What are tooth braces?

Dental braces or tooth braces are corrective orthodontic tools used for teeth straightening and the correct jaw alignment. Orthodontists place metallic squares called brackets on the outer surface of the teeth and a flexible piece of wire, which sits on top of the brackets, and its sides are screwed on bands, which fit around the wisdom teeth.

Braces are used to fix issues such as crowding, crooked teeth, and misaligned bite, either overbite or underbite. This treatment is more common among teenagers, but adults can also get braces to perfect their smiles.

The Evolution of Braces

Straight teeth have long been considered to be attractive and a sign of good health. Braces may seem a modern dental procedure, but there is evidence of ancient civilizations using a form of dental braces. Some of them were used to preserve the straight teeth of the deceased to the afterlife. Others designed a basic version of braces to fix the crooked teeth of the living. The materials differed between civilizations, but the most common were gold, metal, and or catgut. The evolution of orthodontics was determined by the following cultures. 

  1. Ancient Egyptians used metal posts attached to a cord made of the animal intestine and placed them on the teeth of the dead. This technique is very similar to the modern one, as the attached cord functioned as an arch and applied the necessary pressure to fix the misalignment. Based on the culture and their beliefs about the afterlife, it was more important for them to provide the best care possible for their dead than the living.
  2. Ancient Romans also played a great part in the history of orthodontics . Archeologists have discovered Roman tombs with evidence of teeth braces, which were almost identical to the traditional ones used nowadays. These braces were made of gold and were fitted along the teeth. Another discovery we owe to Romans is the fact that the braces are the most effective in earlier ages. In fact, ancient Greek medical documents by Hippocrates reveal that crowded teeth or other structural dental issues led to “headaches and ottorhea or ear discharge
  3. The Etruscans, an ancient civilization who lived in central Italy in the 6th century BC, used a type of gold mouth guard, similar to a modern dental retainer. Similar to the ancient Egyptian tradition, they were interested in preserving the straight teeth of the dead in the afterlife.


The French had significantly contributed to the field of dentistry in the 18th century, creating custom mouthguards and overcrowding treatments. A century later, in 1819, Christophe-Francois Delabarre invented the precursor of  the modern dental braces, by designing a woven wire which was fitted over the upper and lower row of the teeth, and over time it would fix teeth misalignment.

Types of dental braces/ brackets

A lot has changed in orthodontic technology in just the last decade. The unattractive mouthful of metal wires is now in the past and new, more discreet tooth braces are available. The five types of orthodontic braces are:

  1. The metal braces which are the traditional and most used ones. They include brackets on the front of the teeth and bands fitted in the back teeth, to support the flexible wire arch, which applies pressure to fix crooked teeth.
  2. The ceramic braces which are the traditional braces with a tooth-colored ceramic layer. They are more discreet and appealing than the metal ones and are made with stainless steel, gold, and clear materials.
  3. The lingual braces comprise brackets placed behind the teeth, facing the tongue and they have the same function and look as the traditional ones.
  4. The self-ligating braces are a more expensive version of the traditional ones because they replaced the bands with clips to hold the wire in place. They provide less friction on the braces, more control and precision on the alignment and the teeth brushing and cleaning are easier to do.
  5. The Invisalign, which is considered a type of brace, even though there are no brackets or wires. Instead, it is a clear plastic aligner that is fitted perfectly over the teeth and can be replaced once or twice a month. The patients prefer them because they do not experience much difficulty in drinking and eating but they are considerably more costly than the other types. They are recommended for minor to moderate orthodontic issues in teenagers and adults.

The Cost of Dental Braces

The cost of tooth braces varies from country to country. An orthodontic treatment is not always covered by medical insurance companies and its cost can be quite high. In the US, over 4 million people wear braces and 25% of them are adults. As a rough estimate, braces can cost between $3,000 and $10,000 in the USA, depending on the duration of the treatment and the type of braces.


Dental braces types Price range in the US
Metal braces $3,000- $7,000
Ceramic braces $4,000- $8,000
Lingual braces $8,000- $10,000
Self-ligating braces $3,000- $7,000
Invisalign braces $4,000 – $7,400


There are some cases where medical insurance can cover part of the cost for teenagers when the treatment is deemed as a medical necessity. The duration of the treatment is between 1 and 3 years and the visit to the orthodontists’ office can be a painful and uncomfortable experience.


According to statistics, the global orthodontics industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% until 2030 mainly due to the surge of tooth and jaw misalignment cases and the continuing demand for dental aesthetics. The children segment will continue to dominate the major market share but the adult segment will also develop significantly. As for the market share per region, North America will likely occupy the largest market share, followed by the European market. The Asia Pacific will be the fastest-growing market in the next decade due to the rise of dental issues, the geriatric population, and the advances in dental technology.

 Orthodontic treatment may be a painful experience, but it an essential one to fix dental irregularities and prevent other health complications.