The pros and cons of wearing traditional metal braces

When asked about teeth braces, the first thing that usually comes to mind is traditional, metal, braces. This brace type is quite common even today when there are numerous other options available. However, wearing traditional metal braces comes with significant drawbacks that are not present in some other brace types. For example, top invisible braces are an improvement to traditional braces in almost every category. The greatest advantage of metal braces lies in their affordability. But there are numerous other pros and cons that you might want to be aware of. And this article will detail all of them.

What are metal braces and why are they considered to be traditional?

Metal braces utilize a somewhat complex system of brackets and wires to help straighten the wearer’s teeth. These braces place gentle pressure on the teeth, helping them get to the intended position. The reason why they are also called “traditional” is the fact that they were the first teeth braces on the market.

Over time, metal braces evolved to utilize different materials but they retained their traditional functionality. The way they work is by applying brackets to your teeth by utilizing a special dental glue. The brackets are then joined by archwires which serve to encourage the teeth to move into a correct position. As the teeth themselves shift, the space that is left behind is filled with bone and gum tissue. Most of the time, a retainer is also required after the treatment is complete.

person wearing a retainer
Most of the time, you will need a retainer after wearing traditional metal braces.

While metal braces were the only option in past years, today we have numerous different types of braces to take into consideration. Metal braces come with a plethora of pros and cons, and they might not be the best choice for everyone. In fact, most of the time the patient is better served by choosing another, specialized, brace type.

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Cons of wearing traditional metal braces

Traditional mental braces have significant drawbacks. Here are the most notable ones:

  • Sores
  • Decalcification
  • Requires frequent tightening and adjustments
  • Inability to eat certain foods
  • Visual appeal

Furthermore, wearing metal braces can be quite uncomfortable. There is also a not-insignificant period of adaptation and the discomfort of wearing them never really fades away. Lastly, the metal itself can irritate the lips and the tongue in some cases, while the wire ends can even damage the soft tissue within the mouth. Over the years, numerous dental tech trends that are changing the industry appeared, but traditional metal braces evolved very little. Let’s take a look at why wearing traditional metal braces might not be the best idea.

Metal braces often cause sores

As mentioned previously, metal braces are quite uncomfortable to wear. The brackets themselves have a tendency of rubbing against the inside of your mouth and causing severe irritation. This irritation can cause sores to appear, making it very difficult to maintain your oral health. There are solutions to this problem, of course, such as utilizing orthodontic wax, but they are only band-aids. The core of the issue lies in the construction of the metal braces. And, as such, it is simply something that you need to contend with.

an uncomfortable person wearing traditional metal braces
Wearing traditional metal braces can be very uncomfortable.

Other specialized brace types, such as invisible braces, do not have this issue. Furthermore, as dental technology advances, braces are becoming much more comfortable. It may be in your best interest to consider a different type if you can’t contend with being uncomfortable with your braces most of the time.

Decalcification is an issue when wearing traditional metal braces

Another significant drawback to metal braces is the possibility of decalcification. Decalcification happens when your teeth lose calcium and phosphorous minerals from their surface. This normally occurs due to plaque buildup. When plaque remains on your teeth for a prolonged period of time, the bacteria in the mouth start using sugar, thus creating acid. That acid dissolves and weakens teeth enamel, creating white spots of decalcification. If not “caught” in time, decalcification will lead to cavities.

a clean toothbrush
Traditional metal braces will make it very difficult for you to brush your teeth.

But how do metal braces create this situation? The braces themselves are actually not an issue, the issue is that it is much harder to properly brush and floss your teeth with the metal braces attached. Most people have significant issues maintaining their oral hygiene due to the additional difficulties that come from wearing metal braces. Some people might also struggle to cope with dental anxiety for the duration of their treatment. All in all, the inability to brush and floss your teeth in an easy manner is one of the greatest disadvantages of traditional metal braces. Calcification is just the prime example of bad things that can happen.

Metal braces require frequent tightening and adjustments

If you thought that once you fit your metal braces and adjust to them everything is going to be fine, think again. Metal braces require frequent adjustments and occasional tightening. This means that you will be visiting the orthodontist’s office on a regular basis, starting the adjusting process anew every time. While one of the qualities of a good orthodontist is the ability to reduce these visits, you can expect that there will be more than a few adjustments and tightening sessions over the course of your treatment. The main problem with these adjustments is the fact that they will leave your mouth sore for a period of two to four days. All but forcing you to change your diet to soft foods only.

This need to readjust every now and then is possibly one of the main reasons why people avoid metal braces altogether. There are few things as frustrating as having to adjust to the same thing over and over again, after all.

Wearing metal braces makes you unable to eat certain foods

assorted nuts
Forget about nuts when wearing traditional metal braces.

