A lot has changed in the dental industry, particularly when it comes to braces.
Types vary, ranging from traditional metal braces to lingual and clear braces. This gives both parents and their kids a lot to think about as they map out a treatment plan. No two mouths are alike, so weighing all the pros and cons of each option is important.
Here, we’ll walk you through all the ins and outs, so you can choose the best brace type for you or your children.
Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional metal braces are the most well-known brace type, and are more effective and comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, they straighten your teeth using metal brackets and archwires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.
Because the materials orthodontists use are so strong, metal braces are the most durable and reliable of all your options. In other words, they get the job done. In fact, a 2019 peer-reviewed study published in BMC Oral Health found that metal braces were more effective in treating teeth rotation than clear aligners.
Depending on your preference, there are a few downsides. Patients with metal braces are more likely to experience discomfort from the pressure they put on the teeth. Some even say metal braces leave a sweet, bitter taste in their mouth that’s difficult to ignore.
Metal braces are also the most eye-catching of the bunch. However, with metal braces, you can add colorful elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and bright smile.
Self-ligating braces are made from the same materials as traditional braces. However, they do not require elastics, which means fewer appointments and less friction placed on the tooth.
Self-ligating braces come with traditional metal, ceramic, or clear brackets. They are the same size as metal braces, but use a specialized clip in place of elastics to help the archwire guide teeth into place. The clip helps reduce the amount of pressure placed on the tooth, and requires fewer adjustments because there are no elastics to replace.
For some, comfort is the most important consideration when choosing from all the different types of braces brackets. Using clips instead of elastics makes self-ligating braces far more comfortable than metal braces as they slowly slide the teeth into a better position.
They’re easy to clean, too. Self-ligating braces don’t have any ligatures, so they won’t trap food, making it easier to maintain a healthy brushing and flossing routine.
Clear (Ceramic) Braces
Ceramic braces are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. For this reason, ceramic braces are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns.
While they are visually less prominent, they require more attention to oral hygiene because ceramic braces are larger and more brittle than their metal counterparts. For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth.
For people who might be self-conscious, clear braces are a big plus. They’re more aesthetically pleasing and less noticeable than metal braces — and patients wearing clear braces usually experience less irritation than those wearing traditional metal braces.
The downside? Clear braces often cost more than metal braces, and the materials are less reliable, making them more prone to damage. Treatment might last longer with clear braces, too. For those who want faster results, metal braces might be a better option.
Clear aligners are a series of invisible, removable, and comfortable acrylic trays that straighten your teeth like braces. Not only are the aligners invisible, they are removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment; plus, brushing and flossing are less of a hassle. The aligners are comfortable and contain no metal to cause mouth abrasions during treatment.
As with all types of braces, there are a few cons. The braces themselves need to be washed as often as your teeth, and if you skip a few cleanings, they can get dirty, making them easier to see.
They’re also better suited for particular issues. Depending on your specific needs — If you need to rotate certain teeth into place, for instance — clear aligners won’t work.
Lingual braces are hidden behind the teeth and are therefore “invisible” when you smile. Lingual braces are 100% customized to match the shape of your teeth, and therefore, the metal appliances are created uniquely for you. They are a very reasonable option for athletes, models, actors/actresses, musicians who play wind instruments, and adult professionals.
The biggest surprise here is that lingual braces take a few weeks to get used to and can often cause slurred speech and tongue irritation. However, your cheeks and gums won’t rub against the braces, so any discomfort should be brief and limited to the tongue.
If you have any questions about the different types of braces, we’re here for you. Contact us to schedule an appointment.