A healthy, functional, and attractive smile requires teeth that are straight and jaws that are well aligned. A good bite with teeth that are straight not only looks good, it contributes to overall oral health and well-being.
Braces are orthodontic devices that are used to address problems such as crooked, gapped, or crowded teeth; overbites or underbites; and improper jaw relationships. With advances in orthodontic technology and systems of care, a wide selection of braces is available today. It’s easier to use these options because they don’t have to be as bulky, noticeable, or uncomfortable as older types of braces.
The type of braces the dentist recommends for a patient’s case depends on several factors, including:
- The seriousness of the bite issues.
- The degree of crowding or spacing of the teeth.
- If there is a need for extractions.
- The relationship between the upper and lower jaws and whether a surgical correction is also required.
- How long do the braces need to be worn to achieve the best outcome of care.
- If any supplementary appliances are needed to support orthodontic correction.
- A patient’s cosmetic concerns.
The most common type of braces worn today remains “metal braces”. Made of high-grade stainless steel, these braces are significantly smaller and have a lower profile than their predecessors from years ago. Each brace, which is known as an orthodontic bracket, is individually bonded to the front of each tooth. Metal braces allow for efficient and highly controllable tooth movement.
When conventional braces offer the best approach to care but a more cosmetic appearance is desired, ceramic braces provide an excellent alternative to traditional metal brackets. Ceramic braces, or clear braces, blend in with the natural color of your teeth, making it less obvious to others that you are wearing orthodontic appliances. While being far less visible, they still function in very much the same way as metal braces.
Today, there are even metal braces that can be placed on the “tongue side” or lingual of every tooth, so that they are in effect completely hidden from the outside world. These braces work in the same way as the metal or ceramic braces affixed to the front of the teeth, but can be more uncomfortable and more difficult to keep clean due to where they are located.
One of the most recent options in orthodontic treatment that has provided a more discreet, convenient, and comfortable method of care is a custom sequence of removable clear aligners that gradually move the teeth into their correct positions.