Rarely has a medical technique jumped with such impetus from the field of health to the world of aesthetics. Braces, those wires that when smiling become the nightmare of adolescents, have evolved driven by a growing market of adults willing to visit the dentist and put on a dental appliance to improve their well-being and beauty .
Today it is possible to leave the dentist’s office with invisible orthodontics, made of sapphire or porcelain, without damaging the smile.
In this Groupon guide, in addition to explaining the different types of orthodontics that your dentist can advise you, we will inform you of the duration of these treatments, their results, the particularities they have in children and adults and their prices . In addition, you can find some tips to keep them in good condition for as long as you have to wear them.
What are braces and what is orthodontics?
Orthodontics can often be confused with a beauty treatment like any other. As indicated by the Spanish Society of Orthodontics (SEDO) , the concern for dental straightening “makes the public forget the importance of the biological foundations and functional objectives of this dental specialty”.
Its purpose, beyond achieving an individual and detailed placement of the teeth, seeks to correct the alteration of the jaws, the face and, above all, functional disorders of chewing.
The deviation of the upper or lower half of the denture, its position too lopsided, advanced or delayed, can mean that the bones that support it, the jaws , are poorly located, which, consequently, leads to problems to start swallowing .
But it is true that, since the symmetry of the features is one of the main objective parameters that we can enunciate of beauty, an unbalanced face, or a disorderly smile are less beautiful. With the pursuit of a health objective, orthodontics achieves, as a secondary effect, an aesthetic purpose . Even so, it is important not to get confused: orthodontics does not aim to locate dental arches to the consumer’s taste, but in the most functional position possible.
However, even with a side effect, it is understandable that the results obtained in this area have sparked the interest of many adults who might not otherwise make efforts to correct deficiencies in this area. The problem is that for an adult, making the smile less attractive while the treatment lasts is surely a real setback.
For this reason, little by little, the search for greater functionality in the appliances used has been added to the effort to make its fundamental components less and less conspicuous: the brackets .
To understand the importance of these elements, the braces, it is convenient to imagine the orthodontic appliance as a hunting bow. The piece of wood bends when the hunter prepares to shoot the arrow, but given its elastic condition, when it stops exerting effort, it recovers its original shape, dragging the rope with it until it also takes it to its starting position. In the same way, the usual orthodontic treatment uses a tensioned wire that, as it slowly regains its shape, drags the teeth with it to another location.
It is easy to assume that for the teeth to move, like the bowstring, they must be held in some way to the bowstring. The brackets are the elements in charge of this function. These are individual pieces adhered on one side to the tooth surface, while on the other, traditionally by means of an elastic, they continue to be connected to the wire.
It is necessary that they be highly resistant pieces to face both the tension of the wire and the teeth (reluctant to change their position), so that, until recently, they were only built with metal. Currently, thanks to technical advances, it is possible to find models made from porcelain or sapphire .
However, even being the most important, appliances that include braces are not the only tools available to orthodontics. Sometimes, at the end of the relocation of the teeth it is necessary to use other appliances called retainers to ensure that the natural tendency of the teeth to regain their initial position does not prevail.
In addition, an alternative has recently appeared that replaces the brackets with transparent plastic covers, initially marketed by Invisalign and that achieve the same purpose of moving the dental arches to their optimal place.
Types of brackets
The metal brackets, the wire -or arch- similar in color to the clips, and the white elastic band that held both pieces, still exist, but today they are one among many other options. For the little ones, fun variants have emerged, such as elastic bands in various shades . The trend in adults is precisely the opposite: to make the braces go as unnoticed as possible.
It is this field that has grown most fruitfully in recent years. Today, depending on the budget and the recommendations of each dentist, the patient can choose, for example, to use sapphire braces or to place the orthodontics on the back of the tooth. Next, we detail the main types of brackets that have emerged as alternatives to the classic metal appliance.
