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Understanding the Different Types of Braces

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In years past, you had one option for straightening your teeth and that was it: bulky metal brackets and wires.

Few kids were lucky enough to have straight teeth that let them avoid that iconic “brace face” look.

But now there are so many more types of braces you can choose from. In fact, you might even be overwhelmed by the variety of options you now have to get the smile of your dreams.

If you’re in search of the best teeth adult braces method (or kid’s), how do you know which types of braces are right for you?

'Or perhaps even more importantly, how do you choose the right types of braces for your kids?'

In this article, we’ll discuss why there are so many different kinds of braces and then review the four main categories of braces available to choose from today.

Why So Many Different Types of Braces?

Teeth are stronger than bone. So when they shift position, the pressure against the weaker bone tissue causes it to dissolve. This lets the tooth slowly move through the bone. The bone tissue automatically heals and fills up the space where the tooth used to be.

Braces take advantage of this natural body process by putting pressure on the teeth and slowly guiding them into optimum alignment.

Orthodontic therapy is the practice of straightening teeth. All orthodontic treatments do the same exact thing: put pressure on your teeth in a specific direction to gently push and pull them into proper alignment.

Why are there different types of braces if they all do the same thing?

Comfort of the treatment, the braces cost, and the aesthetics are all factors that come into play. Some kinds of braces are different from others because they work faster or are less visible. And some types of braces are simply more effective than others in certain situations.

So it ultimately comes down to your personal preference and individual treatment needs.

One thing almost all braces have in common is the diagnostic process. To get braces, you’ll start by visiting a dentist or orthodontist for a consultation. You’ll have an exam, and then the dentist will take x-rays, photos, scans, or even impressions of your teeth. This process helps your treatment provider determine which types of braces will help you get the best results.

Let’s dive right in, then, and talk about the most popular types of braces.

Types of Braces: Metal Brackets

Classic metal braces aren’t going away any time soon. They’re still a very reliable method of straightening teeth and there’s lots of room for adapting this treatment to meet anybody’s orthodontic needs.

In this traditional treatment, metal brackets are cemented onto the front of teeth. A wire is run across these brackets and tightened to put pressure on the teeth and move them into place. While the wire does all the work, the brackets help hold it snug against the teeth.

There are usually other components of metal brackets depending on the need. For example, there are usually small elastic ties that fasten over the brackets to keep the wire from slipping. In more complex cases, there may also be orthodontic rubber bands or even springs to help pull teeth down or up into an even bite line.

Some patients even need headgear with their metal brackets!

How much do metal brackets cost?

Metal brackets don’t all cost the same, but most treatments in the United States cost an average of $3,000 to $6,000. As a rule of thumb, the longer it takes your teeth to move with metal braces, the more your treatment will cost. An orthodontist can assess the complexity of your case, give you an estimate of the time it’ll take to straighten your teeth, and then tell you how much it would cost. Very complex cases can cost upwards of $10,000, but this isn’t normal for regular metal braces.

Are metal braces right for you?

metal braces

Metal brackets are often the most basic option that works for just about anyone. They are all-purpose and work well for patients of all ages. Metal braces can suit any level of orthodontic complexity and they’re easy to find anywhere in the world. They’re also usually the most economical option for straightening your teeth. But metal brackets do have some downsides to consider:

Types of Braces: Clear Braces

“Clear braces” is another name for removable plastic aligners, also called invisible aligners. While you won’t find traditional braces that are actually invisible, there are clear orthodontic appliances that can straighten your teeth without any visible metal parts.

Orthodontic aligner trays are made with clear plastic and they’re custom-fitted to your teeth. Each tray is meant to be a bit tight and uncomfortable, first. As your teeth shift in response to the pressure from the tray, it will feel looser. This process usually takes two or more weeks. Once your current tray feels loose, your dentist will provide you with the next tray in the series which will also feel snug in the beginning. You’ll go through several trays this way over the course of many months until your teeth gradually shift into the right positions.

clear braces
types of braces clear braces

These trays are supposed to be worn almost constantly. You only take them out to clean them, brush and floss your teeth, and eat or drink.

