What Are the Best Types of Braces for Kids?

Getting braces is an important milestone for children. It signals the coming of their teen years and is a positive commitment to their orthodontic health. Once you’ve made the decision that it’s time for your child to have braces, the next step is to choose what kind. Today, there are many types of braces for kids. At Rollins & Peterson Orthodontics in Mesa, AZ, we can help you compare the different options.

What Are the Different Types of Braces?

The good news is that braces today work better and more comfortably than they did in the past. Whatever kind of braces you choose for your child, they will put him or her on a path toward healthy teeth for life. Braces are no longer a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are some of the most common options when it comes to orthodontic care:

  • Traditional metal braces
  • Mini braces
  • Self-ligating braces
  • Ceramic braces
  • Invisalign

When you weigh the different options, consider your priorities for your child. The most important, of course, is the effectiveness of the treatment. Other factors to think about include durability, ease of care, and how your child will look during the treatment.

Traditional Braces

What Are They?

Traditional braces are the tried and true style of orthodontic care. They straighten the teeth via a system of metal brackets, archwires, and elastic bands. The brackets are attached to the teeth using special dental glue. The archwires create a system of pressure that gently causes the teeth to slide into their correct positions. If you got braces as a teenager, chances are you had this type.


The most important advantage of traditional metal braces is the fact that they get the job done extremely well, even in the case of severe misalignment. If your child is in Phase 1, or the period of orthodontic work done for kids, chances are he or she has significantly misaligned teeth. Traditional braces give your orthodontist the control needed to correct complicated cases. Their effectiveness means that they work fast, getting your child his or her beautifully straight smile quickly.

Another advantage is the fact that traditional braces are the most cost-effective solution. This is important for families that are on a budget. Finally, traditional metal braces are made of strong materials that rarely pop or break, even during outdoor activities and roughhousing.


Most of the cons of traditional metal braces are manageable. For example, there are some food restrictions. Your child should not eat taffy or hard, uncooked vegetables during his or her treatment. Also, this type of braces uses rubber bands which need to be changed every four to six weeks. However, this is not always a con. Some children love getting to choose fun colors.

Partial Braces

What Are They?

Partial braces are an option for children who do not require a full set. They involve brackets and wires but do not cover all of the teeth.


Partial braces can target the specific teeth that need attention.


Depending on your child’s case, full braces might be necessary. We can review the current condition of your child’s teeth and let you know if partial braces will be sufficient.

Mini Braces

What Are They?

Mini braces work according to the same system of brackets and wires that make up traditional braces, with one important update: they are smaller and involve less metal.


The reduced size of the brackets means that these braces are more comfortable to wear. Also, they will make less of an impact on your child’s appearance.


The cons for mini braces are basically the same as those for the traditional version. There are some food restrictions, and they require appointments to change the rubber bands.

Self-Ligating Braces

What Are They?

Self-ligating braces are an exciting advance in the field of orthodontia. They straighten the teeth in the same way as traditional and mini braces but without the rubber bands. Instead, they use metal clips to hold the archwires to the brackets.


Why is this new system such an advance? The answer is that it is the first method that can straighten teeth faster than traditional braces. For your child’s teeth to find their correct positions, they must slide along the archwires in response to pressure. While rubber bands help keep braces secure, they also create friction that inhibits this movement. Without the rubber bands, teeth can move with up to 99% less friction. This means faster treatment times and fewer appointments for your child.

Another pro is that, like traditional and mini braces, the metal used in this version is extremely strong and durable. You won’t need to worry about your child damaging them in the course of his or her normal activities.


Self-ligating braces are another variant of the traditional system, so again, food restrictions apply.

Ceramic Braces

What Are They?

Ceramic braces are a tooth-straightening system that has clear brackets.


This variation was developed for people who want to reduce the impact braces have on their appearance. Their main advantage is that they are less noticeable than traditional braces.


While the brackets are less noticeable, they are also larger. This might make them uncomfortable for a child’s mouth. As their name implies, they are also a little bit fragile. If your child is not careful, he or she might break them during play or while chewing.


