Which brackets are there? And how do you clean them?

Which brackets are there? And how do you clean them?

Brackets, they come in many shapes and sizes. What brackets are there today and what exactly do they do? And, not unimportantly: how do you keep it hygienic with such a handle?

The vast majority of the bracket supports are younger than twenty years. Yet there are also enough adults who opt for braces, for example because they are tired of their crooked teeth. The biggest difference between braces treatment for children and adults is that braces can only straighten the teeth of adults . The jaw position can then no longer be corrected. An adult who wants to do something about an under or overbite is dependent on a jaw operation.

Removable bracket

A removable bracket – also known as a plate bracket – consists of a synthetic resin plate to which metal springs, screws and anchors are attached. This type of brace is available for both the upper and lower teeth. Some removable braces have a metal arch that runs along the front of the teeth. The springs and screws ensure that the teeth slowly but surely stand in the desired position. The anchors hold the bracket in place.

Invisible bracket

The invisible or transparent bracket is an easily removable bracket made of transparent material. The bracket looks like a bit and falls over the teeth. Every week or every two weeks the brace holder receives a new bit (so-called aligners) which pushes the teeth a little further towards the desired position. This type of brace must be worn 24 hours a day, but may be taken out to eat.

Activator or block bracket

The activator or block bracket is especially suitable for children who are still changing or have just changed. This bracket is intended to treat an overbite. The bracket consists of two parts that are attached to each other: a removable bottom bracket and a removable top bracket. By wearing the braces as often as possible, the growth of the lower jaw is promoted while the growth of the upper jaw is actually stopped. Eventually the overbite disappears: the position of the teeth, molars and jaw are connected to each other.

Fixed bracket

The fixed bracket is also known as bracket, plate, block or lock bracket. The clasps (brackets) of this type of bracket are glued to the teeth and molars with special glue. There are bands with tubes around the rear molars. A thin and flexible metal wire runs through the clasps and tubes that pulls into the teeth in the desired position. The metal wire is regularly replaced by a stronger wire that has more power. 

Usually, the bracket also has to attach rubber bands and / or springs to special hooks on the clasps. These elastic bands or springs promote the effectiveness of the braces. The clasps are normally made of metal, but there are also clasps made of transparent material. The transparent clasps are more expensive and more vulnerable. Furthermore, there are colored metal clasps on the market nowadays. 

Finally, a clasp can also be attached to the inside of the teeth: this is called the linguistic technique. The advantage of the linguistic technique is the invisibility of the bracket. There are also disadvantages: it is much more expensive, the treatments and checks take longer and keeping the braces clean takes more time.


A herbst is a fixed bracket that is especially suitable for children in the growth spurt. Just like the activator, the herb is intended to correct an overbite. The bracket consists of two bands in the upper teeth and two bands in the lower teeth. The bands are connected with two telescopic arms. The telescopic arms thus push the lower jaw forward. Because the herb is a fixed bracket, there is a faster result than with the activator.

Suture expansion bracket

The hyrax or suture expansion bracket is a fixed bracket that widens the upper jaw. This bracket makes the skull seam that has not yet grown close – which runs in the middle of the palate – wider by tightening the screw of the bracket. Tightening is done by the bracket carrier himself, at the instruction of the care provider. Once the correct width has been reached, the stirrup carrier must continue to wear the hyrax for a while. The hyrax is sometimes combined with a clasp bracket.


The headgear is known to many as the outboard bracket. This bracket is especially suitable for children, because it corrects the position of the upper jaws. The position of the first large top molars can also be influenced with an outboard bracket. The headgear has two metal arches: an outer and an inner arch. Together, the arches ensure that the teeth are strengthened. The outboard bracket almost always goes together with a plate, lock or block bracket.

Retention brackets

Towards the end of the treatment the brace holder will receive a retention brace. Such a brace ensures that the new tooth position can grow fully. This usually happens with a fixed splint behind the teeth. The splint is in fact not much more than a small metal wire on the inside of the teeth. Often the splint stays in place for life to prevent the teeth from moving back to their old position. In addition, there is the removable retention bracket: a plate bracket that after a while is only worn at night, until it is no longer needed at all.

Hygiene and the stirrup

Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day is part of everyone’s daily routine and is certainly essential for those who wear fixed braces. A toothbrush with a straight handle and a small brush head is the most suitable for this. There are special brush heads for fixed brackets for the electric toothbrush. 

There are also special detachable tablets with which you can check whether all teeth are clean. In addition to good brushing – with fluoride toothpaste! – for carriers of a fixed bracket, the advice is to rinse for two more minutes after brushing with fluoride drink in the evening. The spaces between the locks can be cleaned with a ragertje. Finally, it is important to rinse the mouth thoroughly with water after every meal.

Special effervescent tablets are available for daily cleaning of the removable bracket. By cleaning the bracket daily with that, you prevent the bracket from becoming a hotbed of bacteria and fungi.

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