, sticky, and chewy foods for a while. These foods can get caught in your brackets and wires and damage your teeth or braces! Remember our helpful rhymes so you know the foods to stay away from.

  • The crust of a pizza is the best part– and the place where bent wires start.
  • A hard roll or pretzel or bagel will knock off your braces, so leave them alone if you’re able.
  • Doritos or tacos with shells that are hard, best be fed to the birdies in the yard!
  • A silly movie is fun for all, but the pain popcorn causes is no fun at all!
  • Beef jerky and Slim Jims are fun to eat, but for wrecking your braces– they’re hard to beat!
  • Ribs and meats found on a bone are the types of foods you should leave alone!
  • Corn on the cob you should never eat. But once removed, is one sweet treat!
  • Hard candy and lollipops are a sweet delight, but will damage your braces– so don’t bite!
  • Caramel and taffy and sugar gum will stick to your braces, and that’s no fun.
  • Ice from a cool drink is refreshing, we know. But chewing destroys your braces, so 1000 times, no!
  • Biting your fingernails is a tough habit to break, but doing it with braces is one big mistake!
  • Pens, pencils, and popsicle sticks can ruin your braces.
  • Those who chew them like food will have unhappy faces!

All of these foods should be avoided for a while, but remember, it’s all for a beautiful smile!

Tips for Parents

Young people in need of braces will likely feel nervous, excited, confused, or indifferent. Committing to orthodontic treatment can be overwhelming for many kids, that’s why it’s important for parents to be there for support and to help our kids adjust.

  • Encourage them to ask questions. Even the most outgoing patients can be shy once they get to our office. Be sure to discuss the treatment plan with your child so they feel comfortable and aware of what’s happening. And if there are any questions you don’t know the answer to, just call us!
    Help ease their discomfort. Initially after braces are put on and immediately after tightening, braces can cause some pain or discomfort. We recommend having some over-the-counter pain relief medication or an ice pack ready before these appointments.
  • Encourage great hygiene habits. Poor oral hygiene while wearing braces can delay treatment and cause serious harm to the health of your child’s mouth. It’s vital that kids brush and floss often, and with the proper technique. Support your child by reminding them to brush and by keeping these dangerous foods out of the house until treatment is over.
  • Remind them of the benefits. Wearing braces isn’t always easy, and for young people, an 18-month treatment plan can sometimes feel like forever. Remind your child that treatment is only temporary and their beautiful new smile is waiting at the finish line!

Brushing and Flossing Techniques

Maintaining proper brushing and flossing techniques when wearing braces or clear aligners is crucial. Without effective oral hygiene, the foods you eat will get caught in your teeth or appliances and lead to plaque buildup that can cause staining, cavities, or gingivitis and decalcification. Also be sure to ask about our Orthodontic Hygiene Program to ensure you’re getting regular professional cleanings and feedback on your brushing and flossing technique.

To keep your oral health in good condition while wearing braces, here are some at-home tips we recommend:

  • Brush and floss after every meal. Regular plaque removal is key to achieving a beautiful, healthy smile and obtaining optimal results at the end of your orthodontic treatment.
  • Brush with the proper technique. When wearing braces, it’s important to spend the time and diligence to properly clean your teeth. Whether using a manual or electric toothbrush, be sure to tilt your brush at a 45 degree angle from your gumline angling down towards your brackets so your bristles are underneath the wire. Move the brush in small circular motions over each tooth at the gumline, then repeat the motion below your brackets with the toothbrush angled upwards.
  • Floss with the proper technique. Traditional dental floss can be difficult to use for our patients wearing braces, but it’s crucial to remove the plaque that may be caught between your teeth or brackets. Consider a water flosser or floss threader to make flossing easier. Or try a specialized floss stick for braces. We recommend the Platypus Orthodontic Flosser sold in stores or online.
  • Avoid snacking. If you must have a quick bite between meals, choose good-for-your-teeth options, like lean proteins, cheeses, and raw vegetables. Be sure to avoid foods that can damage your braces!
  • Use a fluoridated toothpaste or mouth rinse to protect and strengthen your teeth.
Group photo of a pediatric dental team in Austin, Texas

Our team has delivered outstanding pediatric dental care in North Austin for over 30 years. We are committed to providing our community with safe, gentle, high-quality dental care.

Questions or Concerns?

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding your dental care, we are more than happy to discuss how you can achieve a beautiful and healthy smile.

As a top pediatric dentist in North Austin, we have helped hundreds of families achieve their oral health goals and are eager to help you and your family do the same.