Even if you haven’t had braces personally, you’ve probably met someone who has. Braces are one of the most common orthodontic treatments available, and they’ve been around for generations now, with millions of people undergoing treatment every year. And while the majority of patients who get braces are children, the number of adults with braces has grown over the past 20 to 30 years—with an estimated 25% of new patients being adults.
However, there are a few things to consider before seeking treatment, and with several different types of braces available, it’s important to understand the differences when trying to decide which one might be right for you.
Major Types of Braces
Essentially, all types of braces are simply devices worn on the teeth that pull them into alignment over time. Teeth are held in place by muscles and ligaments, and when exposed to constant pressure over time, these muscles and ligaments respond by moving the teeth into better alignment, fixing issues like a misaligned bite, crooked or rotated teeth, gaps or space between the teeth, etc.
Different types of braces all perform this basic function, but have different levels of visibility and are made of different materials—influencing both their price and effectiveness for certain orthodontic issues. The best braces for you might come down to a mix of effectiveness, appearance, and price.
Standard metal braces are the original tooth-alignment device, but modern metal braces are smaller and less intrusive than parents might remember from their own childhood. Metal braces use metal brackets that are cemented to the teeth and then connected by a metal wire which pulls teeth into alignment, usually over the course of 18-24 months.
Ceramic braces use the same principle as metal braces, except the brackets are made of a clear ceramic material, making them less noticeable. Ceramic braces can be slightly more expensive than metal braces for this reason but work generally just as quickly.
In traditional metal braces, the archwire is connected to the brackets with small rubber bands. These can trap small food particles during treatment and can be tricky to effectively clean. With self-ligating braces, the archwire is connected to the brackets with either a spring clip or sliding mechanism, making them easier to clean at home and quicker for your orthodontist to adjust at periodic checkups.
Lingual braces can consist of either a single metal band or a traditional bracket and wire system, only attached to the back of the teeth instead of the front. This makes them almost entirely invisible; however, they tend to be the most expensive treatment.
Advantages And Disadvantages of Braces
The advantages of braces for teeth are clear and well-established in modern orthodontics. Certain dental issues like under, over, or crossbite (where the teeth do not fully fit together when the jaw is closed) can lead to a range of health complications such as eating and chewing difficulties, headaches, tooth decay, chronic mouth breathing, speech issues, halitosis, and sleep apnea. While the severity of these issues is dependent on the extent of the problem, braces remain the only treatment option available and come with minimal to no side effects or lasting issues.
The disadvantages of braces are almost all temporary and more functional. Braces can be uncomfortable at times, especially after first being installed and after subsequent tightenings. They also require strict cleaning and maintenance as trapped food particles can gather around the teeth and cause decay or other problems. They can also present a hazard to children playing sports or other physical activity, as accidental trauma to the mouth while wearing braces can result in serious cuts or other abrasions to the soft tissues inside the mouth. It is recommended that children always wear a mouthguard while performing a physical activity with braces.
Clear Aligners Like Invisalign
If you’re unsure about committing to braces, there are alternative smile straightening treatments like Invisalign or other clear aligners. The biggest difference between clear aligners like Invisalign vs braces is that aligners forego the use of brackets and wires altogether. Instead, your orthodontist will make a mold of your mouth and teeth to create a series of clear, plastic aligners that slip over your teeth and pull them into alignment. Aligners only work while they’re being worn, but they allow the patient to take them off at will for cleaning or eating. They are comfortable and also almost entirely invisible, making them an ideal solution for self-conscious or otherwise braces-averse patients.
When Is the Best Age to Get Braces?
There’s a misconception that only certain age groups can get braces or certain types of braces only work for children—this isn’t true! While there is some data to suggest that braces work faster in children due to the malleability of the ligaments holding their teeth in place, all types of braces work just as effectively for adults. So, if you want straighter teeth and are considering getting braces, the best age to start is right now!
How Long Does It Take to Get Braces?
The process for getting braces is straightforward. If you’re looking for braces in Nevada, start by consulting your regular dentist about your case and ask for a referral to a qualified orthodontist. After an initial consultation, your orthodontist will describe some of the types of braces best suited to your specific dental needs as they pertain to your preference, price range, and insurance. Once you’ve decided on which treatment is best, there will be an initial appointment where your orthodontist will take measurements of your bite and mouth shape, and then a follow-up appointment where they will install your braces. Different types of braces will have different installation periods, and some orthodontists may even be able to perform their measurements and the installation in one sitting.
Braces come in different forms, materials, mechanisms, and price points—but they all perform the same job. Namely, getting you the straight, beautiful, healthy smile you’ve always wanted! If you’re interested in what braces can do for you, start by seeing the best orthodontic dentist in Sparks and Southwest Reno, NV. Elevated Orthodontic has years of experience in teeth-straightening treatments, and our team of professionals will ensure you have the best braces for your specific case. Call today to make an appointment!