Types of Braces for Teeth
Different types of dental braces gives clients many choices in cost and timeline for orthodontic treatment.
Braces are used to align crooked teeth and/or to correct an under- or over-bite. Most courses of treatment involving braces are overseen by an orthodontist, although an increasing number of dentists are able to provide certain types of braces (i.e. Invisalign).
There are five types of braces for teeth: metal (traditional), gold, ceramic, Invisalign and lingual (behind-the-teeth). Which type is best for you depends on your orthodontic needs, your orthodontist's opinion and your personal preferences. Sometimes a combination of types of braces may be used. For example, you may start with Invisalign but finish treatment with a few months of metal braces.
Metal Braces (Traditional)
Metal braces are the most common form, and they involve attaching small metal brackets to each tooth with a special type of cement. All of the brackets are then wired together, and the orthodontist makes adjustments every few weeks to slowly force the teeth to change positions. A typical course of treatment with metal braces lasts two years.
Tiny elastic bands may be used to connect and adjust the upper teeth relative to the lower teeth. Most orthodontists offer a variety of color choices for these elastics so you can add your own personality to your braces.
Gold braces are very similar to metal braces, except the brackets are coated in gold, and therefore have a gold (as opposed to silver) appearance. The only difference between traditional metal braces and gold braces is the color, so it ultimately comes down to the patient's aesthetic preferences.
Ceramic braces involve attaching larger brackets to each tooth, although they are mostly clear and therefore harder to see. Some adults prefer ceramic braces because they're less noticeable, but the larger, more fragile brackets have a greater risk of breaking and of creating oral hygiene problems. People with ceramic braces must be particularly careful to maintain a regular brushing and flossing routine.
Minor orthodontic problems can be corrected with Invisalign, which are clear plastic aligners that you wear at least 19 hours a day. You receive a new set of aligners every two weeks, and each set shifts your teeth a tiny bit.
The aligners are usually anchored by tiny white "buttons" that your orthodontist will attach to your teeth (and remove at the end of treatment); these buttons are colored to match your teeth and most people will not notice them. You must remove Invisalign aligners in order to eat or drink anything except water; this makes brushing and flossing much easier than with other forms of braces. A typical course of Invisalign lasts between six months and two years. Invisalign is usually more expensive than other options.
Lingual Braces (Behind the Teeth)
Lingual braces are similar to metal braces, except they attach to the backs of your teeth instead of the front. This makes them harder to see, so lingual braces are often a better choice for models or actresses. Additionally, lingual braces don't interfere with playing wind instruments, so they are popular amongst musicians. Installing braces behind your teeth takes additional time and expertise as compared with other types.