- Published Date: 13 Nov 2020
- Updated Date: 09 Jul 2021
- Reading Time: 11 min
- What are Clear Braces?
- Ceramic Braces: How do They Work
- Invisible Aligners: How do they Work
- Lingual Braces: How do they Work
- Summing Up
Did you know that more than 28 percent of people do not like to show their smiles when talking or taking pictures to post on social media? Moreover, about 81 percent of people find their teeth to be unattractive and avoid smiling altogether. The main reason you become self-conscious about your smile is when you start comparing yourself to other people with straight teeth that brighten their smile.
Unfortunately, your feelings can cause anxiety and low self-esteem. But the problem does not end there. When your teeth are not in the correct alignment, you are most likely to contract gum disease, tooth decay, chronic headaches, TMJ disorder, and even bad breath. It can also interfere with your chewing, jaw alignment, and digestion. But how do you avoid all these problems?
Fortunately, you can straighten your teeth and rejuvenate your smile with the help of braces. Gone are the days when you had to fill your mouth with unsightly wire and bracket braces. Modern orthodontics has come a long way over the years, and you can now straighten your teeth and still maintain the confidence to flash a smile with clear teeth braces.
Clear braces or invisible braces offer an aesthetic and barely visible alternative to the uncomfortable metal braces. Here is everything you should know about clear braces before you decide to use them for your treatment.
What are Clear Braces?
The term “clear braces” is not necessarily a dental term. But when in use, it mostly refers to either ceramic braces or clear teeth aligners.
Ceramic braces are very similar to the traditional metal braces in their appearance and functionality. The only difference is that their brackets and wires are made of clear plastic. You can still find some ceramic braces that come in a tooth-colored variety. However, they can easily blend into the natural color of your teeth.
Ceramic braces are much preferable to metal braces since they are less noticeable. It is the best option if you do not want to be self-conscious about wearing them. On the other hand, clear teeth aligners have a very different appearance altogether. It involves a series of clear plastic tray aligners that you can wear to straighten your teeth gradually. They are comfortable to wear, practical, and have an aesthetic appeal.
Unlike any other braces, clear teeth aligner trays are removable, allowing you to talk with ease. They are a good alternative if you do not want people to see metal brackets on your mouth every time you smile or talk. The most common type of clear aligner is Invisalign. However, you can still find other brands such as ClearCorrect.
Both types of braces are very effective at straightening teeth. The only difference is their appearance, how they work, their cost, and how they feel when wearing them.
There is a third type of invisible braces that you may want to consider referred to as lingual braces. Though they are not necessarily invisible, they fit the invisible description due to their discreet nature when you wear them. Lingual braces still the traditional metal braces. However, you wear them on the back of the teeth surface instead of the front. You can therefore benefit from the traditional metal braces without the aesthetic drawbacks.
So, how do these different types of braces work?
Ceramic Braces: How do They Work
Ceramic braces use clear brackets, making them less visible than metal braces. You can find some brands with tooth-colored wires that further lower their visibility. By wearing them, you can enjoy your daily life without any anxiety about your appearance.
Since they are more comfortable than metallic braces, you can participate in the activities that you would previously shy away from, such as singing and even smiling in public. It is best to use ceramic braces only when all your teeth are fully grown. This is because they help to speed up your teeth correction and prevent the brackets from breaking due to teeth movement.
Ceramic braces are an excellent option for anyone that wants to reshape their teeth without drawing much attention to themselves. So, whether you attend college or work in a full-time job, you may want to consider using this form of treatment.
How long is the treatment?
Although these braces are made from ceramic, the treatment time is similar to that of metal braces. This means that they can straighten your teeth in about 18 to 36 months. The time will depend on the delays you experience when visiting the orthodontist to replace and fix broken brackets.
When your teeth move, they place more pressure on the brackets, often leading to them breaking. Therefore, they are less durable than metal braces. For this reason, it is advisable that you avoid activities that may cause a lot of mouth movement when wearing ceramic braces.
Choosing the color of your ceramic braces
As you continue your treatment, the color of your braces can vary accordingly. Since the brackets are the parts in direct contact with your teeth, you can find them in white and other skin shades.
Archwires connect the brackets and curve around your teeth, thus, applying pressure to straighten your teeth. You can find them in silver or white. They can also be frosted to match the color of the light-colored brackets. Elastic bands help to keep the archwire in position by attaching to hooks on the brackets. They play a crucial role in controlling the movement of your teeth. The elastic bands come in various colors.
But what benefit do you get from wearing braces with color?
