Clear braces have become increasingly popular as the technology behind them has become more advanced and versatile. Clear braces are now equally as effective as metal braces in treating problems such as misalignments, overbites, crossbites, and underbites.
If you're looking forward to the beautiful smile orthodontic treatment can deliver but would rather not wear metal braces to achieve it, clear braces are a more discreet option.
Read on to learn more about clear braces and whether they may be the right option for you.
What are clear braces?
Clear braces are an alternative to traditional metal braces made of clear or tooth-colored ceramic or synthetic sapphire, making them less visible on your teeth than metal braces.
The process for treatment with clear braces is similar to that of traditional metal braces. The orthodontist will bond brackets to each tooth and thread archwires through them. This creates tension that gradually pulls your teeth into place.
How do clear braces work?
Clear braces are very similar to traditional metal bracket-and-wire orthodontic braces, but with one key difference: the brackets that hold the wire in place are made of a clear or tooth-colored material. The clear brackets make them much less visible than traditional metal brackets.
These clear brackets are typically made of ceramic, though they can also be made of synthetic sapphire. Each is as durable as metal yet far less noticeable on your teeth.
What kinds of conditions can clear braces correct?
Clear braces can correct the same cosmetic and functional dental conditions treated by traditional metal braces.
They can fix overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites. An overbite occurs when the upper jaw is too far forward, or the lower jaw is too far back. An underbite happens when the lower jaw juts out further than the upper jaw. A crossbite is an incorrect bite where the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth. An open bite is a gap between some of your front teeth when you bite down.
An incorrect bite can cause many problems for your mouth, including difficulty speaking and chewing, excessive wear on your teeth, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Tooth alignment is important for several reasons:
- Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to clean, thus decreasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Malocclusion (incorrect bite) can cause or exacerbate problems with the jaw joint and its associated muscles.
- When the teeth do not meet properly, it can wear down the enamel on your teeth or cause damage to your gum tissue.
- Evenly spaced, properly aligned teeth are less likely to suffer from excessive wear, trauma, or fracture.
Am I a suitable candidate for clear braces?
Clear braces are a viable orthodontic solution for many people. The main requirements for choosing clear braces are the same as with traditional metal braces:
- You have a problem that can be corrected with orthodontic treatment. These problems may include overcrowding, crooked teeth, large or uneven spacing between teeth, or malocclusion.
- You don't have any medical conditions that make wearing braces difficult to wear or maintain.
- You understand what's involved with wearing clear braces, and you're willing to follow your orthodontist's instructions for brushing, flossing, and scheduling appointments.
- Your gums and teeth are generally healthy (otherwise, you may first need to see your dentist).
You can likely be treated with clear braces if you meet the criteria above.
Clear braces are more expensive than metal braces, which may factor into your choice. Many dental insurance policies will cover the cost of clear braces, but only up to the cost of regular metal braces. Your out-of-pocket costs with clear brackets will most likely be higher.
Clear braces are more durable and stain-resistant than they were in the past, but they still fall short of stainless steel brackets in terms of strength. Metal braces have been a tried-and-true option for achieving beautiful smiles for decades, but contemporary clear braces are an excellent choice for many patients.