Discovering the Components: What Are Braces Made Of?

what are braces made of?

Braces are an important orthodontic device that helps correct teeth misalignment and improper bite, thus improving the overall appearance and function of your permanent teeth. To understand the functioning of these braces, you must familiarize yourself with their key components and the materials used in their construction. 

This knowledge will help you understand their properties, including their efficiency, comfort, and visibility – all of which can affect the patient’s overall experience during the treatment process. As a result, you’ll be better equipped during the decision-making process and the treatment outcome. 

The Evolution of Braces Materials: Then and Now

Initially, braces were made using abundant or malleable materials such as gold, silver, and steel. Wood was also used in some instances. Going far back, ancient civilizations used metal brackets fixed on teeth and tied them with catgut or fine metal thread to align grossly misaligned teeth.

As time passed, more durable and patient-friendly materials were developed, and today, a modern blend of metals, polymers, and ceramics is used. Each material has its specific advantages, and thus, different materials are now used in various components of braces according to the personalized treatment plan.

Main Components of Braces


Brackets align teeth by serving as anchor points to the archwire, which applies pressure to the teeth. They are traditionally made from stainless steel due to its strength and durability. Newer options include ceramic and plastic brackets, which are less visible. Ceramic brackets are designed to match the color of the patient’s teeth, making them more discreet, but they are brittle and less durable. Plastic brackets can be colored or transparent and are the least noticeable, but they lack the strength and longevity of stainless steel or ceramic brackets. 


Arch wires are the backbone of braces that thread through the brackets to pressure the teeth to guide them to their intended position. They are typically made of metal alloys, stainless steel, and nickel-titanium, the most common materials. Stainless steel is less expensive yet strong and is a popular choice. Nickel-titanium wires are a significant advancement in orthodontic materials. They have ”shape memory”, meaning they can return to their original shape when bent, allowing gentle teeth movement. This reduces discomfort and can reduce treatment time.

Elastomeric bands or Ligatures

These are the small ties that hold the archwire to each bracket. Made of medical-grade rubber, they come in various colors, allowing patients to personalize their braces. These bands are changed during regular adjustment appointments as they can lose elasticity over time. 

Molar Bands and Buccal Tubes

Molar bands are metal rings placed around the molars to provide a stable anchor for braces. They are custom-fitted to the individual’s teeth and cemented in place. Attached to these bands are buccal tubes, small metal parts that hold the ends of the archwire and help exert the necessary force. Both components are crucial for managing the forces required to move molars. They are the foundation of the braces and ensure that the treatment is effective across the entire dental arch, not just the more visible front teeth.

Interarch Rubber Bands

To exert additional force, inter-arch elastic bands connect to hooks on the brackets between the upper and lower jaws to adjust the position of the jaw. These bands are made from medical-grade rubber and can be adjusted in strength and elasticity. Interarch bands are critical for addressing more complex orthodontic issues, and their use depends on the degree of malalignment.


Each bracket of the braces is attached to the tooth using a dental adhesive. Modern adhesives are made of composite resins that bind to the tooth and the bracket. The adhesive must be strong enough to hold the brackets firmly in place yet gentle enough to be removed without damaging the enamel of the teeth. Adhesives are applied to the teeth and cured using high-intensity blue light.

The type of adhesive used is important because it ensures that the braces remain fixed during treatment and are safe for oral use.

What to choose? Impact of material choice on treatment


The length of treatment depends on each patient’s dental structure and the materials chosen. Stainless steel components often lead to shorter treatment times due to their durability. Ceramic and plastic brackets may prolong treatment because they require more careful handling and frequent adjustments. Nickel-titanium wires, benefiting from shape memory, can speed up the process by providing consistent pressure.


The quality and type of materials will determine the overall effectiveness of the treatment. Stainless steel, for example, is very strong and is the preferred material for complex cases. However, ceramic braces may strike a better balance between effectiveness and aesthetic appeal based on your specific preferences. 

Aesthetic Implications

Braces are to be worn for a considerable amount of time, and a key concern is physical appearance. Materials such as ceramic and plastic are sometimes chosen over metal because they blend into the teeth and are less noticeable.

Treatment needs

The degree of misalignment and difficulty straightening the teeth may require extra components, such as rubber bands. These will guide the orthodontist in choosing the most suitable materials for each component of the braces.


The cost of braces can vary according to the materials used. Stainless steel tends to be the most cost-effective option. Ceramic brackets, on the other hand, are slightly pricier due to their aesthetic benefits. Plastic brackets, although less noticeable, might result in higher long-term expenses due to durability concerns. Nickel-titanium wires, despite their higher initial cost, could potentially reduce adjustment expenses over time.

Allergy Considerations

When deciding on the material for your braces, it’s imperative to consider any allergies you may have. Allergies related to nickel, commonly found in stainless steel and nickel-titanium, can trigger reactions in some individuals. In such cases, ceramic and plastic brackets, along with elastomeric bands, are safer alternatives for those sensitive to certain materials.


Crafted from stainless steel, nickel-titanium, ceramics, and medical-grade rubber, each component of braces is selected for strength, durability, and aesthetic appeal. Material choice can impact treatment duration, effectiveness, and comfort. Contact us today and schedule your free consultation at Modesto Smile Clinic in Modesto, California for a personalized treatment plan.

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