Orthodontics (Braces) – What type is best for You ?
One of the most common procedures in cosmetic dentistry is the practice of orthodontics, also known as “braces”. Although some of us are born with the type of teeth that grow in smoothly and perfectly straight, many people aren’t so fortunate and will experience a few crooked teeth that could use some correction. Dental braces straighten teeth because they perform two very important functions; remain in place of an extended period of time and exert constant, steady pressure. Braces help teeth ease slowly into the proper position with optimal spacing over a gradual period of time. This combination allows braces to successfully change the arrangement and alignment of teeth in a patient’s mouth.
The type of dental braces you get depends on a number of factors:
- Severity of malocclusion (bite misalignment)
- Crookedness of your teeth
- Will extractions be required
- Is jaw surgery required
- Will “headgear” or other appliance be required
- Length of treatment (amount of time you will need to wear braces )
- Treatment method preferred by your dentist or orthodontist
- Cost of treatment
When considering dental braces, several options are available, including Metal Braces, Ceramic and “Tooth Colored” Braces, Clear Braces and Lingual (behind-the-teeth) Braces.
Stainless Steel (Metal) Braces are the most popular type of braces due mainly to their rugged functionality and manageable cost. They involve attaching small metal brackets to each tooth with a special type of cement. All of the brackets are then wired together and your dentist will make adjustments every few weeks to slowly ease the teeth into proper alignment. A typical course of treatment with metal braces can last up to two years.
Ceramic braces also require the attachment attaching larger brackets to each tooth, although they are almost clear and therefore less noticeable. Some patients prefer ceramic braces simply because they’re less visible, however the larger, less durable brackets do have a greater risk for damage and predisposing the patient to hygiene problems. People with ceramic braces must be very diligent and committed to maintaining a strict brushing and flossing routine.
Minor orthodontic issues can sometimes be corrected with Clear or Invisible Braces, which are basically transparent plastic aligners that are worn for up to 19 hours a day. Invisible braces are worn for two weeks, at which time you receive a new set of aligners. Each aligner set is slightly different and designed to impose gradual “shifts” to your teeth.
These clear aligners are normally held in place by tiny white “buttons” that your dentist will attach to your teeth. These buttons are colored to match your teeth and are virtually unnoticeable. Clear aligners or invisible braces must be removed in order to eat or drink. A typical course of treatment with clear braces or invisible aligners can last anywhere between 6 moths and two years.
Lingual braces are similar to metal braces, except for the fact that they attach to the back of your teeth instead as opposed to the front. Since lingual braces are hidden behind the teeth they are almost impossible to see when you smile. Installing braces behind your teeth takes additional time and expertise as compared with other types of orthodontics. Lingual braces are a viable option for athletes, models, actors, actresses, musicians, and adult entertainers where traditional braces may cause a disruption to their lifestyle.
Finding the best type of orthodontics or braces for you will depend on a variety of factors, which your dentist can discuss with you. Your age plays a big role in this decision, as will your current oral health and your lifestyle. To learn more about the types of braces available and which option would be best for you, it’s best to make an appointment and speak to your dentist.