Dental technology is changing quickly and it’s helping to create exciting new choices for braces. Materials have improved, sizes have shrunk, and there are now even options for personalizing. This is great news if you’re considering getting braces for yourself or someone in your family.
If you’ve decided to straighten your smile, there are a few things you should think about before making your final choice. Let’s start with a review of important things to consider when purchasing braces.
Are your teeth slightly crooked or do you have major issues with your teeth? Your orthodontist will be able to recommend which type of braces will work best for you.
The average cost for braces is between $5,000 and $6,0001, but some braces can run as much as $10,000—or more. Some insurance plans offer discounts, so be sure to check your plan details. Many providers offer payment plans, or can direct you to a special credit agency for medical and dental needs.
For adults, the average length of time for braces is 18 months to 3 years2. Typically, metal braces have the shortest wear time, while clear aligners take longer. Traditional braces also require adjusting every 4 – 6 weeks.
Getting braces can make some people feel self-conscious. Certain types of braces are less noticeable than others, but are often more expensive, or take longer to reach the desired outcome.
Now that you know some of the things you should consider, let’s review the different types of braces.
Traditional metal braces are the least expensive, but most noticeable type of braces. Stainless steel brackets are glued to each tooth, and metal alloy arch wires are used to connect the brackets, which gently pull the teeth into proper placement. With regular braces, small rubber bands or ligatures are used to keep the wires attached to the brackets. Self-ligating braces have built-in clips to hold the wires.
Metal braces are the sturdiest, and are usually recommended to help close gaps between teeth. You can personalize their look by opting for brackets shaped like stars or footballs, or adding brightly-colored bands to hold the wires in place.
Every 4 – 6 weeks you will go to your orthodontist to have the wires adjusted, which will slowly move your teeth into proper alignment.
These are the same size and shape as metal braces, but the brackets are made of ceramic material which can be clear or tooth-colored, making them less noticeable. This is why they are sometimes called white braces. Even the wires can be coated in white to help further disguise them. They can be regular braces with bands or self-ligating.
Ceramic braces cost about $1,000 more than metal braces. The treatment time is generally the same as metal braces: 18 months to 3 years, with adjustments every 4 to 6 weeks.
It’s important to note that ceramic brackets can stain, making proper dental care even more important. Also, the wires can lose their white coating over time.
Lingual braces are braces behind the teeth. Their placement makes them the least noticeable, but also the most difficult to adjust and keep clean because they are much harder to reach.
Lingual braces may not be an option if you have an overbite because you could damage the braces while chewing or talking.
Also, these braces take more getting used to, especially because they are in constant contact with your tongue as you eat and speak. They are also the most expensive, due in part to the difficulty placing and adjusting them.
While not exactly invisible braces, clear aligners are one of the less noticeable ways to straighten teeth. The cost is higher than metal or ceramic, but less than lingual braces.
A series of 20 – 30 plastic mouthpieces are made from a mold of your teeth. You wear each set for 2 weeks, and over time, they help move your teeth into proper position. They should be removed when eating or drinking to help them stay clean and stain-free.
Aligners aren’t used for serious dental problems or with children. They're generally applied in less severe cases.
The disadvantages of aligners include a longer treatment time and they can be lost.
Now that you know what to consider when choosing braces, it’s time to make an appointment with an orthodontist. Don’t have an orthodontist? Ask your dentist for a referral or check this article for some types on how to choose a dental provider.
With a specialist’s guidance, you can learn which options are available to you, and you can get help weighing the pros and cons. Then you can be confident in your decision to straighten your smile.