Metal or traditional braces are the most popular type of orthodontic appliances worldwide, having been around for more than 100 years. Today, parents have far more options when it comes to braces for their children. Orthodontists have developed new treatments to improve the aesthetics of orthodontic appliances, but choosing the right treatment method requires time and careful consideration. Traditional metal braces are made of high quality stainless steel and consist of an arc of wire connected to the tooth supports, providing even pressure to move the teeth in the right direction.
Ceramic braces are an attractive option for many patients, as they use tooth-colored ceramic brackets instead of metal and a white wire, making them virtually invisible. Lingual braces are custom-made braces designed to fit the contour of the inside of each tooth, with a wire attaching the brackets together and placing the teeth in their position by pulling from the inside. They are as effective as standard outer shoulder straps, but take longer to fit and may affect speech in some patients. Invisalign is another option, using a series of personalized plastic trays for two weeks each that slowly move the teeth to the preferred position.
When considering which type of braces to choose, there are a few factors to consider such as cost, hygiene, and the end result. Some patients worry unnecessarily about how they will look with orthodontic appliances, but if this is a concern, lingual or ceramic braces may be a better option as they are virtually undetectable. However, lingual braces may require elastic bands that people can see. Invisalign is practically invisible and more comfortable to wear, but users must be disciplined enough to wear them at least 23 hours a day every day.
Invisalign is not suitable for more complex cases involving an underbite and intense crowding. Ceramic appliances are more comfortable to wear than metal ones due to their non-abrasive materials that don't irritate the gums or sides of the mouth. Metal braces have two basic components: metal brackets applied to the teeth and flexible metal wire threaded through the brackets to apply pressure and move them. New technology has created cables that move teeth faster and with less pain than in previous years.
Many teens also like being able to choose the color of the elastic bands around each support. The final result can be determined by the treatment method chosen. Complex orthodontic cases are best treated with braces, while Invisalign may be used for most of the treatment and completed with fixed braces for refinement of tooth positions.