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.

What Is TMJ & How Can a Dentist Help?

What Is TMJ & How Can a Dentist Help?

What Is TMJ

The temporomandibular joints are the joints on either side of your head that connect your jaw to your skull & allow you to open & close your mouth, chew, & speak. Because it can move in many different directions, these joints are some of the most complex in your body. Any problems with these joints are also referred to as TMJ disorder, or just TMJ.

Symptoms of TMJ

Symptoms of TMJ can include:

  • Jaw clicking, popping, or locking
  • Headaches or earaches
  • Pain when mouth is opened widely
  • Tenderness of jaw muscles

The cause of your TMJ can determine which or how many of these symptoms you have. At most dental checkups, your dentist or dental hygienist will check for tenderness in your jaw muscles to see if TMJ might be present.

Causes of TMJ

TMJ does not always have an obvious cause, but there are a few common possibilities for the origins of a TMJ problem:

  • Injury or dislocation
  • Teeth clenching (often from stress)
  • Arthritis
  • Poor tooth or jaw alignment

How Can a Dentist Help?

While many probably think of dentist as just teeth doctors, we can’t treat you properly without looking at your mouth as part of a system. That system definitely includes your temporomandibular joint. A dentist can help in diagnosing your TMJ disorder, & may also refer you to a physician or a specialist dentist for further diagnosis.

Because TMJ can be caused by tooth & jaw alignment problems, there are dental treatments that may help. Your dentist may refer you to an orthodontist for treatments like braces, which can help realign the teeth & the jaws so that your mouth can close in the proper position. Treatment form an orthodontist can alleviate TMJ symptoms in many cases.

If your TMJ comes from teeth grinding or clenching, your dentist may recommend that you wear a custom dental appliance. Often called a bite plate or a splint, this appliance will keep your upper teeth from grinding against your lower teeth. In addition to alleviating TMJ symptoms, this bite guard will prevent wear on your teeth from grinding that can lead to other problems.

Other treatments for TMJ include using hot & cold packs, taking anti-inflammatory &/or muscle relaxing medications, or learning relaxation techniques to reduce tension in your jaw muscles. In certain rare cases, TMJ may require jaw surgery to correct.

If you are concerned that you may have symptoms that indicate TMJ, please speak with your dentist about it. We want to get you relief from pain & discomfort as quickly as we can!