AAO Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, TX

Do Self Ligating Braces Need Tightening?

Are you considering self ligating braces as a way to straighten your teeth and achieve a genuine, attractive smile? Do you want to see your teeth align and straighten with fewer visits to your orthodontist, less discomfort, and easier braces maintenance? Are you ready to see your smile transformed? If so, you might be a candidate for self ligating braces. At Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, TX, we’re proud to offer this service and help each of our patients reach their goals through orthodontics.

Do Self Ligating Braces Need Tightening?

While this might be the first time you’ve heard of self ligating braces, they have been steadily gaining popularity since the 1980s. This technique is very similar to traditional braces with one exception: the metal brackets which secure the arch wires have small door clips instead of elastic bands.

By hold the wires in place with these clips, which open and close with ease, you can experience less time in your orthodontist’s chair, fewer braces adjustments, zero need for colored rubber bands, elastics, or metal ties, and a smoother, more comfortable experience with braces. They do need to be tightened, but not as often, and it’s an easier and faster experience.

How Do They Work?

When they think of self ligating braces, most people picture the square metal brackets which attach to the teeth. However, the brackets are only responsible for anchoring the metal archwire and providing resistance to help move the teeth. The arch wire itself is constantly adjusted to pull the teeth into correct alignment and create an even, attractive smile.

By using brackets with doors that can open and close, your orthodontist can adjust the arch wire quickly and efficiently, reducing your number of visits to the office and eliminating the need for elastics or metal ties, which can be uncomfortable and hard to clean.

What Are the Advantages?

These braces offer a variety of benefits. While the treatment experience varies from patient to patient, here are some of the biggest benefits of self ligating braces.

Faster Treatment Times

In general, these self ligating braces can be used to achieve faster treatment times by aligning the teeth more efficiently thanks to the brackets used. The wires and the bracket clips are proven to create less friction as the teeth shift, allowing faster movement and less discomfort, especially during the first stages of treatment.

Fewer Adjustments

Our skilled orthodontists can use these braces to move your teeth with fewer adjustments. The open-and-close brackets allow us to change and tighten wires more quickly, and most patients experience a longer period between appointments.

No Bands or Elastics

Rubber or metal bands and elastics were once used to secure the arch wire to the metal brackets. While they are colorful, these elastics increase friction during teeth movement and can result in a slower, more uncomfortable process. Self ligating braces eliminate the need for more frequent orthodontist appointments to constantly change elastic bands.

Easier Maintenance and Cleaning

Braces are not always easy to maintain, but traditional braces are notoriously difficult to clean at home. The elastic or metal bands can become dirty in just a few days. Food can become trapped between the rubber bands and brackets. Flossing and picking the teeth to clean them is more difficult with traditional braces and bands. These brackets are much easier to clean and maintain and can help you keep your teeth healthier during your braces treatment.

More Comfortable

Thanks to the reduction in friction, these brackets can make your braces treatment much more comfortable. Most of our patients report minimal tugging, pressure, or discomfort caused by their braces thanks to these brackets.


We can provide brackets that meet your needs. While metal brackets are more common, clear brackets are available to give you a more discreet appearance during treatment.

Which Types Are There?

There are two main types of self ligating braces of brackets used with these braces. Depending on your unique situation, your orthodontist will recommend the best bracket or combination of brackets to meet your needs.


Passive brackets are designed to hold a smaller archwire and can be used for patients with mild alignment concerns. It can also be used for the first series of your adjustments as your teeth begin to shift. Using a smaller, thinner wire can allow your teeth to move with less friction and may make your experience with braces more comfortable.


Active brackets hold a thicker, stronger archwire. This wire is able to exert more pressure and can move the teeth more quickly while still reducing friction and discomfort. During your treatment process, your orthodontist can use active brackets and a thicker wire to pull the teeth into alignment with fewer appointments and adjustments.

How Do They Compare to Traditional Braces?

Unlike traditional braces, these braces use brackets that hold the archwire in place with small doors on each bracket that can open and close. This reduces friction, eliminates rubber bands and elastics used on traditional brackets, and can result in a faster, more comfortable treatment time for many patients.

How Long Does Treatment Take?

While braces are still the fastest way to straighten and align teeth, they are not able to deliver instant results. Teeth need time to move into new positions, and our orthodontists are committed to giving you a safe, effective treatment experience.

