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Braces: Choosing the right option

No matter what age you are there is a certain dread that comes with your orthodontist saying, “you need braces”. The first thing you think of is a mouth full of unsightly metal brackets and wires, with food getting stuck in them, that brings you pain monthly. While getting braces isn’t the experience most people want, the reward comes at the end with a beautiful smile that makes you want to show it off all the time.

When it comes to starting your orthodontic journey, the first step (outside of the initial consultation), is speaking with your orthodontist about your treatment options and what type of braces are right for you. Some of you might be surprised that you do have choices when it comes to the type and color of braces that are available to you.

There are many options when it comes to braces, but there are four common types offered by most orthodontists. Having these options makes it easy to find the right treatment that is effective at straightening your teeth and offers the features you want. You and your orthodontist can review the different orthodontic treatments available and pick the right one for you.

Traditional Metal Braces
Everyone knows what traditional metal braces are, they are the most common type of braces used. Traditional braces use metal brackets and wires to help move your teeth into alignment over time. These braces get adjusted and have improved over the years using high-grade stainless steel and allowing some orthodontists to use a heat activated arch wires that allow the natural heat in your mouth move teeth even faster.

Pros
Price: You hear “braces” and you automatically see “$$$”, the good news is that metal braces are the most affordable option.
Speed: No matter how complex the misalignment issue you might be facing; traditional braces can handle almost any issue at a steady pace.

Cons
Aesthetics: The biggest drawback to traditional braces is how noticeable they are and can make some people feel self-conscious. However, the fun side is the ability of picking different elastic colors at each visit to express yourself.
Discomfort: The biggest adjustment is the soreness that comes from regular adjustments. Luckily, it’s short-lived and goes away fairly soon after each adjustment. The other issue patients have is the wire poking the back of their mouth and cheeks, but can be clipped very easily and conveniently by your orthodontic team.

Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces, also known as clear braces, are like metal braces except that they are less visible. They are made with a tooth-colored ceramic for brackets making them blend in, leaving the wire as the only noticeable element.

While they have the benefit of blending in the brackets can stain from consuming things like wine, coffee and tea. They can also break due to the fact that they are not metal. That’s why this type of bracket is usually used on older teens and adults and is predominantly put on the upper teeth only.

Pros
Aesthetics: Ceramic braces are essentially “clear” braces and a lot less noticeable than metal braces.
Speed: Like traditional metal braces, ceramic braces can correct any alignment issue at a steady pace.

Cons
Staining: If you don’t brush regularly and care for your braces, ceramic braces can stain or get damaged.
Cost: Ceramic braces may cost a little more than metal braces, be sure to check with your orthodontist for more details on this.
Discomfort: Like traditional braces, ceramic braces can cause some pain when adjusted and the wires can poke the back of your mouth and cheeks.
Durability: Brackets can break requiring extra trips to the orthodontist to fix them, but most people who follow instructions and use caution while eating don’t have very many problems with breakage.

Clear Aligners
If you are truly looking for an option that is completely invisible and won’t restrict eating or change your oral hygiene habits, then clear aligners are the best choice for you. These designer braces were created over 20 years ago, consist of a series of plastic trays that help align your teeth, and are completely removable.

Clear Aligners are the newest addition to the world of orthodontics and have become hugely popular thanks to Invisalign®, the first and most recognized brand. Patients who choose this treatment plan have to wear the trays 22 hours a day to see the best results, but luckily, they are comfortable so it isn’t much of a hassle to do so. To prevent staining and damage to the trays, aligners need to be removed to eat, drink, floss and brush.

Pros
Aesthetics: Clear aligners are practically invisible and removable making this the most discreet option.
Comfort: Your entire treatment is metal-free and only consists of thin plastic that won’t poke your mouth, in some cases they clear trays may have a sharp edge and can easily be smoothed with an emery board or nail file.
Cost: Clear aligners are the exact same price as traditional metal braces with Blue Orthodontics. The cost won’t stop you from choosing this easy and convenient option.

Cons
Staining: If not cared for properly, Invisalign trays can become stained or damaged.
Effectiveness: There are certain situations where clear aligners are not able to accomplish the movement needed, so you may require a “hybrid” treatment. That means a combination braces and clear aligners to get an incredible result!

Self-Ligating Braces
Similar to traditional braces, self-ligating braces are metal and use brackets with clips that hold on to the wire versus elastics, like traditional braces. For some people, the lack of elastics eliminates the fun element of having metal braces, but the brackets are smaller making them less visible for those who want their braces to be more discreet.

Self-ligating braces work quickly and with the lack of elastic they require less trips to the orthodontist for adjustments. The bracket design also keeps food from getting stuck and patients find them to be less painful.

Pros
Maintenance: Self-ligating braces are easier to brush and floss.
Comfort: The brackets are smaller than traditional braces which most patients find to be more comfortable.

Cons
Effectiveness: Due to the bracket design, self-ligating braces may offer less precise movement and be less effective when rotating larger teeth.
Durability: The locking mechanism may break or get stuck requiring extra visits to the orthodontist and slowing down treatments.

If you or a family member need braces, there has never been a better time to get them. Orthodontic technology has advanced a lot over the years giving you more options that will fit with your lifestyle and making the whole process easier.

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