Types of Braces
Modern orthodontic treatment offers more types of braces than ever before, for kids and adults alike. Straightening crooked teeth is not the only reason people wear braces. These orthodontic appliances can also significantly benefit your oral health.
Traditional metal and ceramic braces are much more discreet than they used to be and offer a greater level of comfort, while plastic aligners like Invisalign provide a hi-tech orthodontic alternative. Here, we’ll look at some of the most popular types of braces that offer a variety of choice in how to restore your smile.
Still a popular orthodontic choice, metal appliances are the least costly type of braces and remain the most effective in fixing serious cases of teeth crowding. Although they’re less conspicuous and more comfortable than they used to be, metal braces are still the most noticeable type of braces.
Metal braces have two basic components:
- Metal brackets fixed to the teeth.
- Flexible metal wire threaded through the brackets to apply pressure to move the teeth.
In the past, these brackets and wires were intrusive and conspicuous but nowadays are much sleeker and less noticeable. Advances in technology have also produced wires that realign teeth faster and with less discomfort.
Lingual braces are metal braces that are fixed onto the back of teeth rather than the front, which keeps them hidden from view. Specialized materials and a high degree of skill go into making lingual braces, so they’re more expensive than regular metal braces. However, they can be used to treat most orthodontic problems, although they can be difficult to keep clean.
Silver and Gold Braces
Silver braces have been around a long time and are still a popular option. They are now actually made of stainless steel because of its strength, and many variations are available. The technology behind silver braces is always progressing to make them more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
There’s no real difference between silver and gold braces other than the color. Made from gold-plated stainless steel, gold braces are often favored by patients who want to add a touch of style to their orthodontic treatment.
Ceramic braces are similar in shape and size to metal braces but contain tooth-colored or clear ceramic brackets with the same texture as teeth, so they blend in, particularly when tooth-colored wires are used. Ceramic braces cost more than metal ones but reposition your teeth faster than plastic aligners, although they are prone to staining if you don’t take proper care of them.
Invisalign Clear Aligners
The cutting-edge alternative to conventional braces, Invisalign1 clear plastic aligners are now the most popular removable type of brace. They're made from medical-grade polyurethane resin that’s practically invisible and are free from metal wires and brackets.
Designed for comfort and convenience, Invisalign moves teeth into their proper position gradually and gently, with a series of aligners that are worn for about 20 hours a day, providing precisely regulated movement of your teeth.
While standard braces can make oral hygiene difficult – posing a risk of tooth decay or gum problems – the removability of Invisalign allows you to brush and floss as normal. You can also pop out your aligner for a big occasion or to eat your favorite foods and take part in sports and other activities.
Invisalign can address many orthodontic problems but traditional braces may be better for more complex issues.
Other Types of Orthodontic Appliances
While all conventional braces rely on brackets and wires to move teeth into their proper position, other specialized orthodontic devices are used in certain cases. These include:
Lip bumpers. Comprising a wire across back teeth in the lower jaw, a lip bumper prevents your lips and cheeks from touching your teeth. Instead, they apply pressure to the bumper and push back the molars to create more space in cases of crowded teeth.
Bite plate. A small acrylic device, a bite plate has metal clasps that clip onto the inside of the top teeth. Bite plates are typically used at the start of orthodontic treatment to help correct a deep bite – when the upper teeth significantly overlap the lower teeth.
Orthodontic power chains. These are wires or elastic rings linked together to create a continuous band between teeth. They are used mainly to prevent gaps from developing between teeth.
Dental coil springs. Placed between brackets when two teeth are too close together, coil springs exert pressure to separate the teeth and open up space.
Palatal expander. Attached to upper molars, a palatal expander creates a wider space in the upper jaw so the upper and lower teeth can fit together properly.
Retainers. After your teeth have been straightened, you’ll need a retainer to hold them in their new position. Wearing your retainer as instructed is essential to prevent your teeth from shifting back out of their correct position.
Health Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment
Whatever type of braces you choose, orthodontic treatment can improve your dental health as well as give you a stunning smile. Improvements in appearance go hand in hand with reducing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
This message is reinforced by the American Dental Association2, which stresses that straightening crooked teeth can have a significant impact on your general oral health.
Straighter teeth result in a healthier mouth, enhanced appearance, and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime. Correcting orthodontic issues can also prevent bad breath and tooth sensitivity.
If you have misaligned teeth or bite issues, you’ll find that some types of braces are more suited for certain orthodontic problems than others. An orthodontist specialist can help you choose the braces that will work best for you.