Even if you are aware of the potential benefits of wearing braces for a certain period of time, you may not be all that thrilled about the idea of displaying metal wires to the whole world – or at least anybody you run into on a regular basis. If this is what has you thinking twice about taking the next step to correct a problem with your bite or smile, you may appreciate clear braces instead. This option is appealing for many reasons. If you’re new to braces, read on to get the scoop on clear braces.
What are Clear Braces?
Created with aesthetics in mind, clear braces are an increasingly popular cosmetic alternative to traditional metal braces. You may also appreciate this option if it turns out that you’re not a preferred candidate for a clear-aligner treatment known as Invisalign®.
Braces that are clear can be made of different materials, although it’s common for the main parts to be made of ceramic or porcelain. Unlike traditional metal braces, clear ones blend in with your teeth and appear translucent. The ligatures (rubber bands) that hold the arch wire in place are usually clear or white to further blend in with the brackets.
Clear Braces are Discreet in Many Ways
Once the braces are in place, it typically looks as if you are just wearing an orthodontic retainer. Because they are usually made of ceramic or porcelain materials, your teeth will be visible, not your dental appliance. This is a great option if you are concerned about how you may look with braces. While this is a common concern for teens, it’s perfectly understandable for adults to have similar concerns. And because these braces are so discreet, wearers won’t have to worry about such things as:
• Photos: Because braces with a clear design are naturally discreet, you won’t have to purposely avoid getting your photo taken while wearing braces. You can even feel confident about class photos or work-related photos since braces that are clear do not show up in pics.
• People focusing on the braces: Your smile will be front and center, not your braces! In fact, you may be surprised at how easy it is to completely forget you’re even wearing clear braces!
• Concerns about teasing: This is an especially important concern for younger wearers. As mentioned above, braces that are clear aren’t designed to attract attention or make the wearer stand out in a negative way.
• Attracting the wrong kind of attention in professional settings: If you’re an adult getting braces, you may have concerns about your professional image. But with braces that are clear, you can retain your confidence and discretion as you improve your smile!
There are Many Options with Placement
There are many possible options with the placement of braces that are clear. Because the ceramic material can be a bit rough, it’s sometimes preferable to place clear braces on top teeth so bottom teeth don’t experience unintended wear.
However, it’s also possible for the braces with a clear design to be used on both top and bottom teeth at the same time. Another option with placement is to go with clear on top and metal on the bottom, or vice-versa. The decision with placement will be made based on the results of your initial evaluation for braces and your wants and needs.
Discoloration/Staining is Easy to Fix If It Does Happen
High-quality clear braces are designed to stand up to regular wear and tear fairly well. However, the clear elastic ties that are used to gently realign your teeth can become discolored or stained over time. Fortunately, these ties are removable! In fact, they are often changed with each visit to ensure they are clean and not discolored.
There are self-ligating braces that do not use ties. Instead, a metal door is used to hold the wire in place. If you do have clear or transparent braces with ties, discoloration issues can be minimized if you avoid certain foods. Some of these include:
• Coffee, cola, and fruit juices
• Foods with yellow spices and curry
• Dark colored chocolates and candy
• Tomato-based sauces
The Wire is Just as Discreet
If discretion is what matters most to you when it comes to braces, rest assured all parts of clear braces are designed to minimize visibility as much as possible. This includes the wire that’s attached to the brackets. The wire that holds the individual braces together is usually white or silver. However, silver-colored wires are more common. But even with silver wires, visibility is still minimized.
