Self ligating braces
Braces with a clip to hold the wires

What are they?

Self-ligating braces are just like normal braces, except for the way that they hold the wire in place. With normal braces the wire is held by small metal wires or coloured elastic bands. With self-ligating braces the wire is held in place with a special clip and there is no need for ties or elastics.

Self-ligating braces have attracted a lot of attention both within the orthodontic community and the wider population as they have been directly advertised to patients as being better than normal fixed braces.

What are the suggested advantages of these brackets?
  • Treatment will be quicker
  • Less need to remove teeth during orthodontic treatment
  • Less pain during treatment
Have these advantages been proven?

No. Each of these claims have now been subjected to rigorous research in clinical trials and the results do not show any evidence to support these claims (Chen et al., 2010).

They have shown that:

Treatment with self-ligating brackets is not faster than with conventional braces. This is because the brackets move the same along the wire as normal braces.

If your dentist/orthodontist uses self-ligating brackets it does not mean that you will not have to have teeth taken out as part of your treatment. This decision is made by the dentist/orthodontist and is not affected by the type of bracket.

The amount of discomfort you feel is not affected by the type of bracket used. Both types of brace can be uncomfortable

Is there any advantage to the use of these brackets?

Not really. Some clinicians like them because they are easy to adjust but this does not affect your treatment experience.


On the basis of clinical research, there does not appear to be any difference between treatment with self-ligating or conventional brackets. It is important to remember that the brace type should not affect your decision to choose one orthodontist over another.


Chen SS, Greenlee GM, Kim JE, Smith CL, Huang GJ. Systematic review of self-ligating brackets. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2010 Jun;137(6):726.e1-726.e18; discussion 726-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2009.11.009.