Tired of hiding your teeth and smiling behind your hand? Maybe now is the time to pursue a healthier and more vibrant smile that you can be proud of. At Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, TX, we work with children, teens, and adults to find the perfect orthodontic treatment for their lifestyle and oral needs. We can help you understand the difference in clear braces vs metal braces, and if you’re interested in Invisalign, we can determine whether that is also a treatment option.
Clear Braces vs Metal Braces: What’s the Difference?
The field of orthodontics has grown considerably over the last couple of decades. Traditional metal braces are still the most common form of treatment, but new alternatives have been developed that move and straighten teeth in less noticeable ways.
Some of these newer forms of treatment are popular among adults, working professionals, and other patients who are self-conscious about the look of metal braces. In fact, 25% of orthodontic patients today are adults. Metal braces, clear braces, and Invisalign are all popular orthodontic options, and there are advantages to each of these treatments.
Metal braces have been widely used in orthodontics for decades now, and many teens consider metal braces a rite of passage. As their name implies, metal braces involve the placement of metal brackets on the teeth. Wire is then inserted through the brackets and can be bent to apply pressure that gradually moves the teeth into proper alignment. Because teeth tend to move back into their old positions over time, most patients who wear metal bracers wear a clear retainer or aligner for a period of time after treatment.
One of the big advantages of metal braces is that they are durable, which makes them a great option for athletes, active teens, and others who pursue active lifestyles. Because they are permanently affixed to the teeth during treatment, another advantage to traditional metal braces is that they can’t be misplaced! And once patients become accustomed to wearing braces, many forget they have them on.
Clear braces, also known as ceramic braces because of the material they are made of, function much like metal braces but are designed to be less visible on the teeth. In fact, when equipping a patient with clear braces, our practice uses ceramic brackets that are completely translucent so that they blend in with the teeth.
Our brackets are also stain-resistant so patients don’t have to worry about tooth discoloration as a result of the treatment. Some of our patients who are fitted with ceramic braces also get fitted for a sports mouthguard that can help protect both the braces and the teeth. One of the biggest advantages of clear braces vs metal braces is the fact that clear braces are much less visible, making them ideal for patients worried about their appearance.
Invisalign, which has been around since 1997, is another popular treatment option that effectively aligns teeth without the look of metal braces.
Invisalign patients wear a series of custom-fitted plastic-like aligner trays that fit over the teeth. Most patients move to a new aligner every couple of weeks, and over time, these thin aligners gradually move your teeth into place. Invisalign has become a popular option among teen and adult patients.
In addition to the fact that the aligners are clear and invisible, Invisalign is a gentle and comfortable treatment option that minimizes irritation to the gums and mouth. Another big advantage associated with Invisalign is the fact that the patient can remove the aligner trays for eating and drinking, for brushing and flossing, and occasionally, for short social engagements or important events like job interviews.
Which Treatment Option Is Best for Me?
Each patient has different orthodontic needs, different lifestyle considerations, and different concerns, making the decision about clear braces vs metal braces an individual one. Our practice is led by Dr. Michael Ragan, who will conduct an initial consultation with you and work with you to determine the best approach to treatment.
During your visit, we’ll use state-of-the-art technology to develop a digital impression of your teeth and bite. Dr. Ragan will examine your mouth, and we may take x-rays as well. Once we’ve settled on a course of treatment, it’s just a matter of scheduling your next appointment to get started. All of your treatment will be overseen by Dr. Ragan, a native of the Dallas area and a graduate of the Baylor College of Dentistry. Dr. Ragan has been in dentistry for over 25 years and orthodontics for 20 years.
Will I Have to Wear Headgear?
Headgear has traditionally been used in orthodontics to correct an overbite or a situation in which the upper teeth stick out too far in front of the lower teeth. Though effective, many patients find headgear uncomfortable to wear. Rather than headgear, our practice relies on an orthodontic device known as the Carriere Distalizer to correct overbites.
The Carriere Distalizer bonds to the upper teeth and uses elastics to create the force needed to push teeth back into their proper place. The Carriere Distalizer is frequently used at the start of orthodontic treatment and can reduce the overall time a patient is in treatment.
How Are Braces Put On?
