Clear ceramic braces are similar to traditional braces but are less visible on the teeth. Unlike invisible aligners, these braces consist of brackets, ligatures, and archwires and work by the same mechanism as traditional braces. Clear ceramic braces, sometimes referred to as porcelain or tooth-colored braces, are made of composite materials. They can be a natural tooth color or completely translucent. These braces can be a great alternative for anyone concerned about the look of traditional braces. Unlike some alternatives to traditional braces, clear ceramic braces can effectively treat most orthodontic issues including problems with bite, malocclusions, crooked teeth and various other flaws of the teeth and jaws. Typically, clear ceramic braces are chosen by older teenagers and adults because of their cosmetic benefits.
Advantages of clear ceramic braces
Appearance is the most significant advantage of ceramic braces. These braces are considerably less noticeable than traditional metal braces, and that is an important factor for those concerned about the look of their orthodontic treatment. Many adults don’t want to wear traditional braces for social or professional reasons.
Clear ceramic braces have greatly improved over the years. The brackets are designed with aesthetics in mind and resist stains when properly cared for. Not only are the brackets typically clear, but the ligatures or rubber bands that hold the archwire in place are often white or clear. This helps to make the metal arch wireless noticeable, and often clear ceramic braces have the appearance of a simple orthodontic retainer.
Disadvantages of clear ceramic braces
- Discoloration: While brackets are designed to resist stains, the clear elastic ties that are often used with may become discolored over time. Drinking coffee and soda or smoking increase the chances of discoloration and typically result in yellowing of the ligatures. If the braces are not properly cared for and good oral hygiene is not practiced, the brackets can, in some, cases become discolored as well.
- Maintenance: As mentioned, ceramic braces require more attention to oral hygiene. They are typically larger and more brittle than metal braces. Because they are not as durable, these braces are not recommended for athletes playing contact sports.
- Cost: Ceramic braces are often more expensive than traditional metal braces requiring a larger investment.
- Treatment time: Clear ceramic braces require more time than traditional metal braces to move the teeth into the correct position resulting in longer treatment times.
Many orthodontists recommend that you wear clear ceramic braces on the top teeth only and metal braces on the bottom. Braces on the bottom jaw are far less visible, and this combination can help improve treatment time and costs. In addition, because the ceramic brackets are larger, when worn on the bottom teeth, they can come into contact with the top teeth while chewing. This side effect can wear down tooth enamel over time.
It is important to discuss all options with your orthodontist before deciding on a treatment. Clear ceramic braces are an excellent alternative to traditional metal braces when aesthetics are a concern, and the orthodontist can help you decide if they are right for you based on your orthodontic needs and your preferences.