Colored braces may help improve your confidence by showing a fun or fashionable side as you continue your treatment. Your color selection will mainly depend on whether you want to stand out or blend in. Some areas you can consider when choosing the color of your braces include:
- The color of your eyes
- Your skin color
- Bright colors for summer and cool shades for winter
- Matching clothes
- Darker shades for a whiter teeth appearance
- Silver or grey to avoid standing out
Since you have to change your elastics often throughout your treatment, you can try various color combinations. Color braces have numerous benefits, especially for children. If your child dislikes the idea of wearing braces, you can improve their experience by giving them control over the choice of color that they wear.
Can ceramic braces stain?
You should clearly understand that the brackets of your braces do not stain since they are made to be resistant to discoloration. However, the clear elastic bands that hold the wire together can stain easily, making them more visible.
The best way to avoid staining your braces is by being mindful of what you eat. Your braces stain mainly due to deeply colored foods and drinks such as tea, wine, and coffee. The dark pigments in such meals and drinks may stick onto the elastic bands of your braces, causing them to stain.
Moreover, you can take additional measures of brushing and flossing your teeth right after eating and drinking. If you are not able to brush, you should try rinsing your mouth with water after every meal. You want to reduce the amount of time the colored food stays in contact with your braces. Additionally, it would be best to avoid smoking since it can lead to your teeth and braces’ yellowing.
Wearing ceramic braces
Ceramic braces can be quite costly when compared to metal braces. They are also cheaper than both lingual braces and clear teeth aligners. However, it would be best to understand that the price you pay may vary depending on the dentist, location, and the length and complexity of your treatment.
Ceramic braces are easy to install, come in multiple colors but are prone to discoloration due to inadequate maintenance. They can also break when under pressure forcing you to replace them often.
Still, they are a great option if you want your dental treatment to be unnoticeable. Ceramic braces may be less durable than their metallic counterparts, but you will only need to wear them for a little longer to correct your bite.
As you wear ceramic braces, you may be self-conscious at first. But since they do not cause any discomfort, the feeling will slowly subside. Your mouth may feel different as you talk and eat, but you will slowly get used to it. Remember, you need to provide the braces with extra care, such as avoiding certain meals, not participating in certain physical activities, and observing oral hygiene. By doing so, you can increase their durability and decrease your wearing time.
Invisible Aligners: How do they Work
Invisible aligners are quite different from braces in their appearance. While braces use brackets and connecting wires, invisible aligners consist of a series of tight-fitting clear plastic mouthpieces that you can slip over your teeth.
Not everyone can wear invisible aligners. Therefore, you need to first consult with your orthodontist on whether this solution is suitable for you. However, since the aligners are custom made, they are ideal for both young children and adults.
Treating a young child’s teeth is not easy since they are continuously growing. Therefore, braces may not be ideal since the growing teeth’s strain may force them to break. Using an invisible aligner is a good alternative for growing and developing teeth. However, the doctor has to consider all other options before choosing the ideal treatment.
Clear aligners work best for users that have moderate to no crowded teeth. It is also useful for users with teeth spacing issues. You may require a different kind of treatment if your teeth are overcrowded or have overbites, crossbites, and underbites.
If an orthodontist recommends a clear aligner as the best treatment option, they will fit your teeth with various versions until the treatment period is over. Every new aligner you receive will make slight adjustments to your teeth, forcing them to get back to the desired position.
Even though the invisible aligner is custom-made to fit tightly over your teeth, you can remove them anytime you want to eat, brush or floss.
How long is the treatment?
The duration the treatment takes to correct your teeth will mainly depend on how much your teeth need to move or rotate. The more crooked your teeth are, the longer the treatment time. Usually, it takes about 4-6 months to correct your teeth using this treatment. Sometimes, your dentist may recommend using an invisible aligner after using braces for a long time. If so, you may wear them for less than ten weeks.
Invisible aligners work best as refiners to a previous treatment since they are not as precise as braces. Therefore, you may only wear them for a short time. However, it mostly depends on the treatment recommendation that your dentist issues.
Invisible aligners are more expensive than braces. The price may vary depending on the aligner’s brand, location, orthodontist, treatment plan, and whether the treatment is for an adult or child. On average, the aligner braces cost about $5000 to $6000.
How to care for your clear aligners
Invisible aligners are a great option if you want to avoid wearing braces. Since they are clear, people will barely notice that you are undergoing orthodontic treatment. They also make it easier to maintain better oral hygiene since they are removable. You can, therefore, brush and floss your teeth with ease. However, you need to take proper care of your aligners to ensure that they are in their best condition. Here are some of the best ways you can care for your invisible aligners.
- Rinse your aligners once you remove them
There are times when you will have to remove your aligners, like when you’re eating, sleeping, or brushing your teeth. At the same time, ensure that you rinse your aligners. But why is rinsing your aligners important?
Since your mouth is a haven for bacteria, you may impart them to your aligners every time you wear them. As such, you should always rinse your aligners to prevent the bacteria from building up.
