A Guide To the Types of Braces Used in Orthodontics Today
The orthodontic world has come a long way and today there are many different types of braces to choose from. So when it comes to straightening your smile, how do you know which option is right for you? La Habra/Chino Hills orthodontist Dr. Robert Gire of Gire Orthodontics explains the types of braces used in orthodontic offices.
Chances are, when you think of someone in braces, you picture someone in these standard metal braces. This system uses metal wires and brackets to guide teeth to their proper locations. But, today’s metal braces aren’t what they used to be – they are sleeker and more efficient than ever before. Some even utilize heat-activated archwires, which use your body’s own heat to help your teeth move quicker and more comfortably compared to other wires. This is still the most popular type of braces because they are extremely effective, both in moving teeth and cost. These also utilize the color ties that you see all the kids wearing.
Ceramic braces work the same as standard metal braces but use clear or ceramic tooth colored brackets rather than metal brackets. This allows them to blend in with the natural teeth better so the treatment will be less noticeable. Some may even utilize tooth colored wires to help them blend in even more. Generally they will be slightly more expensive than metal braces, simply because they are more labor intensive and more expensive to manufacture. They are made of a glass or porcelain so they may tend to break or fracture if impacted or if the patient is rough with them. They also use a clear tie (rather than a color tie), and the clear ties have a higher tendency of acquiring stains so patients have to pay close attention to their choice of food and drinks to avoid staining.
Lingual braces are metal braces, with a twist. They are placed on the tongue, or lingual side of the teeth. This makes them invisible to others so you can straighten your teeth without them being visible. There are some downsides to these braces however. They are a bit more expensive than standard metal braces and regular adjustments are more complicated so follow-up appointments will generally take longer. They may not be appropriate for more severe types of cases and it may take your mouth longer to adjust to these braces. These are probably the least popular since speech may be altered, the tongue will likely get sores at the beginning of treatment, and more breakage/fracture/dislodging of the braces are seen with this system.
Self-ligating braces are like metal braces but they do not utilize color or metal ties. The unique slide technology of these brackets eliminates excess friction and pressure, which initially makes treatment faster and more comfortable. They are also available in clear brackets, giving a more esthetically pleasing option. These tend to be the most popular because everyone likes to hear, “more comfortable and shorter treatment times.”
Chances are good you’ve heard the marketing hype around Invisalign and for good reason. Patients who use Invisalign love it. Invisalign uses a series of clear plastic aligners that fit over your teeth, much the way a mouthguard does. Because the aligners are clear, they can be worn without others even realizing you’re straightening your teeth. They are removable, which means there is no need to make adjustments to your diet or oral hygiene routine. However, Invisalign may not be right for patients with more serious malocclusions. Invisalign is a generally more expensive option, and can potentially take longer to get the smile you want, depending on the case.
“There are a lot of options out there for today’s orthodontic patients,” says Dr. Gire. “My advice is always for patients to do their research and then discuss their findings with their orthodontist. We love it when our patients do their research so they have an understanding of the basics of all of the options available. We use these options all day, every day, so we can always provide a unique insight that you can’t get from reading reviews, blogs, and forums online.”
Dr. Gire’s goal is always to provide his patients with a beautiful and functional smile, while taking into account the patient’s desires. He loves to discuss his treatment plans and all the options available with his patients, including the pros and cons of each option. Together, Dr. Gire and the patient can ultimately find the treatment option that will work best for the patient’s unique situation.