Braces are by far the most accurate and effective way of moving teeth. They are fixed to the teeth for the duration of active orthodontic treatment - an average of 18-24 months. Whilst a number of other methods are marketed by some, they are not nearly as effective as braces are, and therefore will not give anywhere near the same quality of end result. A common misunderstanding is that 'plates' are somehow a substitute for braces - this is not the case. Plates are used occasionally, in a very limited manner but simply cannot do what braces do.
Braces consist of the following components:
Brackets are are bonded to the outside surface of teeth. These days they are much smaller than they used to be and also much more effective in how they work. For reasons of strength and accuracy, metal brackets are the most common type - for good reason, they work the best! Occasionally, ceramic brackets are used on the upper teeth only, but they are not always appropriate and sometimes less effective.
Archwires deliver the force to move teeth and are change progressively throughout the course of treatment. The changes are incremental and designed such that the teeth move gradually and carefully over time. For these reasons, orthodontic treatment, these days, is typically quite comfortable and not associated with much discomfort. There will be times when certain teeth are more sensitive to pressure, which can be well managed with softer foods and occasionally Panadol (or similar) for a day or two, typically following an adjustment appointment.
Modules are tiny rubber rings used to engage the archwire to each bracket. They can be coloured and are always changed at every adjustment appointment – so you can have different colours on your braces every 6-8 weeks!