Orthodontic treatment, also known as braces, is common in the teenage years to correct crooked teeth and other jaw problems early.
Many of us remember wearing metal braces, going to the orthodontist once a month to have them tightened, and the constant challenge of flossing, brushing, and keeping them clean.
Today there are several new types of braces that offer an alternative to traditional braces. One type of brace, known as lingual braces, are even placed on the backside of the teeth, rather than on the front, making them less noticeable.
Read on for 5 newer types of braces to consider for yourself.
Lingual braces are braces behind teeth. They mimic traditional braces but are less visible to someone looking at you. Lingual braces are well-concealed behind your teeth, so you only notice them when your mouth is open wide.
Lingual braces can correct most of the same tooth and bite problems addressed by traditional braces, including:
- Crowded teeth, or too much space between teeth
- Open bite, that is, too much space between upper and lower teeth
- Overbite (upper jaw too far out) or an underbite (lower jaw too far out)
But be aware that a severe bite issue, such as an extended overbite will not respond well to lingual braces. In severe cases, traditional braces are a better fit.
Certain brands of lingual braces can be crafted to fit the particular shape of one’s mouth. A custom-fit via lingual braces can shorten your treatment time, but lingual braces are more expensive than other newer types.
Traditional Metal Braces Updated
Today’s “traditional” metal braces are smaller and less noticeable than the heavy, thick metal braces of the past.
An innovation to metal braces is heat-activated arch wires that use the heat of your mouth to help teeth move quickly and with ease. This allows for less treatment time and less pain while teeth move.
You can “personalize” traditional metal braces as well, with the addition of multi-colored bands, helping wearers style their own “look”.
Traditional metal braces are the least expensive of the different types of braces.
A new twist on metal braces, self-ligating braces do not have elastic ligatures. Instead, self-ligating braces have a door mechanism that opens and closes to hold the tooth-aligning wires. Teeth move faster with these braces because the braces can slide along the wire.
Self-ligating braces provide much less discomfort when teeth move since lighter force is used due to a lack of friction between the wire and brace.
Elastic ties wear out and fade with time, but since metal ties do not, the interval between adjustment appointments is much longer. Self-ligating braces are easier on your teeth and time.
For those who dislike the sight of metal on teeth, ceramic braces come in clear or white shades, right down to the wires, so that, while still visible up-close, they blend in very well with your teeth.
Ceramic braces are more comfortable than those made of metal and move teeth along in less time than aligner trays. Despite a sheer appearance, this type of braces is very durable, and cost-effective, being slightly higher in price than traditional braces.
To keep ceramic braces from staining or fading, you must keep them clean and brush often.
Ceramic braces are made for those for whom lingual braces are not an option, but who are very concerned with their appearance, and feel that metal braces negatively impact their lifestyle.
Aligner Trays (Invisalign)
Aligner trays, also known by their trade name, Invisalign or EZ Smile Clear Aligners, are clear, plastic trays that fit over the teeth like a nightguard. They are removable, and you replace each tray with a new one every two weeks until you use the entire series of trays (usually between 18 and 30).
Aligner trays are virtually invisible and easy to use. But they take longer to move teeth than any of the types of braces mentioned thus far. Because they are removable, they are easy to lose or misplace, and they must be cleaned well.
Invisalign trays are only made for teens and adults (not young children) and can be expensive since they take longer to achieve their goal. They cannot be used when extensive jaw or tooth problems exist. But for the older wearer in need of minimal treatment, they are a good option.
Which Type of Braces is Best for Me?
Your dentist and orthodontist will need to take impressions of your teeth to map out your treatment and will discuss with you the best type of braces for you.
You should consult your dental insurer to find out if they cover any part of your orthodontic treatment, and which types of braces are covered.
Other things to consider when making a braces decision include cost, your willingness to keep your teeth clean, as well as your commitment to keeping any removable appliances in your mouth for as long as 22 hours a day.
What to Expect With Braces
It takes about 2 hours to fit braces to teeth and no anesthesia is needed since there is little pain involved. There are preparatory steps that need to be taken before a certain type of braces are fitted, and these steps vary, depending on what braces you will be wearing.
After your braces are fitted, you will notice some discomfort on your teeth for a short time. Over-the-counter pain relievers usually take care of this initial pain. Eating soft foods for the first couple of days will help as you adjust.
Brushing and flossing will be more complicated, and a Waterpik utensil is a must while wearing braces. Keeping your new braces clean and particle-free is a task you have to assume throughout your treatment, so your teeth remain healthy.
A New Smile is Your Reward
No matter what type of braces you and your dentist choose, you will have a brand new and improved smile at the end of your treatment, which will make any discomfort or inconvenience a worthwhile cost!
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