Getting braces can be an enormous decision with many choices to make which can impact on both the cost and the end result. One of the decisions which must be made is the type of braces treatment which is best for straightening your teeth. This article discusses the most common forms of orthodontic treatment which are available for patients with crooked teeth or irregular spacing.
The type of braces that you end up choosing will largely depend on your budget and also your personal desires. Braces for children are often less costly than for adults, since children's teeth and bones are still in developing stages and can be more quickly and easily realigned. As for adults, the cost of braces is higher since orthodontic teeth straightening takes longer. Also many adults consider a more 'invisible' form of braces which further increases the cost.
Standard Metal Bracket Braces
The traditional metal braces are those which you commonly see on the teeth of children and adolescents. They are comprised of metal brackets joined by a metal wire. Whilst they are usually the cheapest option, they are also the most conspicuous and unsightly. The metal braces have been around for decades and can provide possibly the best orthodontic alignment benefit since they can be fully adjusted (as opposed to aligners such as Invisalign, which can only treat mild to moderate malocclusion and often need to be followed by traditional braces to properly align the teeth).
Metal braces can be customized with colored or ceramic brackets, which can make them more aesthetically pleasing. Ceramic brackets do cost more, however they are made to match the color of the patient's teeth and accordingly are less noticeable than the traditional metal type. Teenagers and children often opt for colored brackets and/or elastics to suit their personality and make the process a little more fun. There is a wide variety of colors available and also patients can further modify their brackets by selecting letters, images or symbols.
Teeth straightening with traditional metal braces typically take around eighteen to twenty four months on average. In more extreme cases (for example where there is overbite or underbite) the treatment can take longer.
Clear Aligner Trays
A more cosmetic alternative to having braces are plastic aligner trays such as Invisalign. These are made of clear plastic and sit over the patient's teeth. Since the trays are clear, others can hardly tell that the person is receiving orthodontic treatment. The trays are removable and need to be taken off for eating or drinking fluids other than water. The removability also allows for more thorough cleaning of the teeth than with bonded bracket braces. New aligner trays are made approximately fortnightly throughout the treatment.
A downside of the aligners is that the treatment can only deal with mild to moderate orthodontic problems and accordingly Invisalign may not be appropriate for all patients. Also, patients need to wear the aligners for a minimum amount of time throughout the day. If the program is not followed the treatment time can be prolonged, adding to the cost of braces.
Invisalign provides an alternate option to the unsightly traditional braces and can even be cheaper in some instances (since they can be provided by a dentist rather than an orthodontist). However, in most cases, Invisalign is more expensive than standard metal braces.
Lingual or Invisible Braces
Another way to hide braces is by getting them placed on the back of your teeth. This is referred to as lingual braces since they are positioned on the lingual (tongue) side of the teeth. Whilst they can be more uncomfortable for the patient, they are an ideal option for those who wish to hide their braces but are unsuitable candidates for Invisalign treatment. Lingual braces are much more expensive than traditional braces which go on the front of the teeth. This is because lingual braces require orthodontists to undertake further training to bond and adjust the brackets from the reverse side.
Many adults consider spending the extra money for lingual braces since they deem it inappropriate for them to wear braces in their adulthood, especially if they are in a professional role or are self-conscious about their image. Lingual braces for children are not as necessary since most teenagers are wearing standard bracket braces anyway.
If you are considering braces, you need to research the options which are available and which treatment is most suitable for you and your budget. Having straight and healthy teeth can not only prevent further dental costs (not being able to clean crooked teeth properly, problems with overbite and teeth grinding), it can also help boost one's self-esteem and confidence. When determining which types of braces are best for you or your child, make sure to research your options thoroughly. Talk to your dentist, family and friends who have had braces and read online reviews.
With financing, get a thorough quote upfront to ensure you don't step outside your budget. Remember that often the retainer period is charged separately. There are options available for paying for your braces. For example, your orthodontist may offer a payment plan with an initial down payment. You may also consider looking into health care insurance or joining a health savings plan such as Ameriplan. In some limited circumstances, braces treatment can be covered by Medicaid, however this would only apply to the standard braces as opposed to the more lavish options such as lingual and Invisalign.
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