Over four million people in the United States wear braces so if you’re considering taking the plunge, you’re not alone. Correcting out-of-place and crooked teeth isn’t just about boosting your self-confidence. It can also be an important process that can resolve serious complications.
With so many different types of braces on offer now it can be daunting to choose the right one for you. Read on for a full guide including the classic metal braces and clear aligners along with how to find the best orthodontist for the job.
How Do Braces Work?
Before getting into the different types of braces, it’s important to understand how braces work first.
Braces shift your teeth by using constant pressure over an extended period of time. The shape of your jaw gradually adapts as part of this process. The type of braces that you use will determine how the pressure is applied and what materials are used.
Classic Metal Braces
The most common type of braces has been around for over 100 years now. Today’s metal braces look much different from the versions of the past, however. Advancements in technology have made them smaller, more comfortable, and more effective.
Metal braces work by applying brackets to the teeth using orthodontic cement and connecting them with an archwire. Tiny elastic ties keep the wire in place and they come in a variety of colors.
Your orthodontist will make adjustments to the archwire every 4-8 weeks as the teeth move in small increments. On average, the whole process takes 24 months but some patients requiring less correction may need as few as 12 months and more complicated cases can get up to 3 years.
Clear or Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces operate in the same way as the classic metal braces except the metal is switched out with tooth-colored or clear ceramic. This allows them to blend in with your natural teeth making it less noticeable. The elastic ties for ceramic braces are usually see-through or white.
Compared to metal braces, the ceramic option works just as fast but they are typically more expensive.
Similar to the classic metal and ceramic braces, self-litigating braces have one distinct difference in design. Instead of using elastic rubber bands, the brackets are designed with a small spring-loaded door or gate-like mechanism to lock the archwire in place. They are also available in metal or ceramic material.
A lesser-known alternative to the classic metal braces is lingual braces. They work in a similar way to conventional braces except that the metal brackets are cemented to the backs of your teeth. This makes lingual braces virtually invisible and may be ideal for anyone with domestic concerns around the traditional options.
While they work just as quickly as metal braces, lingual braces require a different set of orthodontic skills so you’ll find fewer orthodontists able to get you fitted.
Lingual braces have many advantages but one thing you should know is some patients experience slight changes to their speech and lisps are unfortunately a common occurrence at the beginning of treatment.
You’ve likely heard of Invisalign, the clear aligners that work similarly to braces. Clear aligners in general have seen a huge surge in popularity recently and it’s easy to see why.
They’re transparent, removable, and require less frequent and shorter appointment times. One common complaint with metal and ceramic braces is that they can irritate your gums and cause mouth abrasions but clear aligners do not have this problem.
Aligners are clear trays that are customized to your specific teeth. You wear each aligner for 20 to 22 hours per day and switch them out with a new one every 1-2 weeks to accommodate the movement of teeth.
The fact that it’s removable might mean it’s less suitable for children since they are less likely to stick to the prescribed usage. You’re also required to brush and floss after every meal to avoid the increased risk of cavities.
Accelerate Your Straightening Time
For a comprehensive view of the different types of braces available, it’s relevant to note the options that are available to help speed up your braces treatment. If two years of your life wearing braces sounds like too much to deal with, then you can discuss these treatment options with your orthodontist.
AcceleDent is a removable, hands-free orthodontic device that can decrease your treatment time by up to 50%. You insert a tray into your mouth over either braces or aligners for 20 minutes a day. The tray sends gentle pulses to your teeth which promote faster tooth movement.
There is also some evidence that AcceleDent can reduce the discomfort or pain associated with braces and aligners.
Propel is also used in conjunction with metal braces or clear aligners but it’s a treatment that needs to be completed by your orthodontist. It stimulates the bone surrounding your teeth by making tiny holes through your gum and into the underlying bone. To make sure that you don’t feel any pain or discomfort during this procedure, your orthodontist will administer a local anesthetic.
Propel can cut the treatment time in half for some patients as it can speed up the movement of your teeth when compared to metal braces or aligners alone.
The Best Types of Braces for Your New Smile
Now that you have a better idea of the types of braces available, it’s time to consult a professional. The best orthodontist can help you choose the type to suit your lifestyle and unique alignment needs.
If you live in Utah, you can schedule a free consultation with us today and get started on the journey to a healthy and straighter smile.