Your individual treatment time will depend on your concerns and misalignments. If your issues are more severe, your treatment could take longer. Most patients wear their braces for 12-30 months in total. However, self ligating brackets can result in shorter treatment times for some patients thanks to friction reduction.

Why Do They Need to Be Tightened?

In order to effectively and quickly move the teeth, braces need to be routinely tightened. This process shifts the teeth and achieves an even, attractive smile. Traditional braces required more adjustments due to the use of elastic bands, which held the archwire on the bracket and could break between appointments.

Each elastic had to be removed and replaced, which meant that your appointment was longer and you spent more time in the orthodontist’s chair.

With self ligating brackets, we are able to open the small doors on the brackets to remove or adjust the archwire in minutes. This process is much more time-efficient, requires fewer adjustments, and may reduce your time wearing braces by several months.

Am I an Ideal Candidate?

If you are considering braces or have been recommended for treatment by your dentist, you could be an ideal candidate for these braces. In general, these braces can be used to correct a variety of concerns and can be used safely and effectively on most patients.

A good candidate should have realistic, informed expectations about this treatment. This treatment option may not be ideal for those with severe misalignments. In addition, those with gum disease may not be ideal candidates as wearing braces may exacerbate this condition.

One of our skilled orthodontists will evaluate your teeth, bite, and misalignments to help you determine whether these braces are right for you during an initial consultation.

What Can I Expect From Treatment?

Each patient’s experience is different, but we are committed to achieving excellent results for all of our patients. Our skilled team is ready to answer any questions you may have about your treatment process. Here is a brief overview of what you can expect from treatment:


Your first appointment will be an initial consultation with one of our orthodontists. This appointment allows us to examine your teeth, discuss your ideal results, and recommend a treatment plan that’s right for you. If self ligating braces would be the best option to correct your unique concerns, our orthodontist will recommend you for treatment and give you instructions for how to prepare for your first appointment.


While you may receive specific instructions from your orthodontist to help you prepare to get braces, the most important thing you can do is brush your teeth well and visit your dentist to make sure your teeth are healthy and clean. You should continue to take care of your teeth and visit your dentist regularly while wearing braces. If you have gum disease or experience plaque buildup, your dentist may recommend that you meet with a periodontist, or gum specialist, before your braces are applied to ensure that your teeth will remain healthy during treatment.


The length treatment process will depend on the severity of your misalignments and our orthodontist’s recommendations. For most of our patients, treatment with braces includes three distinct steps.


During your first appointment after your consultation, our orthodontist will apply the brackets to your teeth and attach the archwire. The brackets are glued to the surface of your teeth with a powerful bonding agent, which will be neutralized once your treatment process is complete and your braces are removed.

Once the brackets are attached, your orthodontist will insert the archwire into each bracket and close the clips, securing the wire in place. The ends of the wires will be clipped to ensure your comfort and you will be able to return to your normal schedule immediately with zero downtime.


As long as you wear braces, your teeth are shifting slowly. Your orthodontist will adjust your wires regularly to make sure your teeth move in the right direction and achieve a corrected alignment.

The number of adjustments you will have depends on your unique situation, but patients with self ligating brackets may experience fewer adjustments thanks to the decreased friction during tooth movement and elimination of elastics and rubber bands, which need to be replaced often and are prone to breaking.


Once your teeth are aligned, your orthodontist will remove your braces to reveal your beautiful new smile. This process involves removing the archwires by opening the brackets and neutralizing the bonding agent which attaches the brackets to the teeth.

The brackets can then be removed easily. You will want to visit your dentist for regular cleaning and check-up once your braces are removed, but after this appointment, you can plan to enjoy your smile for years to come.


Once your braces are removed, you should notice that your teeth are straighter and that your bite is more aligned than before. Your orthodontist may recommend a retainer to help you maintain your final results. This device is worn to keep the teeth in their new positions and can help prevent any shifting once your braces are removed.

It’s important to follow your orthodontists’ instructions to maintain your results and keep your teeth healthy with regular dentist appointments and good dental hygiene. In general, our patients can enjoy their new smiles immediately and expect long-lasting results.

Contact Us to Learn More!

Are you ready to learn more about self ligating braces? If so, contact our team of professionals at Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, TX, to schedule an initial consultation today! We look forward to helping you reach your orthodontic goals and reveal your best smile!