Regardless of age, more people in the U.S. are springing for braces than ever. Thanks to the pandemic “Zoom boom,” most of us have spent a while staring at our own smiles on various screens. With all that staring, it’s no wonder crooked teeth and spacing issues have started to seem more noticeable!

If that sounds familiar, you’re likely weighing treatment options, including two of the best types of braces: metal and ceramic.

Deciding between metal vs. ceramic braces can be tricky, especially because the differences between them are subtle. Let’s take a look at the basics of each, plus a few pros and cons to keep in mind.

Metal vs. Ceramic Braces: the Basics

In terms of structure and strategy, metal and ceramic braces are similar. However, there are a few crucial differences to understand.

Metal Braces

Metal braces are the more traditional option. Popularized in the 90s, they’re what most people think of when they think of braces: obvious metal crossing each tooth in addition to colorful rubber bands.

With metal braces, your dentist will place metal brackets on your teeth and string metal wires between them, all made of stainless steel. They’ll place a rubber band around each bracket to further help with straightening.

There are also small variations on metal braces. Self-ligating braces, for example, use clips instead of ligatures. This makes them easier to adjust.

Ceramic Braces

These braces have a lot in common with metal braces, but the main difference is that the brackets use ceramic instead of metal. The wires between the brackets can be stainless steel or a white archwire, and the bands around the brackets are often clear.

This makes ceramic braces less noticeable. At a glance, people might not realize you even have braces!

Pros and Cons of Metal Braces

Metal braces have become popular for a good reason: they work! This effective option has several pros and cons to keep in mind if you’re considering them.


Metal braces are strong. The durable material gives your dentist the maximum control over your straightening efforts.

This makes metal braces great for treating cases that need extreme correction. If you have complex bite issues or your teeth have severe malocclusion (misalignment), you might need metal braces.

In some cases, the effectiveness of metal braces can mean a shorter orthodontic treatment timeline. This also contributes to their lower price tag.

Furthermore, metal is great for hiding signs of discoloration. Even if you spend all day consuming some of the most tooth-staining foods and drinks, from coffee to berries, you’re unlikely to notice any visual issues with metal braces.

Last, metal braces are often the more affordable option, though not by much.


The most obvious disadvantage of metal braces is the fact that they are obvious. Metal braces are noticeable at a glance against the white of your teeth. This is unavoidable, even if you choose rubber band colors that blend in with the metal.

However, if you’re picturing the braces of the 90s, don’t! Modern braces are slimmer and more comfortable than their older counterparts.

Pros and Cons of Ceramic Braces

You can think of ceramic braces as the modern relative of traditional braces. Though they’re designed with improvement in mind, however, they still have advantages and disadvantages:


Ceramic braces are subtle. Because their brackets, rubber bands, and even wires are tooth-colored or translucent, they’re a more discreet way to get straight teeth. Though they aren’t as invisible as clear aligners, they may be a no-brainer if you want a more traditional option but are worried about how you’ll look.

Some patients find ceramic braces more comfortable. They note that the materials are less irritating against the insides of their mouths.

However, discomfort from either option, ceramic or metal, will often fade after a few weeks of getting them. In either case, your local orthodontist will give you wax to place over the brackets, helping you keep irritation at bay.


Though metal and ceramic braces are often similar in price, ceramic braces can be a bit more expensive. This is due to the high-quality ceramic used. Because treatment with ceramic braces can take a bit longer, you may have to factor the added length into your budget as well.

Their size can sometimes make them harder to clean. There’s a learning curve to brushing and flossing with any braces, but chunky ceramic braces can sometimes be more of a challenge.

Ceramic braces have a higher risk of discoloration, with clear plastic bands being the most likely part to stain. However, you can often get around this by watching what you eat and brushing after each meal. We recommend carrying around a compact or folding travel toothbrush for this purpose.

As mentioned above, ceramic braces may be less effective for some patients. For mild to moderate crowding, you should be fine. However, if you’re seeking major changes to your smile, you may need to opt for metal braces for your treatment.

Which Option Is Best for You?

In general, either option is a great choice! However, there are some situations where you might want one over the other.

If you have severe malocclusion or you’re worried about your budget, metal braces might be ideal. As long as you don’t mind the look, these affordable and durable braces will often get your treatment done faster and sometimes for less.

If you have milder malocclusion or spacing issues and you don’t mind paying a bit more, try ceramic braces. These discreet options are also ideal for patients who’d feel self-conscious with traditional braces.

Let Us Help You Choose the Right Braces

We hope this blog has helped you better understand the differences between metal vs ceramic braces!

As you weigh your options, don’t forget that our orthodontic care team is here to help. Based on your needs, we’ll recommend a treatment option and work with you to find the type of braces that best suits your goals.

With over 250 years of combined experience, Zirbel Orthodontics has become the trusted orthodontic resource throughout Cottage Grove, Eagan, Woodbury, Hastings, and the neighboring areas. To take advantage of that expertise, schedule your free consultation online today!