A Great Option for Teenagers and Adults
Discreet Treatment for Beautiful Smiles
Clear ceramic braces are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. They’re not as hard to see as clear aligners, but they can treat more orthodontic problems. For this reason, ceramic braces are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns.
While they are visually less prominent, they do require more attention to oral hygiene as ceramic braces are larger and are more brittle than their metal counterparts. For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth.
Clear Ceramic Braces Versus Traditional Braces
Clear ceramic braces work the same way traditional braces do when it comes to shifting teeth. Brackets are attached to each tooth and an archwire guides them into position over time through gentle, continuous force. The wires are anchored to the brackets by small elastic ties. Patients come in for adjustment appointments every several weeks to keep the process moving toward Braces Off Day. Treatment typically lasts between 18-30 months.
The Anatomy of Clear Ceramic Braces
The different parts of your braces all contribute to the orthodontic treatment process in specific ways. You might have additional appliances tailored to your specific treatment plan, but everyone with clear ceramic braces has brackets and archwires, tied together with o-rings (also called bands or ligatures).
The type of clear ceramic brackets we use are smaller and more shallow than typically used in the past, and this makes them much less noticeable. This can also make them slightly more brittle than metal braces, so a patient should be careful to avoid sticky or hard foods that could damage them.
The archwires run through the brackets on each row of teeth. The orthodontist chooses the thickness and material of the archwire carefully based on your treatment plan. As they try to straighten back into their original shape, archwires provide steady, gradual pressure in the right direction so that your teeth will shift towards their proper position. The colorful o-rings are what keep the archwires in place in the brackets.
The most common addition to braces beyond the basics of brackets, archwires, and o-rings are elastics. If you have a malocclusion (bad bite) or misaligned jaw, elastics apply pressure to bring your jaws into proper alignment. In order for them to do their job, however, it is essential to exactly follow the orthodontist’s instructions. Wearing too many or too few rubber bands will interfere with your treatment and make it take longer.
The Mechanics and Biology of Aligning Teeth
When braces apply pressure to our teeth, they don’t simply move. There’s an intense cellular process happening in our jaws in response to that pressure. In front of the tooth, specialized cells called osteoclasts break down bone cells that are in the way, while osteoblasts build new bone cells behind the tooth to keep it fitting snugly in its socket. The bone is actually reshaping itself!
This is a major reason why it’s so important to go to an orthodontist for dental crowding, crookedness, or bad bites. It takes all those years of education and training we receive to be able to understand the best ways to encourage teeth to shift to their proper position. Someone with less experience might attempt an approach that doesn’t produce the best results or puts the teeth at risk.
Caring for Your Clear Ceramic Braces
As with regular braces, a patient will need to be more diligent about their brushing and flossing habits as the brackets and wires can easily trap food particles that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. The clear brackets and wires can sometimes be discolored if they are exposed to foods or drinks with dark pigments (such as coffee or wine). Fortunately, this call all be avoided with routine oral care.
How My Orthodontist Can Help
If you need braces but require an elegant, discreet solution, our doctors can help you explore clear ceramic braces. Call us today at (855) 776-9678 to set up a smile consultation and find out if clear ceramic braces are right for you!