Most orthodontic patients will wear fixed appliances or braces as a major part of their treatment plan. These braces are typically the familiar silver metal type. While they are still the most popular, the traditional style metal braces are not the only option anymore! More and more, people are choosing clear braces. Below we will look at some of the orthodontic appliance options.
There are two types of appliances. Fixed and removable. A fixed appliance is attached to your teeth by a special cement or metal bands. A fixed appliance, like braces, would not be taken off until the treatment is completed. Clear aligners, which are removable, are typically worn up to 22 hours a day. Mild to moderate orthodontic problems are best suited for clear aligners, while fixed appliances are typically needed to offer a more comprehensive treatment.
The most common type of fixed orthodontic appliance is the traditional metal brace, which is normally made of a high-grade stainless steel. Metal bands are wrapped around the back molars, and smaller metal brackets are cemented to the front surfaces of the other teeth. To gently guide the teeth back into alignment, a thin, spring like metal wire is used. Flexible elastics, metal ties, or another type of clasp may be used to fixed the archwire to the brackets.
Metal braces continue to remain popular because they are an effective and economical treatment option. Today's braces are smaller, lighter and more comfortable to wear compared to the ones of the past. Modifications for a less traditional look include colorful elastics.
A far less noticeable variation on the traditional metal brace are clear braces. These use the same components of a traditional system, however, 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 is a popular choice amongst adults. They are hard to notice, unless looking closely.
There are several different options of ceramic braces available and the technology used is constantly improving. While they are the most aesthetically appealing, there are a few tradeoffs. A ceramic bracket, compared to a metal bracket, can be less durable. Also, while the clear brackets themselves do not stain, the elastic bands that are used to attach the archwire do. Keep in mind though, elastics are typically changed out monthly. Finally, ceramic braces do typically cost more, although having an appliance that is inconspicuous will typically outweigh the cost.
Most often, when you think of orthodontics, you would typically associate this with a teenager who has a mouth full of metal. While there are many patients who would fit this description, there is now a popular alternative to traditional metal braces: Invisalign® clear aligners.
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