Dental braces are the most well-known form of orthodontic appliance. They come in different styles — the classic all-metal look, the subtle ceramic style, and can even be placed on the backs of teeth for a completely discrete look. Each of these types has different strengths and weaknesses that make them more or less desirable for patients.
So what are the pros and cons of dental braces? Let’s take a look. We’ll start with general pros and cons, and then look at specific ones for the different types.
General Pros and Cons
The following pros and cons apply to every type of dental brace.
- Bring your teeth into proper alignment. Whether it’s slightly crooked teeth or crowded, maloccluded teeth that don’t sit together properly, dental braces will get you sorted. By applying gentle pressure to the teeth over time, they will push and pull the teeth into an optimum, healthy position.
- Improve oral hygiene. Straight, aligned teeth are easier to clean and less prone to getting food particles stuck between them. This makes keeping your mouth healthy and clean a lot easier.
- Improve gum health. Gums are sorely overlooked by most people when it comes to oral health. Straightening teeth helps strengthen the gums and hold the teeth better in their sockets.
- Braces can help boost your self-confidence and self-esteem. Crooked teeth are a popular source of embarrassment for many people. Straightening out teeth allows people to smile with confidence.
- General discomfort. All form of braces incur some level of discomfort and a transitional period where you need to get used to them. In a normal case, this doesn’t mean pain, just a feeling of something being in the mouth that shouldn’t be there.
- Soreness in the soft tissues of the mouth. The tongue and insides of the cheek and lip can become sore rubbing against the metal and ceramic of the braces.
- Special dietary requirements. Having braces will alter the foods you’re allowed to eat during the treatment. This is to prevent damage to the braces and allow them to function.
- Special cleaning requirements. Braces require special cleaning routines. It is very important to keep braces clean, as they can easily trap food. Trapped food particles can feed bacteria, which in turn causes gum disease and periodontal disease.
- Many follow-up appointments. Hopefully you’ll develop a great relationship with your dentist or orthodontist, because you’ll be seeing them a lot!
- Orthodontic treatment is not cheap, and can run many hundreds of dollars.
- Orthodontic treatment is, generally, not fast. While there are 6-month “fast” options available, these only treat the front teeth — and with often questionable results. Full orthodontic treatment can last up to two years.
It might seem like there are many more cons than pros, but keep in mind — the pros of the treatment are to improve the look and function of your mouth. This might be two things, but they’re very bigthings. Comparatively, having to deal with mild discomfort for some time and the cost of treatment might seem like big deals, but are small prices to pay for the results.
Now let’s take a look at more specific pros and cons.
Metal Braces vs Ceramic Braces
Traditional all-metal braces are the most common form of braces. We’ve all seen them at some point, usually in the mouths of teenagers undergoing orthodontic treatment. Traditional braces use metal wire and brackets to achieve results for patients.
Pros of Metal Braces
- Metal braces are usually the most cost-effective option. Years of development and optimization has made the procedure one of the most affordable orthodontic treatments available.
- Metal braces provide predictable results. Their popularity and consistent use over the decades has given dentists and orthodontists tons of data and research. There are relatively few surprises when using traditional metal braces.
- Traditional metal braces are able to treat a wide variety of cases, from simple crooked teeth to heavily crowded teeth. This makes them an excellent one-size-fits-most tool for dentists and orthodontists.
Cons of Metal Braces
- Easily the most noticeable of all the cosmetic options. This is a massive barrier to entry for many patients, particularly adults who require orthodontic treatment.
Ceramic braces function the same as metal braces, but use ceramic brackets and wires to better blend in with the teeth.
Pros of Ceramic Braces
- As effective as metal braces.
- Can treat all of the same complex cases as traditional metal braces.
- Less visible than metal braces.
Cons of Ceramic Braces
- More expensive than traditional metal braces.
- Brackets can stain.
- More care required to keep them clean and white.
Lingual braces go on the back — the “lingual” or tongue side — of your teeth. They still use metal wires and brackets, just in a different place. They’re easily the least common form of braces.
Pros of Lingual Braces
- Almost completely unnoticeable to people you talk to. They’d have to be trying to get a look at the braces to really spot them. This makes them the ultimate braces option for celebrities, models, etc. who need to keep their smiles clear even when undergoing treatment.
Cons of Lingual Braces
- Lingual braces are easily the least comfortable brace to wear. It takes longer to get used to them, and throughout the entire treatment you’ll have something impeding on your tongue.
- Due to their positioning, lingual braces are the hardest t keep clean.
- Lingual braces cannot treat as complex cases as traditional and ceramic braces.
- Adjusting the braces throughout the treatment is difficult and results in longer appointment times.
- Lingual braces are the most expensive braces.
Clear aligners are a relatively recent alternative to dental braces. Rather than fixed wires and brackets, they use clear plastic aligners custom-fit to the patient’s teeth. Every few weeks the aligners are swapped out for a different set to keep the process moving. While these aren’t braces, we thought we’d include them to give a better idea of options out there.
Pros of Clear Aligners
- Transparent plastic, so are almost completely unnoticeable.
- Can be removed at will by the patient. This means there are no special dietary or cleaning regimes — take out the aligners to eat or clean your teeth, then pop them back in.
- Generally more comfortable than braces.
Cons of Clear Aligners
- Aligners rely on the wearer to be diligent with putting the aligners back in after taking them out to eat or clean their teeth. Many patients forget or neglect to replace the aligners, and so treatment time can end up taking longer than with traditional braces.
- More expensive than braces.
- Can be easy to lose and costly to replace.
- Cannot treat complex cases.
For more information, schedule an appointment with Dr. Daisy Alvarenga: Dentist in lake Forest Ca