Clear Braces are Easy to Care for
Unlike Invisalign® aligners, clear braces are not removable. You may think this isn’t as convenient, but removable appliances do have some notable drawbacks. With braces that are clear, you simply leave them in. If a child will be wearing these braces, parents won’t have to worry about them being left at school or lost, which can definitely mean much-appreciated savings coupled with some added peace of mind! As for care, braces that are clear are easy to maintain between orthodontic appointments. Routine care typically involves:
• Brushing teeth after each meal
• Flossing and rinsing to prevent the buildup of food particles
• Quitting smoking if you’re a smoker so you don’t stain your braces or the elastic ligatures
• Avoiding the foods discussed above
• Not using whitening toothpaste so you don’t end up with tooth discoloration, since this type of toothpaste can’t get under the brackets
• Letting our orthodontist know ASAP if you braces become damaged or loose
Many Orthodontic Conditions Can Be Treated with Less Visible Braces
Braces that are clear are just as functional as metal braces. But they may not be considered ideal for younger children with complex orthodontic problems requiring more durable metal braces. However, clear or “invisible” braces are highly versatile are often preferred by teens and adults concerned about discretion. Many common orthodontic conditions can be treated with braces of this nature. Some of these include:
• Overbites or underbites
• Teeth that are widely spaced
• Teeth that are crowding parts of your mouth
• Crooked or misaligned teeth
A Boost in Confidence Makes the Brace-Wearing Experience Pleasant
It’s safe to assume you’re not actively looking to wear braces. It’s usually a decision that’s made when there’s an obvious issue with misalignment that’s not responding well to early treatment efforts, such as the use of retainers. Clear or ceramic braces can also encourage wearers to be more diligent about caring for their teeth. This is more likely to happen as positive improvements with alignment are seen as the braces subtly do what they’re designed to do!
There’s Typically No Noticeable Impact on Tooth Enamel
Thanks to advances in technology, braces that are clear can be firmly attached to teeth. What’s more, they are attached in a way that does not damage the enamel that’s under the brackets if a top-of-the-line bonding agent is used. But you’ll still benefit from impressive adhesive strength, which means your braces will likely stay comfortably in place for your entire treatment period.
Post-Treatment Removal is Easy
Also because of technological advances, it’s easy to remove clear brackets and the related components. Removal occurs after treatment has been completed, which means the correct alignment has been achieved. Once the braces have been removed, you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy smile without the need to do anything other than regularly care for your teeth and gums.
Don’t Forget the Comfort Factor
Aside from aesthetics, many clear brace wearers appreciate a noticeable improvement with comfort. The smaller, rounded brackets and the ceramic or porcelain material often results in less gum irritation. Many wearers find the overall experience with clear or invisible braces easier to bear than what’s common with metal braces, which tend to be heavier and more cumbersome. However, it all depends on the patient experience, which varies.
Colored Bands Can Be Added for Younger Wearers
Some younger brace wearers actually prefer some added flair with their braces, even when the braces themselves are actually clear. If this is the case, colored bands can be added to create some dazzle and a splash of personality! If this is what you or your child wants, simply let the orthodontist know during regular follow-up visits during the treatment period.
Treatment May Be Shorter Than with Some Other Options
While you may be able to get the same results with removable aligners, you may end up having to undergo a longer treatment period in order to do so. Because clear braces are worn continuously, your teeth will always be receiving an appropriate amount of “pressure” to help with the realignment process.
And because braces that are clear are incredibly discreet, this process can take place as you go about your normal routine with little fuss or distraction. Of course, the specific length of your treatment period will vary based on what’s being corrected and other patient-specific factors.
The cost and other considerations regarding clear braces can be provided if it’s decided this option with braces is right for you. While you may appreciate the discretion offered by braces that are clear, rest assured that braces designed not to stand out from the crowd are just as effective as their traditional counterparts. When properly inserted and cared for, clear or “invisible” braces can straighten crooked teeth, help prevent cavities, minimize your risk of having jaw joint (TMJ) problems, and reduce your risk of developing serious dental issues down the road.
Turn to the team at Dr. Scott Runnels Orthodontics to learn more about clear braces and our other available treatment options. We are proud to serve Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Freeport, Miramar Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Panama City Beach, Panama City, and the surrounding areas at our three locations in Destin, Inlet Beach, and Santa Rosa Beach. Contact us today to book an appointment and get started!