How To choose the best braces for your budget and lifestyle
Back in the day, the best braces meant painful metal wires, brackets, and (not) fun nicknames, like metal mouth. Not to mention, you had to be incredibly careful about flying footballs and elbows near your face (think putting your lip through a cheese grater). But nowadays, there are several choices for braces, so you can find the best fit.
Metal braces (“The Classic”)
Here we’ve got your traditional, run-of-the-mill braces: metal wires, metal brackets, and you get to pick your rubber band color. They’re the least expensive and the most noticeable, but today’s models have smaller brackets than the old days. Plus, ever heard of archwires? They’re heat-sensitive wires that flex from your mouth’s temperature to straighten your teeth more quickly – and less rigidity means less pain.
Ceramic braces (“The Chameleon”)
These are basically the same as regular braces, but instead of metal brackets, ceramic braces have clear or tooth-colored brackets. That way, your hardware blends into your mouth better. While a little spendier than their metal counterparts, ceramic braces balance cost and style quite well. You’ll also need to put more effort into the care and keeping of your ceramic braces, as they’re easier to stain with food and dark drinks.
Lingual braces (“The Behind-the-Scenes”)
If your case isn’t severe enough for regular metal braces or ceramic braces, you could try lingual braces. The metal wires and brackets go on the inside of your teeth, so no one except you and your dentist will know you have them! With all these perks, however, there are a few more things to consider than your usual braces:
- They’re tougher to clean
- Adjustments at the dentist are more difficult and take longer, because they’re on the inside of your teeth
- More expensive than traditional and ceramic braces
- They don’t work for every instance of crooked teeth
Invisalign (“The Deluxe”)
Arguably the Mercedes of orthodontia, Invisalign is a set of 18-30 custom-molded, plastic retainers that cover every tooth. Think of a clear and much (much) thinner version of your night or sport mouth guard. While this option is normally the most attractive to teens and adults – by the way, Invisalign won’t work for kids – it probably has the most hoops to jump through to make sure it’s right for you.
Some orthodontia cases will not be appropriate for Invisalign, namely the more severe ones. Invisalign is also the most expensive. Plus, with hardware that’s so easy to remove (did we mention is a little bit invisible?), people tend to lose them easily. Finally, treatment may take longer than traditional or ceramic braces, because the material is softer than metal, and there are many increments to get to the end of your custom-fit series.
Why get braces at all?
Braces might be tough to wear, clean, and show off for your school picture sometimes, but they’re important for more than simply cosmetic reasons. They can help reduce plaque and gingivitis, because straight teeth are easier to clean. Finding the best braces fit can also help reduce jaw pain and other structural problems by aligning each tooth with its upstairs/downstairs buddy. Teeth that fit together, create a beautiful smile together!