Comparing different types of braces for adults, teens, and children there are 4 main types of braces available today:
- Metal braces
- Ceramic braces
- Self-ligating braces
- Clear aligners like Invisalign
Metal or traditional braces are the most common type of braces world-wide and have been around for over 100 years now. In the past, braces were very bulky and noticeable. Luckily, braces today are nothing like what they were 100 years ago. Advances in innovation and technology have made braces:
- More Comfortable
- More Effective
Metal braces are most popular among children and adolescent patients. They work by applying the braces to the teeth and connecting them with a wire. The wire is tied to the braces using elastic ties, which come in an array colors to choose from. To move the teeth, the orthodontist makes adjustments to the wire at your appointments every 4-8 weeks.
Unlike clear aligners which are removable, some parents and patients love metal braces because they do not need to remind their child to wear them. However, metal braces require care and attention and good oral hygiene is a must throughout treatment.
Ceramic braces are braces made of clear, tooth colored material. They work in the same way as metal braces, but are more discreet and less visible. Ceramic braces are most popular among patients who do not think clear aligner or lingual braces are right for them, but who still want to straighten their teeth in a discreet and affordable way. These patients tend to be esthetically-driven adolescents and adults.
Compared to metal braces, ceramic braces are less noticeable and present an affordable alternative to metal braces. You should know, however, that these braces are also slightly larger than metal braces and can stain depending diet and brushing habits.
Self-ligating braces work similarly to metal and ceramic braces and are available in metal or clear/ceramic material. They too rely on braces and a wire to move the teeth. The difference between self-ligating braces compared to metal or ceramic braces is that self-ligating braces use doors or clips to hold the wire in place, rather than elastic rubber ties.
Because of how easy they are to adjust, they are therefore a good choice for:
- Patients who are more sensitive to discomfort
- Patients who cannot sit still in the dental chair for very long
- Patients with developmental delays and orthodontic need.
Clear aligners have seen a surge in popularity in the last decade. It is clear why clear aligners are so popular right now:
- Clear and transparent
- Allow for easier brushing and flossing
- Faster than braces for some limited treatments
- Require less appointments in some cases
- Shorter appointments are sometimes possible
Clear aligners are great for patients who had braces when they were younger and just need a “touch up,” as well as for patients who have mild to moderate dental problems like misaligned teeth, large overbite, no jaw alignment problems, and who have gaps in their front teeth (open bite). But any clear aligner system has significant limitations compared to braces when addressing difficult problems or comprehensive treatments.
For more complex problems, lingual braces behind the teeth or a combination of clear aligners and lingual braces can offer a unique and esthetic treatment solution. We can provide you with more personalized information at your free initial examination.