Many of us pass up the opportunity of braces in our self-conscious teenage years only to regret that decision as we grow older. If you’re self-conscious about your smile and are considering what orthodontic options might be open to you, this article explains the different types of braces currently available.
Traditional metal braces
The traditional metal braces that your dentist possibly discussed with you when you were younger are still the most commonly used. Why is this? They are exceptionally strong and can withstand most types of treatment. They are also typically the least expensive of all braces.
With metal braces, a bracket is glued on to each tooth and the wires themselves can be silver or gold in colour, which can look really attractive. Most traditional metal braces require an O-shaped elastic band (ligatures) to keep the arch wire and brackets attached to each other. These days, you have a choice of ligature colours to individualise the appearance of your braces.
Traditional metal braces can deliver excellent results over a typical treatment period of two years. You may need to adapt your diet a bit while wearing them and take extra special care when cleaning your teeth. Check out some of our FAQs on adult orthodontics.
Ceramic braces are made of composite materials with varying levels of transparency or tooth-coloured materials, making them a favourite choice amongst adults who are worried about the cosmetic appeal of their braces. The clear ceramic braces do not usually stain, although the clear or white metal ties may pick up some discolouration from what you eat and drink. Fortunately, these are changed every time an adjustment is made (typically monthly) so it shouldn’t be a significant problem.
Although ceramic braces are strong, they are less resilient than traditional metal braces and can wear down the enamel on your teeth, so they may not be recommended for some biting patterns. The treatment may take slightly longer than with metal braces and cost more. However, for many people, the cosmetic appeal is the deciding factor.
Lingual braces are bonded to the back of your teeth instead of in front, making them the most discreet brace option currently available as they are completely invisible when you smile. Not every dental practice will offer lingual braces because of the training and expertise required to fit them. They can also be more uncomfortable to have fitted and adjusted because of the smaller inner arch. As you might expect, lingual braces are more expensive than traditional metal braces because of the smaller fit and specialist knowledge your orthodontist needs to have.
Invisible braces/adult orthodontics
There are a number of invisible braces or clear aligners now available. These each have different benefits. Popular orthodontic products include Invisalign, the Inman Aligner, Six Month Smiles and Clearstep.
Invisible orthodontics tend to use clear positioners or aligners that are barely visible when worn. They are also removable, which means that you can take them out when eating and cleaning your teeth. As a result, they are less likely to cause gum problems or tooth decay than fixed metal braces.
Invisible orthodontics are generally used to target specific problems, such as crooked front teeth, which means that the treatment time is faster but less likely to offer a ‘whole mouth’ solution. Invisalign aligners, for example, are excellent for treating mild teeth alignment or crooked front teeth but they won’t be suitable for every adult. Invisible orthodontics are not usually suitable for children, although there may be different product options that we can advise you about.
As invisible orthodontics are usually removable, there is a temptation to take them out regularly but, to be effective, the aligners should be worn as much as possible. With Invisalign, this would mean 20-22 hours a day. Wearing your aligners sporadically can lengthen the treatment times and add extra costs because different aligners need to be made.
Invisible aligners are made from modern, lightweight materials that offer a high level of comfort for the wearer. There are no brackets or wires to catch against your tongue or gums. You may experience some discomfort, as with all braces, simply because of the pressure exerted by the aligner to reposition your teeth.
Self-litigating braces are similar to traditional metal braces but with one major exception – they do not feature the elastic ligatures. Instead, the arch wire of the brace is held in place by a clever sliding mechanism that reduces the amount of pressure exerted on the teeth and eliminates the need for tightening.
Self-litigating braces tend to be lighter, smaller and more aesthetically-pleasing than traditional metal braces, although thicker wires are used successively, resulting in shorter treatment times and fewer adjustments. Another great benefit of self-litigating braces is that it is not usually necessary to remove any of your teeth.
Although self-litigating braces are easier to keep clean than traditional metal braces, they are still attached to your teeth and cannot be removed during treatment. As a result, it’s essential that you clear carefully around the braces and that you avoid too much sugar consumption.
To find out more about which braces would be best for you, give us a call on 01622 761067 or fill in a form.