Types of Orthodontic Braces
Very few of us are blessed with perfectly straight teeth and aligned bites, yet gaps in our smiles and problems with our bite can leave us open to a range of dental and even general health hazards.
From increased risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease, to tooth loss, widespread infection and health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease that have been shown to be linked to poor oral health, there are many reasons why dentists have recommended addressing the positioning of our teeth and bite.
For a long time, orthodontic braces have been the primary treatment choice for people suffering from such problems. This highly successful treatment involves wearing a device that is attached to the teeth, which gradually propels them into the desired position. In the past, orthodontic braces have had something of a poor reputation, renowned for being large, metal contraptions that look unsightly, feel uncomfortable and severely limit the foods and activities that you can enjoy.
Thankfully, the design of orthodontic braces has evolved dramatically during the last few decades, and now there are many different types available. In fact, the newer styles of braces are so improved that many adults who initially refused to wear orthodontic braces in their younger years are now happily opting for this important dental process.
If you have been recommended for orthodontic braces, you most certainly are not alone. It is estimated that almost 4 million Americans currently wear some style of orthodontic brace, which will eventually help them to enjoy a healthier and more beautiful smile.
What Types of Orthodontic Braces are available?
If you or your child require the use of an orthodontic braces, our dentist or orthodontist will be happy to talk through the varieties available with you in more detail. This is particularly important as not all types of orthodontic braces is suitable for every patient. However, in general there are 4 key types of orthodontic braces available to patients in the United States.
Conventional metal braces
When people think of braces, they almost always conjure up an image of the conventional metal variety. These are made from stainless steel and are attached to your teeth using a special adhesive, where wires and brackets then work to propel them into the desired position. Conventional braces need to be adjusted regularly in order for the teeth to follow the projected pathway.
This type of orthodontic braces is arguably the most restrictive in that they look the most obvious and unsightly, they can make certain physical activities difficult to participate in, and our orthodontist will almost certainly recommend that you avoid certain foods, including items that are particularly chewy or sticky.
These look and work in an identical manner to conventional metal braces, and have many of the same limitations, but instead of dark, obvious metal, they made of tooth-colored or clear ceramic. This makes them blend more naturally into your teeth and appear much less obvious. It may even be possible for our orthodontist to arrange tooth-colored wires, offering you the ultimate in discretion.
Lingual braces are a popular alternative to conventional metal braces. Although the same materials are used, the braces are secured to the inside of your teeth where they are much less obvious to observers.
Invisalign is a revolutionary new orthodontic treatment that uses a series of custom-designed plastic, BPA-free liners that sit over the top of your teeth, directing them through the treatment pathway and to their final, desired position. Each liner is used in order, with each worn for approximately two weeks and for around 22 hours each day, which is necessary for the treatment to progress accurately and at the appropriate pace.
These clear, removable aligners give patients an unrivalled level of discretion and increased flexibility, making them one of the most popular orthodontic treatments available.
Although they look similar to some styles of orthodontic braces, retainers don’t actually perform the same function. Instead, they are used by patients after they have finished their orthodontic treatment program. Their purpose is to hold – or retain – the teeth in their new position, preventing them from moving back. There are two types of retainer available. A fixed retainer is a thin, stainless steel wire that is permanently attached behind your front teeth, while a removable retainer looks very similar to a transparent mouth guard and fits snugly over your teeth, holding them in place. Our orthodontist will be happy to discuss which retainer is right for you at the end of your treatment program.
For further advice about the types of orthodontic treatment available, contact us and make an appointment with our dentist or orthodontist.