Due to the construction of metal braces, many foods will be prohibited from you. Some foods, such as gum, apples, popcorn, nuts, etc. you will have to learn to live without. Basically, anything that can get in between the metal brackets is a big no-no when wearing traditional metal braces. You may consider it a small price to pay for overcoming your smile insecurities, but the fact is that some of the other brace types do not have this restriction. Some braces allow for removal, making you able to eat more or less any food type.

If you simply cannot change your diet for the duration of the treatment (which can be up to 3 years), you may want to consider choosing one of the alternatives to metal braces.

Visual appeal is severely lacking

Lastly, there is no denying that traditional metal braces look “bad”. While some people might not mind their looks, most individuals abhor the idea of wearing pieces of metal for everyone to see. According to an NLM study, a significant number of patients consider metal braces to be unattractive as well as unacceptable. The study’s results also show that most of the patients will rather opt for another brace type (invisible braces and clear braces most of the time), regardless of the fact that it might cost more.

All that being said, traditional metal braces do have some advantages to them.

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Pros of wearing traditional metal braces

Now, let’s examine why you might want to choose to wear traditional metal braces. Here are the main advantages:

  • Affordability
  • Durability
  • Consistency
  • Suitable for everyone

Furthermore, there is no denying the effectiveness of these braces. Their effectiveness (alongside affordability) is perhaps the main reason why these braces were not pushed out of existence by newer brace variations. Let’s say that you spot some of the warning signs that you need braces. More often than not, your orthodontist will recommend metal braces as one of the solutions to the problem. While there are usually better options, you can almost always rely on metal braces.

Metal braces are affordable

The main advantage of metal braces, and perhaps one of the only reasons why they haven’t been completely replaced, is the fact that they are one of the cheapest solutions on the market. That being said, the treatment with these braces is not cheap at all, ranging from $3,000 to around $7,000!

a $1 bill, representing the savings when wearing traditional metal braces
Traditional metal braces are slightly cheaper than most modern alternatives.

What actually makes traditional metal braces the most affordable option is the fact that they are covered under most insurance plans. The insurance companies view metal braces as one of the least expensive options, which is exactly why they tend to provide coverage for them.

Durability is not an issue

Another great advantage to metal braces is the fact that they are designed to last throughout the entire treatment period. These braces are extremely strong and can withstand the daily wear and tear that comes with chewing and brushing. Metal braces are usually made out of titanium and steel, meaning that they are extremely resilient. Wearing traditional metal braces means that you can engage in all your regular activities, including sports.

But, as mentioned in the cons section, the braces themselves will require constant adjustments. The more strain you put on them, the more frequent the adjustments. But for the most part, you will not need to worry whether your braces will endure the hardships you put them through. It is more likely that your teeth will break before the braces do.


The fact that you can’t remove your metal braces makes them extremely consistent in straightening your teeth. While maintaining a straight smile after braces might be difficult for a period of time, there is no danger of losing metal braces throughout the treatment. Many other brace types are made for the possibility of their removal, providing much greater comfort, but you run the risk of accidentally losing them. Or you might forget to put them on at times.

colored clips
Metal braces cannot be easily detached.

With metal braces, you don’t have to worry about “brace discipline”. Metal braces are always attached to your teeth, for better or worse. Depending on your level of awareness and self-discipline, this might even be the most important advantage that they offer. You have no choice but to wear them 24 hours a day, every day!

Traditional metal braces are suitable for practically anyone

Lastly, almost anyone qualifies for traditional metal braces. They are suitable for both children and adults, as well as for a large range of orthodontic issues. Metal braces were designed to treat as many dental issues as possible, after all. While they might not be the first option for many patients, oftentimes they are the only option. This is all changing, however, as more and more different types of braces enter the dental market.

Basically, if you are looking for a “one-size-fits-all” approach, metal braces are at the top of the list. But if you are looking to make your treatment as comfortable and as effective as it can be, choosing the best brace type for your issue is usually the best idea. These days, most people go for invisible braces, as they provide similar treatment to metal braces but without many of the limitations. And there’s the fact that invisible braces look much much better than their traditional metal counterparts. Furthermore, they are more comfortable and require fewer office visits.

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All that being said, many people are wearing traditional metal braces on a daily basis. The decision is usually a financial one, though. There’s no denying that metal braces are simply cheaper than many other types, after all. But if you are not restrained by financial factors, you will usually be better off with another brace type. And, of course, if metal braces are your only option, they are the best option.

You can find more information on invisible braces, metal braces, and all other brace types by browsing the Consumer Opinion Guide. You will also be able to find recommendations for the best dental networks as well as the most cost-effective dental solutions.

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