- Only rinse with warm water
Your clear plastic aligners are made to fit your teeth. By exposing them to cold or hot temperatures, they are at risk of expanding and contracting. It would be best if you rinsed them only in lukewarm water or a cleaning solution recommended by your orthodontist.
- Brush and floss your teeth before wearing them
Since your teeth contain plenty of bacteria, it is a good idea to brush and floss your teeth before wearing the aligners. When bacteria builds up in your mouth, your breath changes; therefore, you will carry the lousy breath around even after wearing the aligners when you don’t brush your teeth. Moreover, you risk suffering from dental complications due to poor oral hygiene.
- Avoid using toothpaste to clean the aligners
While toothpaste may effectively clean your teeth, it can be damaging to your clear aligners. Since toothpaste is abrasive to plastics, it can make the aligner’s surface rough, making them uncomfortable to wear. Additionally, it can create scratches on the aligner where bacteria can hide. Instead of using toothpaste, you can use a mild mouthwash solution or lukewarm water to clean your aligners.
- Avoid drinking colored drinks
The dye in colored drinks can stain your aligners very easily. Therefore, it would be best to avoid drinking colored drinks when wearing your aligners. Instead, stick to drinking clear liquids such as water. You can also consider removing your aligners before consuming anything and wearing them much later after giving them a good rinse.
Wearing invisible aligners
Clear aligners are minimally invasive and are free from brackets and wires. Since they are removable, they make it easier for you to participate in several physical activities without the danger of breakage. Moreover, they are easy to clean.
Although you may find them uncomfortable during the first few days of wearing them, you will quickly get used to them. Clear plastic aligners offer the best way to straighten teeth at home without the use of braces.
Lingual Braces: How do they Work
Lingual braces are a great orthodontic treatment option for the image-conscious. The orthodontist places the braces behind your teeth on the side of the tongue. They are therefore hidden from view, allowing you to smile comfortably.
Just like traditional metal braces, they consist of brackets and wires. However, they are a bit smaller and can be customized depending on the size of your teeth. Although they are at the backside of the teeth, they work in the same way as other braces. They rely on the interaction between the brackets and wires to pressure the teeth and return them to their ideal positions.
Unfortunately, not everyone can benefit from the help of lingual braces. If you have deep overbites, you may often encounter problems with your lingual braces since the brackets may pop more often. The best way to determine whether wearing lingual braces is the right treatment is by consulting with an orthodontist.
The orthodontist will examine your teeth and advise you on the best treatment options that can work for you. Lingual braces make the best alternative to invisible aligners. Moreover, they are more effective than clear aligners, especially when dealing with more demanding movements such as adjusting the height of teeth, closing spaces, and correcting teeth rotations.
Cost of lingual braces
The cost of lingual braces will mainly depend on your location, brand of braces, and treatment duration. However, it is a more expensive option than traditional braces, ceramic braces, and clear aligners.
The high cost is attributed to the complexity of the procedure. Only highly skilled orthodontists can carry out the treatment. Moreover, it requires using the latest CAD/CAM technology to properly fit the braces according to the contours of your mouth.
Although it may be costly, you do not have to worry about problems such as teeth discoloration and decalcification that may occur with traditional braces.
Can lingual braces cause a lisp?
It is a common condition for your speech patterns to be temporarily affected by the use of braces. Your tongue touches the backside of your teeth when talking to make certain sounds. Lingual braces can interfere with your speech and cause a lisp for some months. However, you can correct the problem through speech therapy. With time, your tongue will become accustomed to your braces, allowing you to return to your usual speech patterns.
Wearing lingual braces
Lingual braces are a good option for anyone who wants to benefit from braces without being evident that you are under treatment.
Since they are attached to the backside of your teeth, they can cause slight discomfort during the first few days. Compared to the other treatment options, the discomfort may last a bit longer. But, with time, you will get used to them.
You must maintain good oral hygiene while wearing lingual braces. Brush your teeth every day to avoid food from collecting at the back of your teeth. Although these braces do not prevent you from eating, it would be best to avoid sticky and sugary foods.
While participating in physical activities, it is advisable to wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth and braces. Expect to experience some pain on your tongue just until you get used to the braces. Depending on your teeth condition, this treatment may take longer to correct your smile.
Wearing braces and aligners can help align your teeth and jaws to give you a pleasing smile and an even bite. For discreet treatment options, you should consider using invisible aligners, clear ceramic braces, and lingual braces.
After any teeth straightening treatment, remember to wear a retainer every night as you sleep. Wearing a retainer will help to keep your teeth in the new position. You can either choose to wear a fixed or removable retainer depending on your preference. Your orthodontist can advise you on the most suitable option to hold your teeth.
While wearing braces, it is also essential to maintain high dental hygiene. Food particles and germs are likely to accumulate in the braces, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. Before choosing a treatment option, consider each type of braces’ pros and cons and the cost implications.