What Is It?

People have been talking about Invisalign for years because it was the first system that allowed orthodontists to straighten teeth without the use of metal braces. Instead of the traditional brackets and wires, Invisalign uses a series of clear aligners that fit over the teeth. The aligners are custom-made with a high-tech scanner that takes a virtual impression of the teeth. Approximately every two weeks, the patient throws out the old set of aligners and replaces them with a newer, straighter set. Over the course of the treatment, the aligners gradually encourage the teeth into straighter positions.


The Invisalign advantage most people get really excited about is the fact that they are practically invisible. Both in person and in photographs, the clear aligners are incredibly subtle. Also, they are removed for brushing and eating. This means that there are no food restrictions and it is easier to clean the teeth. If your child is having a hard time with the thought of giving up certain foods, Invisalign could be a good solution.

Like traditional braces, the clear aligners are highly durable. Your child will be able to wear them without fearing a popped wire or a broken metal piece.


Despite the pros, Invisalign is usually not the solution parents choose for their children. Patients who opt for this system need to have a high level of maturity because the aligners are regularly removed and replaced. If you worry about your child refusing to wear them all the time or losing them, a version of traditional braces might be better. The clear aligners need to be in place for a minimum of 22 hours per day to take effect.

Additionally, Invisalign is usually recommended for mild to moderate cases. If your child’s teeth are severely misaligned, traditional braces might be more effective. Finally, Invisalign tends to cost a little more than other systems.

Which Is the Best Type of Braces for Children?

The type of braces you choose for your child will depend on the severity of his or her case and your family’s level of comfort with the different options. For most children, traditional, mini, or self-ligating braces are the way to go. Children don’t have to make a professional appearance anywhere, so the impact they have on the look of the teeth is not as significant as with adults or even teens. These systems are fast, advanced, cost-effective, and durable.

For kids, ceramic braces typically pose more challenges than pros. Invisalign can be a good option, depending on the maturity level of your child. Many teenagers love this system. If your child is older and willing to wear the aligners regularly, he or she could benefit from them. However, for younger children and those who need a high level of care, traditional braces are probably a better solution.

The Benefits of Braces for Kids

Whichever option you choose, you can feel good about getting braces for your child. While many people think that baby teeth are not important because they eventually fall out, they actually play a critical role in your child’s development. They establish the paths by which the adult teeth will come into position. Childhood is actually an excellent time to start orthodontic treatment because children have very mailable mouths. By correcting certain problems early, your child can avoid more complicated treatments later in life and you can avoid the cost of those solutions.

Straight teeth provide a lifetime of advantages. They are easier to clean, which can help your child remove the plaque that causes gum disease and cavities. They also function better than crooked teeth, making it easier for him or her to chew food and avoid speech impediments. Additionally, your child will get a huge confidence boost from having a beautifully straight smile. Throughout his or her life, there will be no reason to hide it in photographs or when meeting people for the first time.

Schedule a Consultation

The best way to assess which type of braces are best for your child is by coming in for a consultation. We would love to meet your family and discuss the different types of braces for kids in person. We will take the time to answer any questions from you and your child, making both of you feel comfortable. We will even show you the facilities and give you some fun facts about having braces. When we understand which option is best, we will give important information about caring for braces so that you and your child feel prepared for the treatment.

Braces Give Kids a Lifetime of Healthy Teeth

If your child is nervous about getting braces, you can assure him or her that the process is much more comfortable than it used to be. You can both get excited about the fact that braces will achieve a beautifully straight smile that your child can enjoy as a teenager and an adult. Whether your child gets traditional braces, mini braces, self-ligating braces, or Invisalign, he or she will experience tremendous health benefits. The fact that straight teeth are attractive is an important bonus.

Contact Rollins & Peterson Orthodontics in Mesa, AZ for more information on braces for kids. We look forward to meeting your family and providing the best orthodontic care with the most advanced solutions available.