How much do clear braces cost?

Clear braces can cost roughly the same as regular braces and often much more. It usually depends on the brand, where you get the treatment, who your provider is, how much experience they have with the clear type of braces, and how long your treatment takes.

The most popular brand of clear braces, Invisalign, costs anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 (you can check our Invisalign Review for more info). However, there are even cheaper options out there such as the direct-to-customer companies like Smile Direct Club, Candid, and the best value-for-price brand, Byte. These companies cut costs by eliminating the regular appointments with an orthodontist and ship your trays directly to you. These companies offer clear braces treatment that cost less than $2,000.

Are clear braces right for you?

Clear braces or aligners may be a good fit if you want to straighten your teeth but don’t want to wear anything others will notice. You may have a job that requires you to maintain the same professional image and getting metal braces could seriously detract from that. Or perhaps you just don’t want to go around looking like a teenager!

Clear braces are also ideal if you want to keep your teeth metal-free for other reasons. If you anticipate needing some dental treatment like fillings or teeth whitening, for example, it’ll be easier to have done if you wear a removable orthodontic tray instead of metal braces that are stuck to your teeth. Also, these clear removable trays allow you to eat whatever you want and brush and floss without having to work around annoying metal brackets.

Whatever your motivation may be, clear braces could be a great choice for you. To make a success of your treatment with this type of braces, however, you must be prepared to take good care of your clear aligners trays. They can be expensive to replace, and misplacing them or forgetting to wear them consistently will only make your treatment take up more time and money.

You will need to have your teeth checked by an orthodontist to find out whether clear braces are right for you since they can’t fix complex cases the way regular braces can.

Types of Braces: Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces do pretty much the same thing as regular metal brackets do. The main difference, of course, is that in this type of braces the brackets are made of ceramic. The wires are also made of tooth-colored material.

How much do ceramic braces cost?

Ceramic braces cost a little more than metal braces and average around $4,000 to $8,000 depending on the length of treatment.

Are ceramic braces right for you?

You might be interested in ceramic braces if your teeth don’t qualify for clear braces but you still want a low-visibility treatment option. Ceramic braces aren’t readily noticeable since they blend right in with your teeth.
ceramic braces

There are some drawbacks to ceramic braces, however. For one thing, they can be just as uncomfortable as the metal ones and they also limit your food options. On top of that, ceramic braces tend to be a bit more expensive than the classic metal type because of the materials used. And lastly, the ceramic brackets are prone to picking up pigments from the foods you eat and becoming stained, which could defeat the purpose of choosing the low-visibility brackets.

Types of Braces: Lingual Braces

In dentistry, the word “lingual” means “towards or pertaining to the tongue.” So lingual braces are a kind that are fastened to the insides of your teeth next to your tongue. This technique allows you to wear regular brace but have them completely hidden from view.

How much do lingual braces cost?

Lingual braces usually take longer to place and longer to move your teeth. And when it comes to orthodontics, time is money, so you can expect to pay a good deal more for lingual braces than for the regular type. You might pay anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 to have braces put on the insides of your teeth.

Are lingual braces right for you?

Lingual braces are a good type to consider if looks are important to you and you don’t like the way regular braces look.

But out of all the different types of braces, lingual braces might be the most uncomfortable. You’d probably have an extra hard time brushing and flossing around the brackets if they’re stuck to the insides of your teeth. Having the bulky metal brackets and wires near your tongue could make eating and speaking a little challenging.

Lingual braces are not usually recommended for kids since they are difficult to place in small mouths, make brushing even more difficult, and can even cause tongue irritation. But they can be a fantastic low-visibility orthodontic option for anyone else who’s up to the challenge!

lingual braces
types of braces lingual braces

Choosing the Right Types of Braces for You and Your Family

Now that you’ve covered the basics about the different types of braces, you probably have an idea of which kind you’re interested in.

Get started by scheduling an orthodontic consultation. A professional evaluation will help you know for sure which type of braces is best for your smile. Alternatively, check out one of the companies that offer clear aligners to find out if you qualify.

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