1. Ceramic aesthetic brackets
The metallic color of traditional braces is impossible to disguise on the tooth. Painting them entirely white to camouflage them, as wire is sometimes painted, is not a good solution either. While the archwire is periodically replaced , the brackets are preserved from the beginning to the end of the treatment. During the year and a half that they remain fixed, apart from the deterioration that the paint layer may suffer, the discolorations of the teeth and the stains would make them considerably striking.
Therefore, the most common option to improve aesthetics involves a change in the material with which they are built. Currently, to achieve this purpose, two types of ceramics are usually used, sapphire and porcelain . We then order these materials from lowest to highest degree of visibility.
• Sapphire brackets
Literally, it consists of making the braces with a precious stone. They are built with pure monocrystalline sapphire (zincorn), a material that, as indicated by Dentalia , provides interesting advantages, beyond its transparency and resistance: it does not stain , as long as good hygiene is maintained, nor does it wear out.
The Ferrus Bastos Clinic adds that its polishing process provides a smooth contour, increasing comfort for the patient. Unfortunately, it requires a daily and deep dental cleaning and its price is considerably higher than that of normal braces.
When choosing this option, it should be remembered that, although they are transparent brackets, the wire normally still has a metallic color. For this reason, it is advisable to replace the traditional wire with another painted white , so that it is difficult to distinguish it from the teeth.
• Porcelain brackets
They have nothing to envy to the previous ones in resistance and their molding also makes them really comfortable for the client. However, unlike sapphire, porcelona is not transparent . Its white color makes it easy to camouflage these braces with the enamel of the teeth – which is why they are also called invisible braces.
However, they stain more easily than those made with glass, so it is necessary to carry out careful hygiene to avoid staining and yellowing throughout the process. In their favor, apart from aesthetics, they count on the fact that porcelain reduces the risk of causing irritation or ulcers inside the mouth.
As with sapphire brackets, it is convenient to change the traditional wire for a white one.
2. Plastic aesthetic braces
Plastic is a material that can be in any color we choose, so using it to make white braces seems like a logical consequence. However, from the Ferrus & Bratos clinic they warn that, among the aesthetic materials used in orthodontics, this is the one that resists stains the worst and, consequently, the one that stains the most.
In addition, plastic does not transmit stress, given its deformation capacity, with the same efficiency as metal or ceramic, thus reducing the effectiveness of orthodontics. In its favor, however, it can be argued that it is the most economical option when braces are intended to go unnoticed.
3. Lingual or incognito orthodontics
Sooner or later someone had to stand, bearing in mind that the intention is to make the appliance invisible, why it is placed in front of the teeth (vestibular area) instead of behind (lingual area). The answer is the brackets on the inside , placed on the back of the teeth and consequently imperceptible from the outside.
The main advantage is obvious: it goes so unnoticed that this technique has earned the nickname of “incognito orthodontics” . In addition, adds Sanitas , its location facilitates the normal cleaning of the teeth and prevents the appearance of stains when removing the appliance. Its main disadvantage is that its placement requires a highly skilled dentist , which increases the price between 30 and 40%. In addition, the change in location causes irritation to the tongue in some patients and slightly lengthens the treatment.
4. Damon brackets or self-ligating
Better known by the main brand that markets it, Damon , unlike previous models, this type of orthodontics does not aim to increase the aesthetics of the smile, but rather to reduce the treatment time . Bracket-based orthodontic appliances, apart from these braces, need a wire or arch and small elastic bands.
Damon orthodontics, and the other self-ligating orthodontics, replace traditional braces with others capable of fixing the wire by themselves using a small tab, without the need for elastics . In this way, less tension is wasted – and remember that this tension is responsible for moving the teeth – making the system more effective and significantly shortening the treatment.
In addition, it reduces the number of visits necessary for the dentist to readjust the arch and makes it possible to attack a greater number of malocclusion problems without the need to previously extract teeth. Finally, the absence of gums, collaterally, ends up providing an aesthetic advantage, because less food remains on the brackets.