Trying to decide between metal braces and clear (ceramic) braces? The best option for you will depend on a number of factors. Our Ottawa orthodontists explain why these options, along with clear aligners, are so hotly debated.
How do Braces Help?
Braces will straighten your teeth and realign them into their corrected positions. They are suitable for both simple and complex orthodontic issues, including misalignment, underbite, overbite and crossbite.
Because they are more difficult to clean than straight teeth, misaligned teeth can lead to other dental and oral health problems, such as tooth decay or gum disease. Teeth that are misaligned can also become more easily worn down due to an uneven wear pattern. There are also aesthetics to take into consideration. Many people with misaligned teeth or a misaligned bite feel insecure about the appearance of their smiles. Finally, misaligned teeth can sometimes make regular daily activities like eating or talking more difficult.
Braces can help fix misaligned teeth, thereby addressing the above mentioned issues.
For braces treatment, a bracket is affixed to each tooth and connected with a wire, which is secured in the back. Brackets on the rear molars have a mechanism attached that allows your orthodontist to tighten the wire.
The wire is held against the bracket with rubber bands called ligatures. The brackets are held to your teeth using a special type of cement.
When you visit your orthodontist throughout the duration of your treatment, your braces are adjusted slightly. Pressure is gradually applied to your teeth through the braces to bring your smile into alignment. You have the option of choosing coloured elastics (rubber bands) to express your style.
The Difference Between Metal Braces & Clear Braces
You are probably familiar with traditional metal braces, as they are the most common type. As the name implies, these braces are made entirely of metal (though they are supported by elastics). Thanks to advancements in orthodontic technology, metal braces have received multiple upgrades, and the brackets used today are much more streamlined than those used in the past.
Now, there’s less risk of a bracket irritating the inside of your lips or cheeks, as brackets have gotten smaller and more comfortable. But, some people are still reluctant to go with metal braces because of their appearance. If you are concerned about others noticing your braces, you could consider 'clear' alternatives.
Clear braces are not actually transparent. Instead, the brackets are made of tooth-coloured ceramic, allowing them to blend in better with your smile.
Beware: While clear braces are a compromise between metal braces and clear aligners in terms of appearance, they are actually larger in size, and more brittle, than traditional metal braces are. They also tend to be a bit more expensive that metal braces, and are therefore often only used on upper front (most visible) teeth to save on costs.
Option 3: Clear Aligners
Clear aligners such as Invisalign are transparent, removable orthodontic appliances that are custom-made to fit your smile.
Made of clear plastic material, they are lower profile than braces and do not come with metal brackets or wires. The casual observer will be hard-pressed to see them on your teeth.
What about cost?
For people who aren’t candidates for clear aligners, clear braces may be a good compromise. Clear braces also typically fall in the middle of the spectrum in terms of cost, depending on your treatment requirements.
Metal braces are usually the most economical option, with clear aligners coming in just above the average cost of braces. Of course, cost will depend on the nature of your orthodontic problem, the duration of your treatment, and other factors.