Junior High School is about the time that parents look into getting dental braces for their teenagers. Dental braces (also known as orthodontic braces or just plain old “braces”) help straighten and align the teeth. They can correct overbites, crooked teeth, and cross bites, resulting in a prettier smile for your teen while improving their dental health. Today’s teens and their parents have a choice of four different types of braces. They all have their advantages and disadvantages; here is how they worked for my teenagers.
Two of my teens had metal braces, which have definitely come a long way since the ’70s. Contemporary braces are smaller than the “old styles” we parents remember and now use colored bands to guide the teeth into position. Of the four types of dental braces available, metal braces are the least expensive plus they are fun in that the bands can be switched out to reflect school colors or special events.
Metal braces do have some disadvantages. My teens had a problem with the metal catching on the inside of the mouth. We were also warned about the possibility of permanently staining the teeth due to improper cleaning. Metal braces are also the most visible type of braces available.
These braces are just like the metal ones except that the brackets are tooth colored and the wires are clear which makes them appear nearly invisible. We checked into this option with one of our children and discovered that ceramic braces cost nearly $1000 more than the more traditional metal braces.
The higher price is definitely a disadvantage. Another factor; ceramic is more prone to staining which means having to avoid things like coffee, tea, and foods or beverages with red or blue dye.
Lingual braces are metal braces that are placed on the inside of the teeth where they are hidden from view. One of my teens had lingual braces for a short time and hated them. He felt they were much more difficult to clean, harder (and took longer) to adjust, and hurt more than the braces that were glued to the front of the teeth.
The Invisalign is a clean plastic mouth-guard type of device that moves teeth into position. The Invisalign aligner trays are switched out every 2 weeks to gradually move teeth into alignment. The big advantage with the Invisalign is that it’s practically invisible and won’t stain your teeth. The disadvantage is the much higher price, higher replacement cost ($100 or more per aligner), and the increased time it takes for the teeth to shift into position. My teen daughter was shifted to an Invisalign towards the end of her orthodontic treatment and disliked how they garbled her speech and increased her saliva output. She eventually switched back to a metal retainer.
Braces are an expensive investment for families of teenagers. Knowing what styles are available, the price, and how well they work will help you and your teen decide which type of braces will be the better option.