Types of Braces
Orthodontic treatment usually requires patients to wear braces for the majority of the treatment. Braces are usually the familiar silvery-metal type, however these are not the only option. Let’s review some of the other types available.
Before we dive into all the types of braces, we should distinguish between fixed and removable appliances. Traditional braces are fixed appliances. They are attached to the teeth by metal bands or special cement. They usually aren’t removed until the orthodontic treatment is done. Removable appliances, such as clear aligners, are normally worn about 22 hours a day, and can be removed for eating and brushing. Clear aligners can be effective in treating mild to moderate orthodontic problems, while fixed appliances are normally needed for more comprehensive treatment.
Traditional braces, one of the most common orthodontic appliances, are usually made of high-grade stainless steel. They consist of metal bands which wrap around the molars in the back, and small metal brackets that are cemented to the front surfaces of the other teeth. A thin metal wire runs through these brackets and over time guides the teeth into their proper positions. The metal wire, or archwire, is fixed to the brackets by clasps, metal ties, or flexible elastics.
Is is no accident that traditional metal braces remain popular. They are reliable, effect, and economical. As time moves on, braces are also getting smaller, lighter, and more comfortable. If you want something a little less traditional, you can even choose color elastics for the brackets, or other modifications.
Ceramic braces are a new variation to the traditional option. They use the same technology, however instead of having metal brackets attached to the teeth, translucent ceramic material is used. The ceramic brackets blend more closely to the tooth’s natural color, creating a more subtle appearance. Many adults (and some well-know celebrities) often choose these over metal braces.
The technology and variations of ceramic braces are constantly growing, however there are a few tradeoffs. Ceramic brackets are less durable than metal. Also, while the brackets don’t stain, the elastic bands that attach them to the archwire do. However, the elastic bands are changed every month. Ceramic braces are also more expensive than metal, but for some the benefits of having subtle appliances out weighs the costs.
Ceramic braces are certainly less noticeable than traditional braces, but lingual braces can be truly invisible. Lingual braces, in certain situations, can be placed on the tongue side of the teeth, hiding them from apparent view. They work the same way as other metal braces do, just from behind the teeth.
Lingual braces aren’t always the proper treatment for all orthodontic conditions. Installation requires a trained professional, and is more expensive than traditional braces. Since they are on the inner wall of the teeth, the wearer may take more time getting used to them, and they might prolong treatment. But if you desire the least noticeable treatment, and are an approved candidate for this option, then lingual braces may be for you!
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