Both metal and clear braces are put on in the same way, and this painless process only takes an hour or two. Your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned, and then a bonding glue will be used to attach the brackets — either metal or ceramic — to the center of each tooth. Your orthodontist will also apply bands around your rear molars to anchor the braces.
Wires are then placed through the brackets and secured with elastic bands. Many patients enjoy selecting the color of the rubber bands that are used, and some even pick out a different color at each appointment.
How Long Does Orthodontic Treatment Last?
Orthodontic treatment times vary depending on the individual patient and his or her situation. But in general, treatment time lasts from 8 months to 30 months. Because we understand that many patients would like to minimize the amount of time they spend in braces, our practice offers AcceleDent, a device that can shorten treatment time by up to 50 percent by speeding up the effectiveness of the treatment.
How does AcceleDent work? Patients place this small easy-to-use orthodontic device between the upper and lower teeth and gently bite down on it to hold it in place. While it’s in your mouth, AcceleDent transmits micro-vibrations that speed up the movement of your teeth. AcceleDent is suitable for both adults and children.
How Should I Care for My Teeth While Wearing Braces?
Brushing and flossing regularly — two of the guiding principals for good dental health — are equally important while you’re wearing braces. We recommend that patients brush their teeth within 5 minutes of eating anything, even if it’s just a snack, to remove plaque. We will teach you the proper way to floss while wearing braces.
We recommend using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft, rounded-bristle to brush every surface of your teeth as well as all the parts of your braces. If your braces look clean and shiny, and you and see the edges of the brackets, you have probably done a good job brushing your teeth.
What Are the Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment?
Regardless of which orthodontic treatment you opt for, having a great smile can boost your self-confidence and help you make a great first impression. If you’ve struggled with crooked teeth, you’ll be surprised at just how good it feels once you have a straight smile. But aesthetics aren’t the only reason it’s beneficial to seek orthodontic treatment. Having properly aligned teeth offers a number of other benefits, from fewer cavities to better digestion.
A Healthier Mouth
Teeth that are properly spaced and aligned are easier to keep clean. When you brush and floss, you’ll be able to better reach the small spaces between your teeth where bacteria can build up. Because your brushing and flossing efforts will be more effective, gum disease and cavities will be less likely.
Teeth that are crooked and out of place aren’t as effective when it comes to chewing food into digestible sizes. By ensuring that your teeth fit well together when you are biting, braces can also minimize long-term wear and tear on the jaw and the teeth. And because the food you swallow will be properly chewed, you’ll be able to more easily digest what you’ve eaten.
Teeth that are out of place are more likely to experience cracks or other damage when chewing crunchy, tough, or fibrous foods. Teeth that are out of place are also more vulnerable to injury if you’re involved in a car accident or if you accidentally fall or suffer a sports injury.
Better Face Alignment
In some cases, moving your teeth into a better position through orthodontic treatment can make your lips and jaw more proportionate to your face.
The alignment of the teeth also impacts the way words sound as you speak, and patients whose teeth are not straightened often find it hard to pronounce certain sounds.
Who Is a Candidate for Orthodontic Screening?
While many of our patients are referred by dentists, anyone who has concerns about the alignment of their teeth is welcome to call our practice to schedule a consultation. A referral from a dentist is not required, and we welcome child, teen, and adult patients. Crooked teeth generally don’t resolve themselves on their own because the space in the mouth actually gets smaller as patients age. So it’s best to get an orthodontic evaluation sooner rather than later.
We recommend that once a child’s permanent teeth start to come in — usually around the age of 7 — he or she be scheduled for an orthodontic screening. Orthodontic treatment generally does not start on children until they are between the age of 11 and 15, but these earlier screenings are a way of confirming that everything is on track, and, in certain cases, earlier corrective action can be beneficial. In addition to braces and Invisalign, our office can also help with sports mouth guards and thumb-sucking solutions.
Why Choose Our Practice?
Are you ready to take the first step toward a bright new smile? Call Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, TX, today to schedule your consultation. Our practice offers state-of-the-art technology, easy scheduling, affordable and flexible payment options, and a warm family-like environment. We can help determine whether clear braces vs metal braces are the best route for you and put you on track for a straighter smile.