The days of heavy, uncomfortable metal braces – and the self-consciousness that usually accompanies them – are over. A number of recent dental and orthodontic advances, along with new technologies such as 3-D printing, have made a variety of new types of braces available for both youngsters and adult dental patients. Some of the options a patient can choose today are so advanced, in fact, that you may forget that you are even wearing braces. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular options for braces?
1. CONVENTIONAL BRACES
In the old days – the 20th century – braces were all brackets and wires, unattractive and quite uncomfortable. But even “traditional” or conventional metal braces are far less invasive or obvious to others in the 21st century than braces were in previous eras. Many conventional braces today are smaller and use wires activated by body heat to get results faster and reduce any pain. While conventional braces are still the most cost-effective option today – and colored bands are available for the kids – they are also still the most noticeable braces, and a few patients may still find them somewhat uncomfortable.
2. CERAMIC BRACES
Ceramic braces are the same size and shape as metal braces, except that they have tooth-colored or clear brackets that blend visually with the patient’s own teeth. Some ceramic braces even have tooth-colored wires. While ceramic braces may produce results somewhat faster than other types of braces, they are costlier, they can become stained over time, and they require a great deal of work to maintain their clear appearance.
3. LINGUAL BRACES
Lingual braces are the least commonly-used type of braces. Although lingual braces look just like conventional metal braces, they positioned on the inside of the teeth, in other words, facing the tongue. Lingual braces have the primary advantage of being invisible to other persons, but lingual braces are costly, difficult to clean, and for some users, quite uncomfortable over time. Lingual braces are also ineffective in the most extreme cases, and even making routine adjustments to lingual braces can be a difficult procedure.
4. CLEAR ALIGNER BRACES
The newest “braces” now available are clear, plastic teeth aligners that resemble a mouth guard. Clear aligner braces are rapidly becoming widely used, particularly by adults. They are marketed and sold under at least five brand names. ClearCorrect is a clear aligner therapy that uses advanced 3-D printing technology to custom-create aligners for every individual patient. ClearCorrect aligners are also virtually invisible, so no one needs to know that you “wear braces.” These aligners are made from clear plastic.
ClearCorrect aligners are easy to remove and to clean. They are custom-fit to each individual patient’s teeth, they are non-invasive, and they are particularly ideal for patients who may be allergic to metal. ClearCorrect aligners can be removed for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing, but otherwise, the aligner is worn all day (twenty hours a day is recommended). ClearCorrect aligners adjust the teeth slowly and incrementally. After wearing an aligner for two weeks, a patient receives the next ClearCorrect aligner for the next phase of the treatment.
The amount of time a patient’s treatment will require can be determined by the dentist and will depend on the current position of the teeth and how far the patient hopes to move them. Patients can wear ClearCorrect plastic aligners with no restrictions on their food and beverage intake – a big advantage. The only downsides are that ClearCorrect aligners are not right for all orthodontics patients, and they are only for teens and adults – not for children. Results may also take slightly longer with ClearCorrect aligners than with conventional metal braces.
HOW DOES CLEAR ALIGNER THERAPY BEGIN?
Clear aligner therapy begins with taking x-rays and photographs of the teeth, a bite registration, and polyvinyl siloxane impressions of a patient’s teeth and gums. The dentist or orthodontist then conducts a written evaluation that includes a diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment plan. The impressions of the teeth and gums are then scanned to create a digital 3-D model of the patient’s teeth. Depending on the patient, from six to forty-eight aligners may eventually be needed. Each aligner moves the teeth from 0.25 millimeters to 0.33 millimeters.
A computerized graphic representation of the projected teeth movement is then provided to the dentist and to the patient for approval or changes before the aligners are manufactured. The aligners are modeled using CAD-CAM software, and they are manufactured with a prototyping technique called stereolithography. The molds for the aligners are built in layers using a liquid resin that becomes a hard plastic when exposed to a laser. The aligners are made from a thermoplastic material that pressures teeth to move to the aligner’s position. Reproximation (filing or drilling) is sometimes required at the contact points between teeth to create a better fit.
Each ClearCorrect aligner is intended to be worn twenty hours a day for two weeks. The average patient requires 13.5 months for the treatment to be completed, although treatment timeframes can vary depending on the extent of the desired teeth movements. Once the treatment period has concluded, the dentist may recommend that the patient continue wearing a retainer at night for a period of time.
For children as well as for adults, the answer to “What type of braces are best for me?” will entirely depend on the individual patient’s budget and on that patient’s needs. In Southern California, speak with an experienced San Diego dentist or orthodontist to discuss your options. Your dentist or orthodontist can help you to get a better understanding of your several alternatives and what will work best for you.
ClearCorrect was founded in 2006. It is a Texas-based company, and its products are manufactured entirely in the United States. In 2011, ClearCorrect was named the fastest-growing health company in the U.S. by Inc. magazine. Most patients love the product because it is not only discreet, but it also produces dramatic results. It is the newest and most effective alternative to metal and ceramic braces. If you need braces, or if you have had braces previously and you were not satisfied with the results, then ClearCorrect may be right for you. If you need braces, let an experienced San Diego dentist tell you more about ClearCorrect clear aligner therapy.