Basic Guide to Dental Braces

Few of us are fortunate enough to have perfect teeth and a perfect smile. Luckily, orthodontic treatments have advanced considerably and now you can rejoice in knowing that you or your child have a lot more options than the traditional metal braces which were so “popular” some time ago. Nowadays, some are very subtle and you can only spot them if you happen to carry a dental mirror around with you (and if you do, why?).

Depending on your own aesthetic preferences and your orthodontist’s recommendation you can choose the most suitable option for your needs. This article aims at describing some of the most popular types of braces today.

Metal Braces

Metal races or conventional braces are still the most prevalent type of braces. They comprise of metal brackets, rubber bands and archwires which are attached to the front of your teeth with special glue. The metal used is typically high-quality stainless steel.

Metal braces are the most affordable and versatile option. They can be used to correct more severe cases of misalignment. Unfortunately, they’re also the least subtle option, even if modern metal braces now come in more colors to make them more attractive, they’re still quite noticeable.

On the other hand, treatment with metal braces tends to last less than with the other options, so even if you might feel self-conscious for a year or two, you can take them off sooner and you save money.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces in terms of mechanism, the difference being that they’re made using ceramic material which blends better with the natural color of your teeth. This makes them very popular with people that may feel too self-conscious to wear metal braces, however, the treatment tends to take longer and cost more.

Ceramic braces also tend to be less durable than the metal ones, fractures are more common so you’ll need to replace the brackets more often. Likewise, if not properly cared for, the ceramic material tends to stain.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are also similar to metal braces: they’re both made of metal and they have the same components. The difference is that lingual braces are attached to the back of your teeth, making them virtually invisible. That’s an obvious advantage.

The disadvantage is that, since they’re at the back of the teeth, they may be uncomfortable. When you speak your tongue has to make contact with the roof of the mouth or your teeth so you might also have a lisp for a longer period than with conventional braces. Another disadvantage is that they’re more difficult to clean.

Invisalign

Invisalign is very different from the previous types of braces because they don’t use the typical brackets and wires, instead, they’re based on a system of custom-made clear plastic aligners you wear over your teeth and which you change every two weeks.

Every two months or so, you’ll go for a check-up so your orthodontist can see how much progress you’ve made. You’ll require somewhere between 18 to 30 aligners to get straight teeth, depending on the severity of your misalignment.

Although they’re more expensive, they’ve become very popular:

  • they’re a lot more comfortable (it feels similar to a mouth guard)
  • they have to be worn 20 hours per day but that means you can remove them to eat and brush your teeth which makes it a lot easier, you don’t have to worry about getting food stuck in your braces
  • they require very little maintenance, they just need to be cleaned (also like a mouth guard) and since you change them every two weeks, you won’t have the same issues with fractured brackets as with ceramic braces

Some of the disadvantages are that the treatment might take longer and when you take them off to eat, you have to brush your teeth before putting them back on so that means you have to brush your teeth after every single meal.

If you’re interested in Invisalign, the West House Dental practice offers a more comprehensive guide on how the treatment with this type of braces works.

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces will look very similar to traditional metal braces. The difference is that conventional metal braces use elastic bands to connect to brackets to the wire, while self-ligating braces, as the name suggests, use a sort of door mechanism (clips) which can be opened and closed to hold the wire in place.

This means you don’t have to go to the orthodontist as often to replace the ties, and treatment tends to take less time because there’s less friction to slow down teeth alignment, and they’re more comfortable.

One disadvantage is that you can’t get them in different colors like metal braces because that color comes from the ties, so they’ll look pretty much like conventional, boring braces unless you get ceramic self-ligating braces and then you combine the benefits from both categories.

Forsus Appliances

Forsus appliances have replaced the function of orthodontic headgear, they’re used to correct class II malocclusion by moving the molars back and pushing the lower arch forward. It’s basically a spring used in conjunction with your regular braces over a period of 4 to 6 months. It’s attached to the braces, on the inside of our cheeks and uses gentle, continuous force to align your upper and lower arch to the desired position.

This sort of correction is best done during childhood but tit’s also possible for adults.

Palatal Expanders

Palatal expanders are used to remedy the issue of overcrowded teeth. In the past, this was done through tooth extraction, but nowadays, this device can be used to apply pressure to the back of your upper molars and gradually move them apart, making room for the rest of your teeth to align properly.

After the palatal expander makes enough room which can take as little as 1 to 3 weeks but if needed, it has to remain in place for up to 6 months, regular braces can be fitted.

Although palatal expanders are most effective for children (because the two bones that make up the maxilla are not completely fused until after puberty), they can also be used for adults but usually in conjunction with surgical expansion.

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