Q: How can I decide which orthodontic treatment is best for my child?
A: Orthodontic braces are used to straighten teeth, close spaces, and help align the bite, which will result in a more esthetic smile and can help improve the function of your bite. The available types of braces all rely on a metal arch wire that applies light pressure in order to move the teeth into their correct position. Traditional metal braces are made from stainless steel, giving them the “metallic” and more obvious appearance that most people associate with having braces. Metal braces were once the only option orthodontic patients had if they wanted to straighten their teeth.
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Clear braces were created with esthetics in mind to provide an option for patients who wanted to fix their teeth but preferred a less obvious alternative to metal braces. Clear braces are the same size and shape as traditional metal braces and they work the same way. The main difference is that clear braces are made from non-metal materials like ceramic and plastic. Using a clear material helps hide the fact that you’re wearing braces by blending in with your teeth.
Clear braces should not be confused with Invisalign®, which is another alternative esthetic option available to orthodontic patients. Invisalign® consists of a series of clear, removable aligners that gradually move the teeth into their final corrected position. The main difference between braces and Invisalign® is that wires are not used to straighten the teeth and the aligners are removable.
There are a number of factors that must be considered when deciding which type of treatment you should choose, including the severity of your orthodontic issues, the cost, and your personal preference.
Traditional Metal Braces
They are the least expensive of all the options.
They are strong and rarely break/chip.
They are bonded to the teeth, and so don’t depend on your child wearing them or not.
Kids tend to like picking colors for the elastic ties that are changed at every visit.
They are more visible than ceramic braces and Invisalign®
Clear (Ceramic) Braces
They blend in with the teeth and tend to be less noticeable.
They are bonded to the teeth and don’t depend on your child wearing them or not.
The clear elastic ties can stain, though these are changed at monthly visits.
They are usually more expensive than traditional metal braces.
They are the most esthetic option.
It’s easier to keep teeth clean than with traditional metal and clear (ceramic) braces.
They are usually the most expensive option.
In some cases, your child may need more aligners than originally predicted.
They only work if your child wears them the recommended amount of time (22 hours per day).
They may not be as effective as traditional braces in treating certain types of orthodontic issues.
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With so many options, it can be really confusing to decide which one works best for you. That’s why we recommend scheduling a consultation with an orthodontic specialist in your area to review what your options are. Your final choice will be a combination of your personal preferences and your orthodontist’s professional opinion.