Are you self-conscious about your smile? Do you want to improve your bite, or perhaps decrease your risk for tooth decay and gingivitis? If you are one of the one million adults who have chosen to wear braces, the decision becomes, what type is right for you?
Metal Braces – Metal braces are still the most commonly used tooth adjustment system. PROS: Least expensive option averaging a payment plan totaling $4,000-$5,000 CONS: can be painful and these braces are noticeable.
Ceramic Braces – Ceramic Braces utilize the same concept as metal braces: a bracket with elastic ties holding a wire onto the bracket. PROS: Ceramic braces come in different colors becoming less noticeable by matching the color of your teeth. CONS: Ceramic braces are more expensive than metal braces and the brackets can stain easily if not well cared for.
Lingual Braces – Lingual Braces are traditional metal braces that are attached to the back side of the tooth. PROS: Hidden from view CONS: Can be irritating to the tongue and may cause speech issues. They are difficult to clean. Also, not all orthodontists use Lingual Braces due to the difficulty of attaching them and the extended length of time adjustments take.
Clear Removable Aligners – Removable aligners, such as Invisalign, can only be used on “simple” cases. They consist of 18-30 custom-made clear plastic aligners that adjust teeth. PROS: Invisalign allows for nightly or special occasion removal and eliminates the risk of staining and damage that can sometimes be caused by braces. Patients are not restricted in what they eat or drink. CONS: Invisalign is expensive (an average of $500 more for a one year treatment) and must be worn longer than traditional braces. If a tray is lost or damaged it is costly to replace. Not available for children.
Self-Ligating Braces – Like the traditional braces, Self-Ligating Braces come in metal, ceramic or clear. The difference is that instead of using tiny bands to hold the wire to the bracket, these braces utilize a clip system to hold the wires in place. PROS: Self-Ligating Braces are not as painful and fewer appointments are needed for adjustments. Without the elastics, less food becomes trapped around the bracket reducing the potential for staining. Damon self-ligating braces claim to work faster than traditional braces. SPEED self-ligating braces are much smaller than other brands CONS: These tend to be a few hundred dollars more than standard braces. The brackets will sometimes pop open.
Customized Orthodontic Treatments – Customized orthodontic treatments utilize “advanced 3-D imaging, virtual simulations and robotically bent archwires customized for your treatment” (SureSmile). PROS: Teeth move faster and with precision. CONS: Uncomfortable and expensive.
Smart Braces – Smart braces incorporate computer technology by placing a chip on the brackets, or retainer, which gives the orthodontist information she can use to align the teeth. PROS: By being exact, Smart Braces will reduce the length of time braces need to be worn. CON: not on the market yet.
In 1982 my next door neighbor had the metal braces that wrapped around each tooth. I was lucky enough to be able to get the “newer” technique when my orthodontist used a bonding material to attach my brackets, sparing me the “metal mouth”. In a short three decades, my son now has braces that are smaller, more comfortable, and worn for a shorter period of time. Perhaps my future grandchild’s Orthodontia work will be a single office visit.