Conventional dental braces have been a very effective and popular orthodontic device for correcting a wide range of orthodontic defects like misaligned teeth, crooked teeth, teeth with excessive or uneven gaps etc. One of the problems associated with braces was poor aesthetics due to their metallic appearance. Naturally, people who were conscious of their smile and appearance did not like wearing braces, except under compulsions.
The braces were a rather un-aesthetic way of improving dental aesthetics. Orthodontists and technologists realized this problem and have come up with some alternative orthodontic solutions which are invisible to various degrees. If you are not happy with wearing conventional steel braces but need orthodontic correction, you can look at the alternatives below.
1. Lingual Orthodontics
To move the archwire and the brackets out of sight of people, dentists can give you braces with the archwire and the brackets on the tongue-side (or lingual side) of the teeth. That is why these are called lingual braces. Lingual braces are aesthetically far superior to the conventional braces and are particularly popular with adults because they are more conscious of their looks.
The downside of Lingual Braces
- Inconvenience – despite being less conspicuous, lingual braces do pose some handicaps as the brackets come in between the tongue and the teeth. As a result, the tongue movement is hampered because of the reduced space available, and you will also feel a little odd for some time.
- Difficulty in Playing instruments – Also, if you play wind instruments, you may have some difficulty operating them with lingual braces.
- Special Training Required – Not all dentists are trained in providing treatment with lingual braces. Special training is required in addition to the basic dentistry degree to be able to apply lingual orthodontics.
2. Clear Brackets with Tooth Coloured Wires
This is yet another cosmetic alternative to the standard braces. The archwire is made tooth coloured to reduce its visibility against the background formed by your teeth. And the brackets are made of transparent plastic or tooth coloured ceramic so that they are not noticed. In addition, clear or transparent ligatures are used to enhance aesthetics. Generally, the ceramic brackets are designed in such a way that they do not stain easily. However, the ligatures tend to stain easily, but this is not a big issue as they will be replaced on each visit.
The Price of Improved Aesthetics with Ceramic Braces
Ceramic clear braces are weaker than the conventional metallic braces. Therefore, they require a longer treatment time as orthodontists apply milder forces to make sure that the brackets are not overloaded. In addition, treatment with ceramic braces is costlier as compared to the conventional metallic braces.
3. Invisalign Clear Aligners
In the category of orthodontic teeth alignment appliances, the Invisalign™ aligners sit at the top of the lot. A product created by engineering and dental technology the Invisalign is very popular. It has really taken the orthodontic field by a storm.
How Invisalign Works
The treatment consists of wearing a custom-made plastic aligner looking like a teeth guard for two (or one week, in some cases) which moves your teeth through a pre-planned shift. Then the next numbered aligner is put on for a similar period. Successively numbered aligners move your teeth through pre-determined stages, and by the time you remove your last aligner your teeth have moved as planned to give you an excellent smile.
How You Get the Invisalign Aligners
At the start, the dentist takes impressions, photos, and x-rays of your teeth as they are. The impressions are digitized into a computer software which can display these in 3-D. Another specialized software helps the dentist plan a gradual movement plan for your teeth again showing the teeth in their intermediate stages, and the final stage (which you can see). This plan is fed to a computer-aided machining system which makes two to three dozen of numbered aligners which when worn continuously, and in turn, move through the planned stages.
A retainer, another appliance like the last aligner, is worn for about six months to consolidate the tooth movement already achieved. This retainer practice is common with the braces correction.
Merits of Invisalign Aligners
The Invisalign has multiple merits compared to the braces. These are:
- Invisibility This is the chief merit in the eyes of smile-conscious adults.
- Convenience – It is very convenient to put on and remove for cleaning and eating.
- No Fortnightly Visits- Fortnightly or monthly visits to the dentist are also not required as in cases of braces of all types.
- Preview – The beauty of treatment with Invisalign is that you can see beforehand what your teeth and smile will look like at the end of your treatment. That is the miracle of leading-edge technology and software engineering.
Invisalign is the rage of orthodontics today but has some limitations also.
- Limited correction range – Only mild to moderate cases of misalignment or malocclusion can be corrected with Invisalign. For more complex cases, treatment with traditional braces is required.
- Cost of Treatment -The cost of treatment with Invisalign, in comparison to other orthodontic treatment modalities, is high.
The Bottom Line
All orthodontic treatment modalities have their own merits and demerits. If you have an orthodontic problem, consult a good orthodontist. In case of mild to moderate orthodontic problems, and if there are no technical limitations, Invisalign gives the best value for your money. However, for more complex cases, conventional or lingual braces will prove to be more useful.