Orthodontists are specialists and as you’d expect orthodontics have benefitted from the special attention this has brought to continually developing technological advances and options for treatment. For the vast majority of orthodontic patients, wearing fixed appliances (commonly called braces) will be a major part of treatment — and those braces, for the most part, will be the familiar silvery-metal type. But even braces have seen advances that have led to decreases in size, improved metals, even cosmetic enhancements! But while they’re still quite popular, traditional-looking metal braces are no longer the only game in town! Let’s have a look at some of the options available in orthodontic appliances.
First, we should distinguish between fixed and removable appliances. Fixed appliances like braces are attached to the teeth by metal bands or special cement. They aren’t normally taken off until treatment is complete. Removable appliances, such as clear aligners, are typically worn 22 hours per day, but may be easily taken off as needed. Depending on the treatment needed, the lifestyle of the patient and financial considerations, we will be able to recommend the right choice for you and your family.
Typically made of high-grade stainless steel, traditional metal braces remain by far the most common type of fixed orthodontic appliances. They consist of metal bands that wrap around the molars in back, and smaller metal brackets that are cemented to the front surfaces of the other teeth. A thin, springy metal wire, running through the brackets, gently guides the teeth into a proper position. This archwire may be fixed to the brackets by flexible elastics, metal ties, or other types of clasps.
There are many good reasons why time-tested metal braces remain popular — because they offer a reliable, effective and economical treatment option. As mentioned before, in contrast to the appliances of the past, today’s braces are actually smaller, lighter and more comfortable to wear. If you want a less traditional look, you may be able to choose colorful elastics for the brackets, or other modifications. Just ask us!
Clear ceramic braces are a new variation on the traditional system that provides a far less noticeable method of treatment. They use the same components as traditional braces — except that the brackets on the front side of the teeth are made of a translucent ceramic material that blends in with the tooth’s natural color. This system has become a favorite for adults (including some well-known celebrities) because, unless you look closely, it’s hard to notice they’re there!
Several types of ceramic braces are currently available, and the technology is constantly improving. Their aesthetic appeal is undeniable… be aware, though that there are a few tradeoffs. The ceramic brackets can be less durable than their metal counterparts; plus, while the brackets themselves don’t stain, the elastic bands that attach them to the archwire do (however, these are generally changed every few months.) Ceramic braces also cost more than metal — but for many people, the benefit of having an inconspicuous appliance outweighs the costs. We’re happy to help you consider what’s best for you!