Having braces doesn't necessarily mean wearing highly noticeable metal brackets and wires. In fact, some of today's braces are made from natural tooth colored materials such as ceramic to provide patients with an attractive, less noticeable alternative to traditional silver metal braces.
What is the difference between clear braces and clear aligners?
Clear braces are actual brackets that are bonded to the teeth just like traditional silver metal braces except that they are made of tooth colored ceramic material rather than stainless steel. Clear braces are a less noticeable alternative to traditional metal braces for patients who want or need to wear braces but want the most esthetic braces option available.
Clear aligners are different from clear braces. Clear aligners are pieces of hard plastic that are designed to fit into your mouth like a mouthguard. Clear aligner therapy (such as Invisalign) is the most esthetic orthodontic option of all but it does require very dedicated patient cooperation.
What are the advantages and disadvantages to clear braces?
As with any orthodontic treatment, it is important to choose the right option for your needs and lifestyle. Clear braces can be a good alternative to traditional metal braces and your orthodontist will help you determine whether they are the right treatment for you.
Advantages to clear braces:
- Appearance: Ceramic braces are much less noticeable than traditional metal braces. Ceramic braces offer an esthetic alternative for patients seeking options other than traditional metal braces.
- Confidence: Many patients who choose clear braces feel more confident about their orthodontic treatment, especially knowing that people are focusing on their smiles rather than their braces.
Disadvantages to clear braces:
- Cost: Ceramic braces usually cost a bit more than traditional metal braces.
- Discoloration: The clear elastic ties used with ceramic braces may become discolored when you drink tea, coffee, or wine, and eat certain foods or smoke. Ask your orthodontist about how you can keep your braces looking their best.
- Treatment Time: Orthodontic treatment with ceramic braces will likely take a bit longer than with traditional metal braces. This is due to the fact the metal braces are able to slide on the wires easier with less friction than ceramic braces.
- Breakage: Because ceramic material is brittle, clear braces are more likely to break or chip than metal ones.
- Potential for tooth wear: Because ceramic brackets are more abrasive than metal ones, biting on ceramic braces can cause excess wear on the opposing teeth. For this reason, we still often do metal braces on lower teeth even when we do clear braces on top.
Are clear ceramic braces the right choice for you?
If you have chosen to wear braces and you definitely want the most esthetic braces option available, then ceramic braces will likely be the right choice for you. However, you may also want to consider using Iconix braces instead as this option can actually rival the esthetics of ceramic brackets while, at the same time, avoid many of the disadvantages associated with ceramic braces.