Emergency or Otherwise

Orthodontic Choices

Able Dental - Monday, February 02, 2015

So You Need Braces…There are More Choices Than You Might Think



Unlike the “good old days” when train-track braces gave you a smile like the grill of a Buick, todays orthodontic choices leave train-tracks where they belong – with trains! Straightening teeth is a fairly simple concept, but one that improves year by year. Just to give you an idea, in the 1960s, fine wires were used instead of elastics and were twisted tightly. They were uncomfortable, unsightly, they caught food, and they poked into soft tissues. Ouch!


Today, I’m pleased to tell you, brackets are much smaller and more efficient. They are fastened on the tooth’s surface with special adhesives. Each bracket has a raised track with a horizontal notch to hold an arc wire, a guide that keeps teeth right on track as they gradually move into place. What coaxes teeth along are ligatures, tiny elastics that hook onto the bracket and pull teeth along the guiding arc wire, little by little.

Different Types of Braces

Straightening your teeth has many benefits, but it still takes a commitment, so I like to make sure that my patients understand what they can expect from the different types that are available. Here are some contemporary options – I think you’ll agree with me that there’s really something for everyone.

Ceramic Brackets

– Made of composite materials that are matched to the color of your teeth, ceramic brackets are almost invisible to the casual observer. What you see is the single arc wire following the midline of your smile. Elastic ligatures are either white or transparent, adding to the invisible effect, and though ligatures can discolor a little with time, they are changed regularly, so in my experience, that hasn’t been an issue for my patients.

Invisible Braces

– Not for severe orthodontic issues, these “braces” are not braces at all! Think of a thin trim transparent mouthguard and you have the picture. Most people will not know you have them on. Teeth are coaxed into place in small increments using a series of alignment trays. They can be taken out for photos, eating, and brushing, and you can actually play a musical instrument with them on. In my experience, self-conscious teens like them and so do busy adults.

Lingual Braces

– These braces are fastened behind your teeth out of view and are generally made of metal. Only you and your dentist will know you are wearing braces.

Look-At-Me Braces

– When the elastic ligature system replaced the use of old-style metallic wires, little thought was given to the appearance of early elastics. They were made to blend in and be discreet, but I’ve noticed lately that not everyone wants to be inconspicuous! Choose your color: pink, blue, purple, orange, green … or even mix and match to make them a celebration and a personal statement.

Who knows what the future will bring. Maybe elastics will be both colored and flavored, to not just look cool, but to offer minty-fresh breath! But no matter what kind of braces you choose, you are making the commitment to straightening your teeth, a pledge to improved oral health, appearance, and self-esteem. If you think you’re ready to take the first step, I’ll be happy to see you for a personal consultation and answer any of your questions. Give me a call!

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