What Are Clear Braces?
Sometimes, people get braces to correct a serious flaw in the structure of their teeth or mouth, such as an overbite, crowded mouth, or turned tooth. More often than not, though, braces (and even more particularly adult braces) are used to create a more aesthetic appearance or smile. If that's the case, then you'll probably be looking for the most subtle, nonintrusive, and easy-to-manage solution possible.
Invisible braces and aligners are good options for adult braces or for anyone looking for a more discreet teeth braces treatment. These are made from clear material so that the braces or aligners can not be seen (or are very difficult to see). If you are considering this orthodontic procedure but are hesitant because you're nervous about how braces will affect your appearance, clear braces will alleviate this issue entirely.
Clear braces can be made of a few materials, including ceramic, porcelain, or plastic. The higher the quality, the more durable and the less inclined to straining the material will be. Self-ligating brackets hold themselves in place, not requiring the usual rubber bands to hold the wire to the brackets. These are preferred by many orthodontists because the rubber bands are usually the part that yellows fastest regardless of how clear the bracket and wire material is.
Clear braces and aligners may be put on the top row of teeth or on both top and bottom rows. They’re seldom used exclusively on the bottom row because the strong material that clear braces are made of could potentially wear away at the enamel of the inside of the upper teeth when an overbite is present.
Do Clear Braces Work?
When used properly and in the right situation, clear braces work incredibly well. In fact, due to technological advancements, patients are seeing better results in shorter time frames. It is important that these tools are used under the right conditions because whether you are using them for aesthetic enhancement or to correct an oral irregularity, even the best invisible braces won’t be of use if they’re implemented incorrectly.
Clear braces and clear aligners are used in a number of situations, and a professional orthodontist will be equipped to assess your situation to determine if you are a good candidate for this type of procedure. Some of the more commonly experienced dental problems that invisible braces and aligners are used to correct include:
- Overly crowded teeth
- Widely spaced teeth
- Mild relapse
- Simple bite irregularities
Clear braces are also a good choice for those who are not good candidates for clear aligners (usually because their dental irregularities are too complex to be fixed with aligners).
Once you've determined that you are using the clear braces for the right use case, the other factor that will significantly contribute to the success of the treatment is continuous and consistent proper care. What often happens with corrective gear such as clear braces and even more so clear aligners is that people begin the process enthusiastically. They abide by all the rules and are conscientious about the regulations. As time goes by, though, people get lazy, less interested, or too busy to be as meticulous as they were at the beginning of the treatment. When this happens, the results will obviously suffer.
Bottom line, if you want your clear braces or aligner to really work, you need to listen to the instructions. This may include:
- Wearing them for the correct, prescribed length of time. For aligners, this is usually 22 hours a day.
- Switching the aligners when it’s time for a new tray. Clear aligners come in sets that vary slightly one from another to gradually shift the teeth into a straighter, more appealing position. You need to switch your aligner according to the prescribed schedule that your orthodontist will draw up for you. Not switching at the right time or using the wrong aligner at the wrong time can cause irregular results or discomfort.
- Not eating foods that may damage the braces
- Going for regular checkups when applicable
How Do Clear Braces Work?
The process of teeth straightening with clear aligners is relatively quick - on average about a year or less. To begin, you'll either use an at-home impression kit to make a mold of your teeth or visit an office to have an orthodontist or technician take a scan and/or x-ray.
You'll then be given several sets of aligners that you'll wear for a specific amount of time, usually 2 weeks at a time. With some companies, you have the option of choosing aligners you'll wear during the day or at night. If you go with daytime aligners, you'll need to wear them at least 20 hours a day, whereas nighttime aligners need only be worn in your sleep.
The aligners will progressively straighten your teeth, but once the process is finished and you're pleased with your results, you'll need to wear a retainer at night afterward so your teeth don't move back to their original positions.
What Is a Good Age for Braces?
Regardless of whether you are looking to get clear braces, invisible aligners, or even the more traditional metal braces, all orthodontists will tell you not to begin this type of treatment before the age of 8. This is because the permanent adult teeth haven’t had enough time to develop within the mouth. Most orthodontists will recommend starting teeth braces treatment somewhere between the ages of 10 and 14 years old.
It’s true that teenagers are typically the age we associate with teeth braces, but this is not exclusively the case. In fact, over 30% of orthodontic patients are there for adult braces.
How Long Does it Take for Invisible Braces to Work?
The length of treatment time will vary considerably depending on several factors. For one thing, the severity and type of condition will be the biggest determining factor. Obviously, a very serious overbite will take longer to correct than a minor one.
Another factor that will contribute to your treatment’s time frame is which type of solution you choose. Clear braces generally take a bit longer than aligners, but that’s probably due to the fact that clear braces are used for more severe cases, in general.
Additionally, if you have any issues such as gum disease, this will need to be treated before your teeth braces treatment can begin.
All things considered, most patients can complete their clear braces treatment within 2 years. The average patient finishes anywhere from 6 months to a year. It's important that patients continue to wear the retainers they're given after their treatment or the teeth will eventually shift back to their original positions.
How Much Do Invisible Braces Cost?
Invisible braces and aligners used to be more expensive than traditional metal braces. But with the advancements in technology and the greater demand for these discreet options, invisible braces are now offered for comparable pricing. In fact, there are many solutions like Invisalign that are significantly cheaper than the more traditional braces. The prices for clear braces can be as low as $100 a month or less.
It's also worth noting that lots of these treatments are covered either partially or entirely by your insurance plan. Check your own dental policy to see what is covered, what requires a co-pay, and what will be eligible for reimbursement before you decide on the best treatment method for you.
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