Braces are orthodontic devices used to straighten teeth and correct abnormal bites. For patients concerned with maintaining an attractive appearance while straightening their teeth, clear braces offer a more aesthetically pleasing alternative. As more adults seek orthodontic treatment, clear braces have become increasingly popular, enabling patients to maintain a professional, mature image throughout the course of their treatment.
Made of a ceramic material designed to match the color of the teeth, clear braces provide comparable results to metal braces without the metal-colored wires and brackets. Clear braces allow patients to correct a crooked smile or bite problems while essentially camouflaging the equipment being used.
The same routine orthodontic care, regular dental care, and careful daily cleaning are necessary for clear braces as for metal ones. Patients with any type of braces should be prepared to wear retainers at night for a period of years in order to keep their teeth in the correct position permanently.
Wearing Clear Braces
Patients who decide to wear clear braces are fitted with removable orthodontic aligners that the orthodontist adjusts as the teeth shift. No metal or wires are involved in the process. Normally, each set of aligners is worn for a period of approximately 2 weeks, during which time the teeth are moved gradually into their correct position. On average, the total treatment time takes between 6 and 18 months.
Benefits of Clear Braces
Because clear braces are nearly invisible, there is a significant advantage to patients who wear them in that they retain an attractive professional appearance during treatment. This may be especially important to individuals who are required to make oral presentations or speeches. Other benefits of clear braces are that they:
- Are smooth and comfortable with no wires to snag soft tissue
- Enable patients to eat whatever they want
- Are removable for efficient cleaning
The fact that clear braces do not have wires or brackets to irritate the mouth is a significant advantage since it permits a much greater degree of comfort for the patient and prevents the development of small oral sores. The fact that clear braces are removable is also extremely beneficial because it means that the patient can remove the device for eating and clean both the teeth and the apparatus with a thoroughness not possible with metal braces. This helps to maintain dental health and prevent plaque build-up.
Disadvantages of Clear Braces
While clear braces are normally a very successful alternative to metal braces, there are times when they don't work as well. Metal braces may be required when:
- The teeth are severely crooked
- There is a significant bite problem
- The teeth are of differing heights
- The teeth are severely rotated out of position
In such situations, traditional metal braces are likely to provide better results more quickly. Other disadvantages of clear braces are that the adhesive used with clear braces may stain if the patient smokes or drinks dark beverages and that clear braces are more costly than metal ones.