Braces are some of the most common dental appliances in the world. Many teenagers throughout history have had to deal with several years of having their teeth realigned. We have either had them ourselves, or know someone who did.
And where braces were classically seen as something for teens, more and more these days we also see adults getting them too.
With new orthodontic appliances being developed year after year, now is a great time to look into straightening your teeth and fixing your bite.
What Are Braces?
Braces are also referred to as orthodontic appliances. They cover a wide variety of different appliances that are used to straighten teeth, help teeth fit together better, and even reshape the jaw.
Most braces fall into two categories: wire and bracket systems, and aligners.
Wire and bracket systems, as their names suggest, have two main components. The first, the brackets, are fixed to the teeth in strategic places. These form anchor points for the second component, the wire.
When the wires are tightened, they pull on the brackets which in turn press on the teeth. It’s this force that makes the teeth move over time. Brackets are repositioned and wires are tightened at regular intervals to ensure the process works.
With aligners, clear or tooth-colored plastics are used instead of wires and brackets. These aligners apply gentle force on the teeth which gradually shifts them into place. The aligners are replaced every few weeks with a new set that keeps the pressure on.
What Types of Braces Are There?
Braces come in all shapes and sizes for all sorts of budgets and problems. We’ll break them down into their main types: wire and bracket, and aligner.
Wire And Bracket Braces
Traditional braces are made out of metal brackets and metal wires. This is the classic “mouth full of metal” appearance that most associate with orthodontic work.
Traditional braces are still the gold standard. They’re effective, reliable and predictable in their results. They’re also the cheapest option on the market.
Ceramic braces use white ceramic brackets and white wires, but are otherwise the same as traditional braces. The use of ceramic and white wires simply makes the appliance much less noticeable than metal.
Lingual braces are still wire and bracket systems, but with a huge twist: they go on the inside of your mouth. They’re the most inconspicuous braces you can possibly get. Unless someone’s sticking their face in your mouth, they’re not going to see them.
On the downside, because they’re uncommon and require very precise work, they are proportionally more expensive and take longer to get used to.
Fast braces are a new type of brace system that has become very popular. There are many brands and styles, such as SmileFast and CFast, which are designed to work in six months rather than 18-24.
These fast brace systems are typically intended for cosmetic realignment of the front six teeth, not full orthodontic work.
The most popular form of aligner today is Invisalign.
Invisalign uses clear plastic aligners to reposition your teeth. Each set of aligners is custom-made for your mouth. They apply gentle pressure to your teeth, and every two weeks you swap them out for the next set.
Invisalign aligners are user-removable, so you can take them out to eat and clean your teeth. And when they say “clear” plastic, they mean it — Invisalign aligners are almost completely unnoticeable.