What are Braces & Aligners? Its types and Frequently Asked Questions?

Braces and aligners are new age orthodontic devices. The purpose of orthodontic treatment is mainly concerned with the correction of a bite along with the aesthetics of a patient. Listed below are various reasons when orthodontic treatment is usually recommended.

Braces and Aligners

  • Overcrowding of teeth in an arch
  • Cross-bite
  • Spacing between adjacent teeth
  • For realignment of teeth
  • Over-bite
  • Speech impediment
  • To straighten teeth.
  • Open bite

So if you notice any of these things in your mouth, then don’t wait to book an orthodontic appointment for you!

What are the Braces?

Braces are orthodontic devices that may either be made up of metal or porcelain, used to align and straighten teeth. They are used to position teeth according to the  patient’s bite.

In braces, metal wires and rubber bands provide the required force for the movement of teeth into the correct position.

Colorful Braces

Braces

What are the Types of Braces?

Nowadays, a variety of braces are available from which patients can pick one according to his/her comfort and budget. These are

  • Metal braces
  • Ceramic braces
  • Self-ligating braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Clear aligners

Metal Braces

These are traditional braces that are used worldwide. These are the commonest type of braces. To reduce the bulk of these braces, certain advancements have been made like a reduction in their size. This resulted in their improved efficacy, enhanced patient’s comfort and also made them rapid-acting. Other benefits of using metal braces include.

  • Less expensive compared to others.
  • Produce better results.
  • Do not interfere with the speech of the patient.
  • Different shades and colors are available.

But in a survey concerning patient compliance with metal braces, various shortcomings were noted. Some of them are:-

  1. Patients with metal braces find it difficult to brush and clean their teeth. Improper cleaning of teeth results in their decay as well. Patients with metal braces are more prone to caries. Special brushes are used by such patients for effective cleaning.
  1. Many patients find such braces embarrassing to wear. Metal braces pose a serious appearance problem for many patients.

Ceramic Braces

These include transparent, tooth –colored  braces. They match the color of the teeth, thus maintaining the aesthetics of the patient. These can be seen as a good alternative to metal braces. But like metal braces, they too possess disadvantages that can not be overlooked like

  1. These are heavier than metal braces, thus resulting in patient discomfort.
  2. According to some studies, it has been observed that ceramic braces resulted in staining of teeth in patients with poor oral hygiene .

Self-Ligating Braces

These braces are available as metal or clear braces. These are self-adjustable braces. These types of braces are indicated insensitive and uncooperative patients who find it hard to sit in dental chairs for longer duration.  The main advantage is it require less number of appointments.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are like conventional braces only, except for the fact that these are used on lingual surfaces of teeth or the back of the tongue. A longer treatment period and initial lisping of speech are some of the major drawbacks of lingual braces.

What are aligners?

Aligners are a special type of braces, made up of plastic. These are custom made braces that fit the teeth. Like in metal braces, rubber bands are used to provide force to help the teeth move in correct position, here small pieces of the composite are used. Aligners are the best choice for those patients who feel shy or embarrassed wearing metal braces.

Aligners invisible braces

Woman wearing invisible braces.

Advantages of aligners are:-

Aesthetics

Aligners are transparent, custom made braces that not only help to straighten out the tooth but also the composite good appearance of the patient.\

Meals

Unlike other braces, which cannot be removed while having a meal, aligners are removable braces that patients can remove while having food. So, with aligners, you can enjoy your favorite meals without any worries!

Comfort Level

Aligners are more comfortable than any other braces. They are lightweight and less bulky than metal braces.

Regardless of these advantages, there are certain loopholes in aligners as well that make them less favourable. These are

Expensive

Unlike metal braces, aligners are quite expensive. The high cost of aligners is one of the major reasons behind their being less popular among the masses.

Have to be Cleaned Manually

One has to remove aligners and clean them every day to prevent food lodgement in them and to maintain their transparency.

Precision

As stated earlier, aligners are a type of braces only but still, these cannot be used to correct all complex situations. Also, they do not give as precise results as obtained with metal braces.

Which one is Better, Braces or Aligners?

Both braces and aligners have got their advantages and disadvantages. Here are some points that one should not ignore before going for orthodontic treatment.

Cost

Since aligners are custom made devices i.e. every person using aligners have a different set for them, this raises their cost to 2-3 times higher than that of metal braces. In Canada average cost of braces is $3,000 to $6,000 whereas the average cost of aligners is $7,000 to $12,000.

Comfort

When it comes to comfort, aligners are the best option that comes to anyone’s mind. Unlike braces, they do not cause any pain to the patient and can be removed while eating. The chances of tooth decay are far less in aligners than in braces because these can be easily cleaned.

Aesthetics

In braces, especially metal braces, the aesthetics of the person are greatly affected, quite ironic to the fact that braces are used to enhance the aesthetics of the person. As aligners are made of transparent materials, they do not pose many problems.

Complication of braces

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Braces & Aligners

Question 1. Why does Orthodontic Treatment take such a Long Period?

This is probably the first the question that comes to peoples’ minds undergoing orthodontic treatment. Well, the braces cause movement in the teeth every day by exerting pressure on the teeth. Braces have a slow shifting speed that’s why they require a long time to show their activities and thus have to be worn for longer periods.

Question 2. Are Braces Painful?

Usually, patients do not experience any pain while braces are inserted in the mouth but a few days after the treatment, patients may experience throbbing pain which can be treated by prescribing analgesics (pain killers).

Question 3. Is there any Age Limit for Braces?

This is a false notion among the masses that braces can be worn only by children or adolescents and not by people of older age groups. Braces are meant to straighten out your tooth and improve your bite. As long as one has healthy teeth and gums one can undergo successful Orthodontic treatment.

Question 4. Do Aligners work Faster than Braces?

Yes, it indeed takes lesser time for aligners to correct the malposition of the teeth. In braces it nearly takes 14-18 months, it only takes 12 months with an aligners.

Question 5. What are Mini Braces?

Mini braces are newer advancements in the world of orthodontics. These are better versions of traditional braces. They have a shorter duration  of treatment and occupy lesser space in the mouth. It does not cover all the teeth in the arch.

Conclusion

Both braces and aligners have their own set of cons and pros and one should keep all these points in mind before going for any of them.

References

Premkumar, S. (n.d.). Essentials of Orthodontics-E Book. India: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Orthodontic Bonding: Review of the Literature. (2020). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7376407/

Dr Deepak Kansal

Dr Deepak Kansal is a dentist, who is currently working in Sri Ganganagar. He did his Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Rajasthan University of Health Science.

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