Traditional Metal Braces or Clear Braces

Metal Braces

Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces for orthodontic patients. Metal braces are made of high-quality stainless steel or titanium. Patients of all ages choose metal braces to help them achieve straight, beautiful smiles.

Clear Braces

Clear Braces

Clear braces are very similar to traditional metal braces (and accomplish the same goals) except that they are clear. Many of today's braces are made from either clear or natural tooth-colored materials to provide patients with an attractive, less-noticeable alternative to traditional metal braces, with an equally effective treatment. 

What are the components of braces?

Whether you get metal or clear braces, there are three main parts to your braces:

  1. Brackets — Brackets are attached to the teeth using special glue that bonds them to the tooth surface and holds them in place.
  2. Archwire — The archwire is the thin metal wire that connects each bracket and puts pressure on the teeth to help guide them into position.
  3. Elastomeric Colors / Ligature Elastics (also known as the “colors”) — Ligature elastics are the colored ties that hold the archwires to the brackets. Your orthodontist will change the colors at each appointment. 


How do braces work?

Braces and wires place constant low forces on your teeth, and the forces move your teeth into their proper position. At each appointment, your orthodontist may tighten or adjust the archwires. In addition to braces, some patients may need to wear rubber bands to help correct their bite. 

What foods should you avoid and why?

  • Avoid hard, sticky, & chewy foods – examples include caramel, snickers, starburst, taffy, skittles, hard candies, nuts, popcorn, crunchy pizza crust, tortilla chips, and harder breads like a baguette
  • Avoid eating certain foods with your front teeth – examples include whole apples, carrots, and corn on the cob
  • Avoid biting pens, pencils, fingernails, & ice
  • Eating hard, sticky, or chewy foods can cause broken brackets, bands, and wires. Breakage oftentimes extends your time in braces and adds unnecessary trips to our office for repair visits. 

Orthodontic problems, emergencies, & solutions

Thankfully true emergencies in orthodontics are very rare, but there are a few things that can pop up that can be a nuisance if they are not addressed. If experienced after normal business hours, they can be temporarily resolved at home to at least alleviate any discomfort. Below we offer a list of some common orthodontic problems and at-home solutions. If you experience any of these issues, please call our office on the next business day, so we can schedule a repair visit for you if needed to fully fix the issue and make sure treatment is not delayed. Some issues need more immediate attention, while other issues can wait until your next regularly scheduled appointment.

If you experience an orthodontic emergency such as trauma to the teeth or jaws, please call our office immediately.

If you experience an orthodontic problem during normal business hours, please call our office at your earliest convenience and we will get you scheduled for a repair visit.



Broken bracket or loose band

  • If the bracket or band is attached to the wire, leave it in place and cover it with wax if it is uncomfortable.
  • Do not connect any elastic or rubber band to a loose band or bracket.

Lost color tie

  • If the bracket is still present and is loose or rotating because it is not attached to the wire using the color tie, simply remove the loose bracket so it is not swallowed.

Poking wire

  • Use a pencil eraser to push the wire away from the irritated area.
  • Cover the end of the wire with a piece of wax or a wet cotton ball. Try to dry the area before placing the wax.
  • If you cannot alleviate the discomfort by tucking the wire in using a pencil eraser or with wax, you can use nail scissors or clippers that have been sterilized with alcohol to clip the wire where it is causing irritation.

Wire out of tube

  • Try to place the wire back into the tube using tweezers. Place wax if uncomfortable.
  • If you cannot get the wire back in the tube using tweezers, you can use nail scissors or clippers that have been sterilized with alcohol to clip the wire.

Sharp or irritating area

  • Cover the area with wax. Try to dry the area before placing the wax.

Irritated gums and cheeks

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces warm water and rinse your mouth. You can do this twice a day for about 10 days.


  • Soreness is normal after getting your braces and after adjustments. This usually lasts approximately 2-7 days.
  • Feel free to take over the counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or Tylenol as needed per product recommendations.