For the vast majority of orthodontic patients, wearing braces will be a major part of treatment — and those braces, for the most part, will be the familiar silvery-metal type. But while they’re still quite popular, traditional-looking metal braces are no longer the only option you have! 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 some 22 hours per day, but may be easily taken off as needed. While clear aligners can be effective in treating mild to moderate orthodontic problems, fixed appliances are generally needed for more comprehensive treatment.
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 glued 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. 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.
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 favourite for adults 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… but there are a few tradeoffs. The ceramic brackets can be less durable than their metal counterparts. Ceramic braces also cost more than metal — but for many people, the benefit of having an inconspicuous appliance outweighs the costs.
While ceramic braces certainly offer a less conspicuous look, there is still another system that allows fixed braces to be truly invisible. In some situations, special appliances called lingual braces can be placed on the tongue side of the teeth.
They work the same way other metal braces do — but even though they’re made of metal, they can’t be seen, because they’re hidden behind the teeth on the inside of the mouth.
Lingual braces aren’t the proper treatment for every orthodontic condition. Special training is required to install them, and they’re significantly more expensive than standard braces. They also generally require a bit more time for the wearer to get used to them, and they may slightly prolong treatment.
But if you want the least visible type of fixed appliance — and if you’re a candidate for this treatment option — then lingual braces may be just what you’re looking for.
Clear Aligners and Invisalign
Clear aligners are latest type of orthodontic treatment that may be used to correct a broad range of dental and orthodontic issues without the need to use metallic braces. Invisalign is just one of the several available brands of clear aligners
It works by using a series of nearly invisible, removable aligners that look like mini mouth guards that you change every two weeks.
Each aligner is individually made to exact calculations to gradually move your teeth into place and must be worn for at least 22 hours per day.
As you replace each aligner, your teeth will move little by little, week by week, until they have straightened to the final desired position.
What are the advantages of Clear aligners over traditional braces?
- Comfort. Clear aligners are comfortable as there are no wires and brackets which can often irritate the inside of the mouth and soft tissues.
- Convenience. Aligners are removable, unlike fixed metal braces. You have the flexibility to eat and drink what you want during treatment by simply removing the aligners. You can also remove the aligners to brush and floss as you normally would to maintain good oral hygiene and fresh breath.
- Aesthetics. As the aligners are completely transparent they are more difficult to detect than the traditional wire and bracket braces.
How is the treatment carried out?
During the initial consultation, your dentist will discuss the issues you have with your teeth and what kind of results you’re hoping to achieve. If clear aligners are suitable for you, a treatment plan will be formulated with your goals in mind.
Once you have approved the treatment plan, an aligner is manufactured for each stage of the computer simulation and sent to us so that treatment may be started.