Orthodontics typically involves the use of braces for aligning teeth. Braces consist of brackets that are bonded to the teeth, and arch wires that are threaded through the brackets. The arch wires act as a track and guide each tooth to its proper position. There are several types of orthodontic braces available to consumers, including the more traditional metal braces, ceramic "tooth-colored" braces, and clear plastic braces. Read the sections below to learn more about orthodontic braces and retainers, as well as the cost of orthodontics and financing alternatives.
Types of Orthodontic Braces and Brackets
Several kinds of orthodontic braces can be used to reposition teeth. Damon brackets and ceramic brackets are two of the most popular types of dental braces. Patients can choose from ceramic braces, plastic (clear braces), or stainless steel (metal braces). Stainless steel is a practical material, and the most common, but ceramic or plastic can be used for cosmetic purposes.
Before you decide on a method of treatment, you should always check with your orthodontist to find out what kinds of orthodontic braces are offered, and what dental insurance plans are accepted.
Ceramic "Tooth Colored" Brackets
Ceramic braces utilize less noticeable brackets for patients concerned about the appearance of their smile. Ceramic brackets are translucent, so they blend in with your natural tooth color. This means that, unlike traditional stainless metal braces, ceramic braces won't make your smile look "metallic." In addition, ceramic braces are designed so that they won't stain or discolor over long periods of time. An orthodontist can let you know if you are a candidate for ceramic braces.
Some dental offices offer clear braces. The brackets are made of pure monocrystalline sapphire, which makes the clear braces practically see-through - except for the arch wire. The closest thing to invisible braces currently available is the Invisalign® system. The patented Invisalign® trays straighten teeth effectively, yet are virtually unnoticeable.
Generally the most economical option, traditional metal braces may also be required for those needing extensive realignment. Your orthodontist will advise you whether metal orthodontic braces are necessary for your treatment.
One modern advancement in the practice of orthodontics is the Damon bracket. It was invented by a dentist named Damon Dwight. The Damon bracket uses a "sliding-door" technology called "self-ligation." It allows the wire to slide back and forth inside the bracket. This innovation causes less friction and is more comfortable for the patient. Also, Damon brackets reduce the orthodontic treatment time and number of adjustments.
Retainers are orthodontic appliances made from plastic and stainless steel wire which is used to hold a patient's teeth in place after their braces are removed. The retainer holds the teeth in their new position as the surrounding gums and bone adjust around them. The amount of time the retainer must be worn varies, but many orthodontists recommend teenagers wear their retainers into their early 20s.
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