Old, Reliable Metal Braces: Are They Still Necessary?

“Invisible” clear aligners; colorless ceramic brackets; hidden lingual braces: It seems these are the hottest topics when we discuss orthodontic appliances today. And it’s not hard to understand why—who wouldn’t like their orthodontic treatment to be undetectable? So we might be forgiven for asking whether those old reliable metal braces are still a viable option.

The answer: a resounding YES.

They may not be wining the beauty contest, but those traditional fixed metal braces are still considered the gold standard in orthodontic care. They’re capable of handling situations that none of the other systems can. Plus, if you haven’t taken a good look at them lately, you might be surprised at what you see: These aren’t your parents’ metal braces. Let’s see why traditional metal braces are still the most popular choice when it comes to realigning your teeth.

Fixed metal braces are the most reliable option when your orthodontist needs to make complex adjustments in your bite. In addition to moving teeth forward, back, and from side to side, they can also pivot or rotate individual teeth. They work well with elastics (rubber bands) or even headgear—and their results are quite predictable. Using these appliances, your orthodontist can make a customized plan for getting your teeth into the proper alignment, and carry it out in a reasonable amount of time.

Can’t the same thing be done with the other systems? In some cases, yes… but not always. Clear aligners can be used in situations where a small or moderate amount of realignment is needed, but they aren’t appropriate in all cases. And while they are easily removable, they must be worn a minimum of 22 hours a day to be effective. That means compliance can be a problem—particularly for younger people.

Lingual braces, which are placed on the tongue side of the teeth rather than the lip side, can also be effective in some situations. However, they are significantly more expensive than traditional braces, and they may take some time to get used to; some patients have reported minor discomfort from the braces contacting the tongue.

Ceramic braces are similar to metal ones in many ways; the major difference is that their brackets are clear or tooth-colored rather than metallic. While they can do most of the things metal braces can, the brackets themselves aren’t quite as strong as metal. That means they can be broken off by eating chewy foods, and other things. And although less durable, they’re also more expensive than traditional metal braces.

Ready to give metal braces a second look? You may notice that they no longer use metal bands around the front teeth, as was once the case. Instead, tiny brackets are now securely bonded right to the front surfaces of the teeth, and bands are only used on the back molars. A thin, springy archwire runs through the brackets, applying the light, consistent force that’s needed to move teeth into better positions. Elastics (rubber bands) or other devices can be attached as needed.

Does this mean you shouldn’t consider other types of braces? Of course not! By all means, ask your orthodontist what your options are in terms of appliances. If you’re an adult and your teeth are only moderately misaligned, perhaps making a commitment to wear clear aligners would be a good choice. Ceramic or lingual braces also might offer an unobtrusive treatment method in the appropriate situation. However, for the majority of people having orthodontic treatment, traditional metal braces are just fine, thanks. They may not be the latest innovation, or the prettiest ornament—but they’re effective, predictable and reasonable in cost. And they can help you get a better-looking smile that’s yours forever. To learn more call one of our :DP AtYourService Customer Care Representatives at 1-800-238-5163.


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