Woman learning how braces are made

If you are thinking about getting braces, or maybe you already have them, you are probably curious about what braces actually are and how they work. The three most popular ways to straighten teeth are traditional braces, ceramic braces, and Invisalign. Each of these are made differently and work in different ways to straighten your teeth.

Traditional Braces

These are made from titanium or high quality stainless steel and are composed of three major parts:

  • Brackets (either traditional or passive self-ligation systems)- the brackets are metal and are placed directly on the teeth using special glue. Traditional brackets have a place for elastics to be wrapped around them. Passive self-ligation systems are brackets that use “sliding door” technology, allowing the wire to move as needed instead of being tied with an elastic tie.
  • Archwire-the archwire is also made from metal and is a thin wire connecting the brackets together. The wire puts pressure on the teeth, which gradually guides them into the desired position.
  • Elastics (rubber bands)- these elastics are tied around the traditional brackets to keep the wire in place. They come in a variety of colors that you can choose from and are changed each time you have an orthodontic appointment.

Ceramic or Clear Braces

These have brackets that are made from non-porous alumina compounds, rather than metal. The brackets are either clear or a color that closely matches your tooth color and will still be bonded to your teeth. They still utilize a metal archwire and elastics, but the archwire can be “frosted” a silver or white to blend in more closely with the color of your teeth. The elastics would normally be clear.

These braces work in the same way as traditional braces, although some orthodontists warn that they can take a bit longer because they break more easily than metal braces. Ceramic braces are also harder to keep clean because they stain easily.


These are clear, plastic aligner trays that are produced for each individual based off of a 3-D model of that patient’s mouth. Your orthodontist will take photos and a digital scan (used to create the 3-D model), and send them to Invisalign. You will have to change aligning trays frequently; every seven days on average.

Now that you know the ways to straighten your teeth and how they are made, contact us at EA Smiles to set up a consultation where we can help you decide which method is best for you!