Clear Braces vs. Metal Braces

Clear Braces vs. Metal Braces

woman with white clear ceramic bracesThe choice between clear braces or metal braces is becoming an age-old debate at the orthodontist’s office or the dentist’s office. For many patients who wish to straighten their teeth, the choice comes down to balancing the affect of orthodontics on your appearance, it’s impact on your budget, & the expected or desired outcome for your particular case.

Are you considering getting braces but don’t know which kind is right for you? Or has your dentist or orthodontist has told you you aren’t eligible for clear braces? Here are some basics that we hope will clear things up.

There’s More Than One Kind of Clear Braces

When we say clear braces, most people think of clear plastic aligners like Invisalign or ClearCorrect. These aligners are made from a mold of your teeth & look like a thin mouthguard. Because they are clear, these aligners are nearly invisible. People won’t know you’re wearing an orthodontic appliance, even from a few feet away. They work by gently pushing your teeth into a position that matches the custom-designed aligner. We refer to this type of orthodontic treatment as clear aligners or invisible braces. We should note that clear aligners treatments usual cost more than traditional braces options.

There are also traditional braces made from innovative new materials that are nearly invisible. The difference is the brackets that attach to your teeth & hold the archwire in place are clear instead of metal, hence why we call them clear braces.  As a result, you won’t have the typical “metal mouth” appearance that we associate with traditional braces, but you’ll get the same treatment power as traditional braces. Examples of these clear braces are Damon System or Six Month Smiles. If this is an option that interests you, ask your orthodontist about clear braces.

A similar option is white or ceramic braces. White or ceramic refers to tooth-colored brackets that are attached to your teeth & hold the arch wire. Just like clear braces, with white or ceramic braces you won’t have a mouth full of metal, & people might not even notice you have braces from a distance or in photographs. Both ceramic braces & clear braces tend to be about the same price as metal braces.

Traditional Metal Braces Are Sticking Around for Good

Despite all the advances in orthodontics technology & the new braces & aligners products on the market, traditional metal braces will always be an option. The major reason for this is only the technology of traditional metal braces can be used to treat certain severe or complex cases. If some of your teeth need to be moved pretty far in order to give you a straight & aligned smile, traditional braces may be the only choice…at least at first. It is possible to start your orthodontics treatment using traditional braces to complete complex tooth movements & then switch to clear aligners to bring teeth into their final position.

If your dentist or orthodontist has told you that you’re not a candidate for invisible aligners (such as Invisalign), keep in mind that they have the best results for a straight smile in mind. Even if you’re worried about how you’ll look with metal braces, think about how amazing you’ll look with a new smile in a few months when the orthodontic treatment is complete! So if metal braces are your only option, we still say, go for it! You’ll be grateful for your new smile in the end.

Today’s Many Options for Braces

Today’s Many Options for Braces
Young girl with braces

Source: BRENDA MICHELLE on Flickr

When you think of braces, you may think of months to years of a mouth full of metal, but just like all other technologies, the technology of straightening teeth has advanced in recent years. There are lots of options for braces these days, some of which you might not even call braces.

For example, invisible braces systems (like Invisalign®) use clear aligner trays to gently coax your teeth into position. These types of aligners can be removed temporarily to eat, so there are fewer restrictions on the foods you can enjoy when using clear aligners to get straighter smile. Invisible braces treatment can be performed by your dentist, without the need to visit an orthodontist separately (though most orthodontists also do invisible braces).

There are also lingual braces, which are essentially invisible because they are on the backside of your teeth (near your tongue). Lingual braces are a great option for those who want to straighten their teeth without appearing to have braces. However, because lingual braces are very customized, they may cost more than traditional braces that go on the front of your teeth.

Clear or white braces are another option that can straighten your teeth nearly invisibly. Clear braces use clear or white brackets instead of metal ones, so your braces are not as obvious. From a distance, people may not notice your braces at all.

You can complete your braces treatment more quickly by choosing one of the fast or quick braces technologies. These braces systems use innovative new versions of orthodontic technology to move teeth more quickly, or only move a few teeth at a time, so you can have a straight, aligned smile in as little as three to six months, as opposed to the typical 12 to 18 months with regular braces.

And then there are traditional metal braces with metal brackets. While not the most aesthetically pleasing, traditional braces have a unique advantage over all the other types of tooth straightening technology: they can be used to treat nearly any orthodontic problem. Not everyone’s teeth can be helped by the clear, fast or invisible options mentioned above. Ultimately, a dozen or so months wearing braces is worth it for a new straight smile that will last for years to come.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment when it comes to braces. There are lots of elements to consider when choosing an option for braces, including time, cost, appearance, & what needs to be fixed (overbite, underbite, crossbite, etc.). Your dentist & your orthodontist can discuss the options with you & help you choose a treatment plan that fits your needs & desires.

Great Reasons to Get Braces

Great Reasons to Get Braces

Young woman with bracesMany people think of braces as a right of passage that we subject pre-teens & teens to in the midst of their most awkward years just to ensure they have a nice straight smile by the time they reach adulthood. But the truth is that braces can benefit people of all ages & not all of the reasons to get braces are aesthetic.

While most of us think of getting braces in order to have straight teeth, braces have a purpose beyond cosmetics. Braces can be used to treat misaligned bites (the technical term is malocclusion), which left untreated can contribute to difficulty chewing, jaw pain, & uneven wear on your teeth. Once your braces treatment is finished, you’ll get the benefit of a beautiful smile that is also functional.

In addition to this, braces have other benefits for your oral health: straight, properly spaced teeth are also easier to clean. When you teeth are properly aligned there are fewer places where your toothbrush can’t reach that might accumulate bacteria & plaque that could lead to tooth decay. The same goes for properly spaced teeth: it is much easier to floss teeth that are not too crowded.

Another side benefit of braces treatment is an improvement to your facial aesthetics. If the purpose of your braces is to fix an underbite, overbite or otherwise misaligned bite, the result may also result in a more proportional & attractive relationship between your jaw & the rest of your face. It should be noted that more severe jaw alignment problems cannot be fixed by braces alone & may also require jaw surgery. While facial aesthetics alone are not necessarily a reason to get braces, improvements in this area are often seen once treatment is finished.

Your options for orthodontic treatment may vary when it comes to braces that are for primarily for cosmetic versus structural purposes. Many of the clear or quick options, such as clear aligners, may not be able to fix more complex orthodontic problems the way that traditional braces can. But while traditional braces may not be as attractive or fast as other braces or aligners, you will still end up with a beautiful, straight smile at the end of your treatment. No two sets of teeth are quite the same, so start a discussion with your doctor or orthodontist about which braces options might be right for you.