How Self-Ligating Braces Differ from Other Orthodontic Treatments

Have you ever heard the term “self-ligating?” It’s not too surprising to us if you haven’t, but you might be glad that you have now! Today, Rhoads Orthodontics is going to explain how self-ligating braces differ from other orthodontic treatments.

What Are Self-Ligating Braces?

These are a type of orthodontic braces that use a built-in clip or sliding mechanism to secure the archwire in place, eliminating the need for elastic ties. 

How They Compare to Traditional Braces

The easiest way to explain this type of appliance is to compare and contrast it to traditional metal braces. Both are highly effective forms of treatment that we’re proud to offer. Let’s take a look:

Design and Components:

  • Traditional Braces: Traditional braces will use elastic bands (ligatures) or metal ties to secure the archwire to the brackets, making for a more complex system overall. 


Function and Mechanics

  • Self-Ligating Braces: The clips or doors allow the archwire to move more freely, which reduces friction and allows for more efficient tooth movement. It also means that the built-in mechanism will maintain a consistent level of pressure on teeth, often resulting in more continuous and gentle movement.
  • Traditional Braces: By comparison, more friction occurs between the archwire and the brackets, which can slow down movement. The elastic bands will need to be periodically tightened or replaced at Rhoads Orthodontics. Therefore, pressure on teeth will be on varying levels. 


Treatment Experience

  • Self-Ligating Braces: One of the advantages of this design for some patients is that they typically need fewer manual adjustments, meaning fewer office visits. The continuous pressure afforded by the mechanism can also lead to faster tooth movement and a more comfortable overall experience. 
  • Traditional Braces: More periodic office visits with Dr. Rhoads are required as a part of this treatment, which usually has a more extended treatment duration by comparison. Some patients experience slight discomfort when their bands are tightened. 


Oral Hygiene

  • Self-Ligating Braces: These could be seen as easier to clean since there are fewer components to capture food particles and plaque.
  • Traditional Braces: With the presence of elastic bands, cleaning can be a bit more challenging to do effectively.



  • Self-Ligating Braces: These come in both metal and ceramic brackets, which can make them less noticeable. 
  • Traditional Braces: Metal braces will typically be the most noticeable variety, especially elastic bands that are chosen in brighter colors. You might want to choose ceramic braces as an alternative.

How Self-Ligating Braces Differ from Other Orthodontic Treatments

Self Ligating vs. Invisalign

If you don’t opt for traditional braces, clear aligners are our other main point of comparison. Here are some footnotes on how Invisalign works:

  • They come in multiple sets of removable aligners, eliminating all other components of braces.
  • They can be perceived as more comfortable since they are smooth and have no brackets or wires.
  • Treatment time can vary, but it can be longer than for self-ligating braces. Aligners must be worn for 20-22 hours a day for optimal results. 
  • They require some discipline since they are removable. It will be up to the patient to follow guidelines.
  • In terms of aesthetics, they are virtually invisible.

You’ll work with Dr. Rhoads to determine if Invisalign feels like the best choice for you!

FAQs About Self-Ligating Braces

Finally, we’ll go over some additional information about self-ligating braces so that you can feel confident about your appointments at Rhoads Orthodontics when we discuss them! 

Q: Are self-ligating braces effective for adults?
Absolutely! They’re a good choice for both adults and teenagers, especially for those with a busier schedule who might need a more efficient option.

Q: Will self-ligating braces affect my speech?

There can always be a brief adjustment period at the beginning of treatment where you may experience slight changes in your speech, such as a lisp. As you get used to your braces, you’ll adjust to this over time. 

Q: Can I eat normally with self-ligating braces?
While you can eat most foods, you should still avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods that can damage your brackets and wires. We’ll help you out with dietary recommendations if you need some.

Q: What should I do if a bracket or wire breaks?

If a bracket or wire breaks, contact Dr. Rhoads immediately to schedule a repair appointment. We never recommend trying to fix it yourself, as it can cause further damage. 

How Self-Ligating Braces Differ from Other Orthodontic Treatments

Choosing the Best Path

Again, we want to emphasize that all of these options have unique advantages—your treatment will depend on your specific condition and goals for your treatment. We’re always excited to work with new and existing patients, so don’t hesitate to reach out to our Cranberry Township office and schedule your free consultation today.