Typically when people think of braces, they visualize clunky metal brackets with a lot of wires and bands. But braces have come a long way and patients have more choices than ever before. So, what types of braces do orthodontists use now? Is there a better alternative? Finding the answers can help you start your orthodontic journey the right way.
Common Types of Braces
Braces have been a standard part of orthodontic treatment for over a century. Today, the three most common types of braces are:
With traditional metal braces, metal brackets are affixed to your teeth with dental glue and wires are attached to the brackets. The wire exerts constant pressure on your teeth to gradually move them into healthy alignment. As your teeth shift position, your orthodontist will adjust the wires to keep the movement going.
- Effective: Traditional metal braces can be used to address mild, moderate, and severe alignment issues.
- Durable: Metal braces are extremely strong and can hold up against daily wear. However, you may need to avoid certain foods to maintain this durability.
- Consistent: With metal braces, there is never a break in your treatment. Because patients can’t remove them, there’s little you can do to interfere with your progress.
- Hygiene challenges: Metal braces can make it more difficult to brush and floss your teeth, which can lead to discoloration, cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems.
- Risk of cavities: Even if you maintain excellent hygiene practices, metal braces can still increase your risk of cavities because they trap food particles in your mouth.
- Potential for damage: With metal branches, it’s easy to break off rackets and delay treatment.
- Discomfort: Metal braces can cause cuts, scrapes, and other trauma inside your cheek.
- Frequent office visits: On average, metal braces have to be tightened every 4-6 weeks. This process can be uncomfortable and cause soreness that lasts for several days.
- Food limitations: You should avoid sticky, chewy, crunchy, and hard foods that can damage your braces or pull off a bracket. You may also want to avoid foods that can easily become trapped in your braces and foods you have to bite into, such as apples, corn on the cob, and carrots.
- Eating limitations: Metal braces don’t just limit what you eat, they also limit how you eat. To avoid damaging your braces, you must cut everything you eat and avoid biting into foods.
Ceramic braces, also known as clear braces, use clear or tooth-colored brackets instead of the traditional metal versions. While they function in the same way as metal braces, they are less noticeable to others, especially if you choose tooth-colored wires that blend in with your teeth. Some patients also find them more comfortable due to the smaller, more rounded brackets. However, they are less durable than metal braces, which means brackets are more easily damaged.
Lingual braces are metal braces placed on the inside of your teeth, which means they are very discrete and usually unnoticeable to others. They have many of the same pros and cons as traditional metal braces, but many find them very uncomfortable. They cause some patients to develop a temporary lisp and cause many more to develop mouth and tongue sores. Treatment also typically takes longer and costs more.
An Innovative Alternative to Braces
While there are more types of braces available than ever before, it’s also possible to forego braces altogether. If you’re looking for a truly discreet, comfortable alternative to braces, Invisalign could be an ideal solution.
Invisalign uses a series of custom-made clear aligners to gradually move your teeth into healthy alignment. These aligners are created based on a 3D digital scan of your mouth, and each aligner set is worn for about 2 weeks.
- Aesthetics: Invisalign is barely detectable to others.
- Comfort: Patients typically find Invisalign much more comfortable than braces.
- Flexibility: Aligners can be removed before eating, brushing, and flossing. This means you can eat whatever you want, don’t have to change your diet, and it’s easy to maintain your oral hygiene routine.
- Convenience: With Invisalign, you don’t have to visit your orthodontist every few weeks for adjustments. Typically, your orthodontist will check your progress every few months and give you your next set of aligners. But that doesn’t mean less oversight. At BHO, we use an AI-powered app to track your tooth movement throughout treatment to ensure you are on track for the best outcome.
- Versatility: In the past, Invisalign treatment was only available for people with mild to moderate alignment issues. That often remains true if you seek Invisalign treatment from a general or cosmetic dentist. But today, experienced orthodontists can use Invisalign to address even severe alignment problems.
- Length of Treatment: Invisalign treatment is often faster than traditional braces, especially when paired with accelerated orthodontic devices.
- Patient Commitment: You have to wear your aligners for at least 22 hours a day to get the results you want.
Considering the advantages of clear aligner treatment, it’s no wonder that both teens and adults are increasingly choosing Invisalign over braces.
Get the Smile You Deserve
At Beverly Hills Orthodontics, we offer truly personalized treatment to create outstanding experiences and outcomes. As a VIP Diamond Plus provider, we’re one of the top Invisalign experts in the country and have helped thousands of patients transform their smiles quickly and comfortably. But our expertise goes far beyond Invisalign. No matter what your needs are or what types of braces you’re interested in, we use the most advanced orthodontic methods and technologies to help you look and feel your best.