Gone are the days when the word braces just referred to metal squares and interwoven wires – there are now more orthodontic options than ever before. From traditional braces to Invisalign®, there are treatment options to fit any budget and any lifestyle.
There are two types of traditional braces – metal and ceramic. Most traditional braces are worn for one to two years and then removed permanently. Other forms of treatment may include phases where braces are put on for three to four months and removed, and then put on for another three to four months one year later.
Clear aligners are clear, plastic-like trays molded to the patient’s mouth. Multiple trays are arranged through a series of aligners to straighten the teeth. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, each aligner is worn for 2-3 weeks and moves teeth a fraction of a millimeter at a time.
Elastics are often paired with braces to enhance the tooth straightening capability of the braces alone. Small elastics are used to connect the top brackets to the bottom brackets via small hooks. Elastics should not be worn much more or less than the orthodontist requests as it can lead to overcorrecting.
Headgear is an appliance worn on the head that attaches to the braces, applying outside force to different parts of the face and jaws to influence their growth. Headgear should only be worn when it is prescribed by the patient’s orthodontist.
Most retainers are removable and can be manufactured in either clear or metal, depending upon treatment options suggested by the orthodontist. Both types of retainers are used as a post-braces care to keep teeth straight after orthodontic treatment.
Consult your orthodontist about what type of treatment will be most effective before making a decision.