A metal orthodontic bracket with an archwire and red o-ring ligature

The Pros and Cons of Metal Braces: Are Metal Braces Right for You?

The Pros and Cons of Metal Braces: Are Metal Braces Right for You?

A Quick Guide To Metal Braces

Metal braces have been a go-to orthodontic treatment for decades, and for good reason. They are extremely effective at straightening teeth and correcting bite issues. However, they also come with some drawbacks, such as mild discomfort (which is minimized with an experienced and skilled orthodontist), and difficulty with oral hygiene. If you are considering metal braces, read on to learn more about their pros and cons and whether or not they might be the right option for you.

The Pros of Metal Braces

Metal braces have several advantages that make them a popular choice for orthodontic treatment.

Superior in fixing your bite

Firstly, they are highly effective at correcting a wide range of dental issues, including crooked teeth, overcrowding, and bite problems. In fact, metal braces are still superior in comparison to aligners when dealing with moderate to advanced bite issues. The reason for this is due to the mechanics of how aligners and braces differ. Braces give the orthodontist much more control over the teeth, which allows for a greater range and effectiveness with more cases. Aligners have made strides over the years to help make aligners more effective for more cases, but the fact still remains that metal braces are the gold standard when treating the most difficult cases.


Metal braces are also much more durable than aligners or even plastic/clear braces. This can mean shorter treatment time. Braces can and do break, and each breakage requires a visit to the doctor for a replacement. The more the brackets break during treatment, generally, the longer the treatment time will be.

The breakage issue also applies to aligners, but in a different way. Aligners can be removed when eating. This can be an advantage, but it can also be a be a big disadvantage. Being removable, this increase the chances of aligners being accidentally thrown away, being chewed on by pets, left at the restaurant, etc. This happens more often than what you may think, and most everyone thinks it will not happen to them… until it does! Since braces are not removable until treatment is complete, this is often seen as advantage for people that want the most durability and the least maintenance.


It is also important to consider that metal braces are frequently more affordable than other orthodontic options. This varies by orthodontist, but generally speaking metal braces are often a cheaper option. For us, we assess costs differently than most orthodontic practices and charge based on the difficulty of the case (learn more).

The Cons of Metal Braces

While metal braces have many advantages, they also come with disadvantages that you should keep in mind.


One of the biggest drawbacks is the appearance. Many people feel self-conscious about wearing metal braces, especially as an adult. They can also be uncomfortable and cause irritation or soreness in the mouth. Keep in mind, aligners also cause soreness even morso than braces in most cases. A skilled orthodontist can and should be gentle with wire tightening for braces, resulting in less pain than aligners.

For some people, the appearance of braces are actually a fashion statement! Braces means being able to accessorize and choose the colors that you would like to have on your braces. Sometimes this can be a lot of fun, which is why we frequently have patients turn down clear braces or aligners in favor of the metal look!


As with all orthodontic appliances, they do require basic maintenance and metal braces are no exception. They do make for a more involved brushing regiment. Food can easily get stuck in the brackets and wires, which means more time and care needs to be taken in cleaning your teeth. Electric toothbrushes can and do help make proper hygiene with braces much easier.

In comparison to aligners, it is important to know that aligners can and do stain and they do have a residue and buildup on the plastic if the inside of the aligner is not brushed and cleaned well every day. Since aligners are a plastic covering, like a sheath on top of your teeth all day, plaque and tartar buildup can also be more of a problem. This means, even with aligners, more care needs to be taken with brushing.

The ultimate point here is that both aligners and braces require maintenance and changes in daily hygiene. It is up to you to decide which kind of maintenance you prefer for your lifestyle, but both do require more cleaning time.

Who is a Good Candidate for Metal Braces?

Metal braces are a good option for people who have anything from mild to severe orthodontic issues, such as crooked teeth, overcrowding, or a misaligned bite. Metal braces also tend to result in shorter treatment time than aligners with better results for moderate to severe cases and generally an overall lower cost. Metal braces are also great for people that do not want to mess around with the possible headaches of lost aligners or emergency appointments to replace plastic brackets. Lastly, metal braces can be a great choice for people that like the look and the ability to accessorize. Cheerleaders often desire braces in order to customize their braces colors to school colors.

However, if you are concerned about the appearance of metal braces or have a sensitivity to metal, you may want to consider other orthodontic options such as clear aligners or ceramic braces, or plastic braces. It is important to consult with an orthodontist to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs. We always offer complimentary consultations and Dr. Skarin is always happy to answer any and all questions you may have.

Alternatives to Metal Brace

While metal braces are a popular and effective orthodontic treatment, they may not be the right choice for everyone. Fortunately, there are alternatives available. Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, are a popular option for those who want a more discreet treatment. Ceramic or clear braces are also an option for those who want a less noticeable treatment, as they are made of tooth-colored materials and are close to as discreet as aligners but with the added benefits of braces.

Our practice also offers Skarin System, which is a brand new way of straightening teeth. See the results here, and also be sure to check out our guide to alternative treatments to traditional braces.

What Are Braces Made Of?

Traditional metal braces are made of high-quality stainless steel or titanium. The three main parts of your braces are:

  • Brackets — Brackets are attached to the teeth using special glue that bonds them to the tooth surface and holds them in place
  • Archwire — The archwire is a thin metal wire that connects each bracket and puts pressure on the teeth to help guide them into place.
  • Ligature Elastic (also known as the “donuts”) — Elastics, or rubber bands, are the colored ties that hold the archwires to the brackets. Dr. Skarin will change the elastics at each appointment. They may come in a variety of colors and can be swapped out for new colors at every tightening appointment.

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