Self-Ligating Metal Braces

Self-ligating metal braces are made from the same materials as traditional braces; however, self-ligating metal braces do not require the use of elastics, meaning fewer appointments and less friction being placed on the tooth. Self-ligating metalbraces come with traditional metal, ceramic, or clear brackets. They are the same size as metal braces, but with more options they can provide a more aesthetic appearance, particularly for adult patients.

How do self-ligating metal braces work?

Self-ligating metal braces use a specialized clip in place of elastics to help the archwire guide teeth into place. The clip helps reduce the amount of pressure being placed on the tooth, and decreases the number of adjustments because there are no elastics to replace.

There are two types of self-ligating brackets

  • Passive — Passive brackets use a smaller archwire that creates less friction and allows teeth to move more freely. Passive brackets are often used at the beginning of treatment to help the teeth start moving into position.
  • Active — Active brackets use a much thicker archwire that delivers greater pressure to the teeth and more aggressively moves them into position. The active brackets also offer more control for consistent, strong results.

Some things to consider:

Traditional braces use metal or plastic ligatures to hold the arch wire into the bracket

It takes longer to remove and replace ligatures, and there is chance for additional ligation friction, trapped debris and bacteria, and degredation over time (which may mean more frequent replacement). Ligations may also discolor over time.

Self Ligating braces use a built-in mechanism to hold the arch wire.

This mechanism allows for shorter appointments because wire changes are quicker. The clips do not force like ligatures, which means they add less friction and may allow for longer intervals between appointments. They also trap less debris and bacteria around the perimeter of the bracket.


Self-ligating metal braces are a great option for patients needing braces. Your orthodontist can help you determine what type of braces will be most effective for your smile. Please contact any of our Los Angeles & Orange County offices  to schedule your orthodontic consultation.

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