Ceramic braces, or clear dental braces, are similar to traditional metal braces in that they use brackets to straighten the teeth in orthodontic treatment. Rather than metal, these brackets consist of tooth-colored ceramic that blends in with your teeth making your braces far less noticeable. Made from a glass-like composite material, ceramic braces allow your teeth to shine through. Ceramic braces are available in varying levels of transparency, giving you the options of several natural tooth colors, as well as clear brackets. All brackets are designed to resist stains. The small ceramic pieces are glued to each individual tooth and bound with a plasma light for superior adhesion. A small wire across the teeth connects the brackets, much the same as traditional braces. Clear brackets are made of monocrystalline alumina, while tooth-colored brackets are made of polycrystalline alumina. These non-porous compounds are ultra-strong with good aesthetic properties. The best choice for you will depend on your natural tooth color.
Ceramic Clear Dental Braces are Popular!
Ceramic braces have risen in popularity due to being so much less visible than metal braces. Many older teens and adults prefer ceramic braces because they are visually less prominent. Typically, only the archwire is visible, so it appears that you are merely wearing an orthodontic retainer. Tooth-colored wire is available for an even more discreet look. In fact, actor Tom Cruise wore ceramic braces at the premiere of his movie, Minority Report.
With ceramic braces, the rubber bands (ligatures) used to hold the archwires are usually white or clear. These bands can stain, however, they are changed out once a month, so staining is generally not a problem. White metal ties that provide a stronger bind may be used, eliminating the need for elastic bands. Avoiding staining agents such as tobacco, curry, and coffee will minimize the risk of the bands becoming stained. Colorful bands are also an option and will aid in keeping your ceramic braces stain-free.
Ceramic braces were originally developed from a material designed by the NASA space program, and have steadily improved since their introduction in 1987. They have become sturdier and the bonding process used to attach the brackets has progressed in recent years. Although they are much more durable now, ceramic braces still aren’t as strong as metal braces. Adjustments may need to be made more slowly in order to ensure that the brackets stay in tact, therefore treatment time can be longer. The brackets are slightly larger than metal brackets. As with metal braces, patients usually experience some discomfort during the first two weeks of treatment due to gum or cheek irritation.
Ceramic braces are usually more expensive, so some patients opt to use them on only the most visible teeth, while using metal braces on the remaining teeth that need straightening. This allows the patient to enjoy the benefit of the less visible ceramic braces and the durability and lower cost of the traditional braces. Because the ceramic used in orthodontic brackets is harder than tooth enamel, patients with certain bites in which the brackets would touch the overlapping teeth are not recommended for ceramic braces on both top and bottom teeth.
Popular brands of ceramic clear dental braces include:
- Clarity- made by 3M Unitek
- Transcend- made by 3M Unitek
- Mystique- made by GAC
Advantages of ceramic clear dental braces include:
- Far less noticeable than metal braces
- Many patients feel they experience less gum irritation than with metal braces
- Less expensive than other low visibility braces
- One office visit per month
Disadvantages of ceramic clear dental braces are:
- More expensive than traditional braces
- Clear/white ligatures are susceptible to stains (although, these are changed monthly)
- Treatment may take longer
- In severe cases, may not be suited to withstand treatment
Maintaining Ceramic Clear Dental Braces
Because they are light in color, ceramic clear dental braces require some extra care to keep them looking their best. No one wants to wear yellow braces, so following some simple tips can help you maintain the integrity of your braces.
Keep them clean: Brush your teeth after every meal and at the end of the day. Floss at least once per day. Food stuck in your braces can cause stains. An electric toothbrush is extremely helpful in keeping your braces clean.
Do not use whitening toothpaste: This will only whiten the portions of your teeth not covered by your braces, risking the possibility of darker spots underneath when your braces come off.
Be careful with makeup: Be sure no lipstick gets smudged on your bracket surfaces.
Brush teeth immediately after eating colorful foods: Foods such as berries, mustard, spaghetti sauce, coffee, and other dark foods or liquids can stain your ceramic braces. Drink water with meals to help rinse your mouth, then brush your teeth as soon as you can afterward. You may want to avoid certain foods altogether to minimize the risk of staining.
Do not smoke: Smoking discolors teeth, as well as the color of ceramic braces.
Keep your orthodontic appointments: Your ligatures (elastic bands) will be replaced at each visit, giving you a fresh look. Skipping appointments will also set back your progress.
Similar to metal braces, there are foods that you should avoid to protect your braces. Hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky foods can damage ceramic braces and should be avoided. If you play sports, be sure to wear a mouth guard any time you engage in sports activities.
Our goal at the RxSmile Frisco orthodontics office with Dr. Greg Greenberg is to provide highly personalized and comprehensive orthodontic care for our families in the Frisco-Plano metropolitan area. If you have questions about braces and would like to make an appointment with our orthodontist, Dr. Greg Greenberg, please call 972 335 1300 Monday through Thursday, or submit an online appointment request and we will respond within one business day.