Invisible braces are an innovative orthodontic solution that has emerged to meet the patient need for braces that were more attractive than traditional metal braces. Patients who wear invisible braces report increased self-esteem and greater confidence in themselves and their appearance. Not all patients are a candidate for invisible braces, but those for whom they are a good fit tend to become huge fans immediately once they realize there will be no metal brackets scraping the inside of their mouths and they will not look so much like a stereotypical teenager with a mouthful of metal.
Patients who have complicated bite issues are more than likely better off being treated with traditional metal braces. Others, however, can benefit greatly from invisible braces, including the following:
• Adults and older teenagers who have no more baby teeth to lose
• Those with an overbite and overjet
• Those with wide spaces between their teeth or crowded teeth
• Those who are both willing and able to adhere exactly to the treatment schedule
Varieties of Invisible Braces
There are several different varieties of invisible braces, including ceramic brackets, clear aligners, and inside brackets. Below is a brief overview of each type of invisible braces and how they work.
the most well-known version of this treatment is called Invisalign and is from Align Technologies. With these braces, the patient wears clear plastic aligners that are custom-made from impressions taken of the patient’s teeth. The patient’s aligners are made by a laboratory using special CAD/CAM technology and then sent back to the orthodontist to be administered. Each set of aligners is worn for a period of approximately 2 weeks before changing to a new set, with most patients receiving 20-30 aligners in all over the course of treatment. They are more comfortable than traditional braces with their wires and brackets, and research has proven that they are effective. Because they are clear, they are nearly invisible and are therefore quite popular with our patients. Our patients also appreciate that they carry very few (if any) food restrictions. Clear aligners are also removable, which makes it much easier to brush and floss, drink beverages other than water, and eat. So long as the patient wears the aligners for a minimum of 20 hours per day, they can take them out for special occasions. Some disadvantages include the fact that removable aligners are also easy to misplace or forget to wear, they must be administered by a specially trained orthodontist, they can cause mild pain when the patient “graduates” to a new level of aligners, and they may necessitate the purchase of specialized cleaning and/or maintenance products. Patients must attend regular appointments with their orthodontist to receive their newest sets of aligners and check to see how the treatment is progressing.
Ceramic braces – made of composite materials, these are the weakest form of braces, which means that your treatment time would be longest with this option. They are generally larger than metal brackets and they are held to the arch wire by means of tiny rubber bands, or ligatures. These ligatures are swapped out every time the patient comes in for their monthly visit, but the overall bracket structure is non-removable until the conclusion of treatment. Ceramic braces can make it harder to complete oral hygiene tasks like flossing and brushing your teeth as well as eating and drinking. Additionally, they are certainly more expensive than traditional metal braces. Because of this, some patients choose to have ceramic braces attached to only their most important/highly visible teeth and to use traditional metal brackets on the rest. There is also the rare possibility with this option that the lower ceramic brackets might erode or abrade some of the upper front teeth if they come into contact with them.
Inside braces – also known as iBraces, these braces attach to the back side of a patient’s teeth. Your orthodontist will gather specialized information using a scanning device that will tell where the brackets should be positioned on the upper and lower teeth. They are fixed to the inside of the mouth, meaning that they cannot be lost or forgotten. Due to the fact that the materials are assembled in conjunction with a specialized computer program, this option is sometimes more expensive than traditional metal braces. Inside braces can also pose difficulties when it comes to eating, speaking, flossing, and brushing.
How Long Will I Be In Treatment with Invisible Braces?
Every patient’s situation is unique, and every treatment plan is unique too. The only way to know for sure how long your treatment will take is to get a consultation with a trained orthodontist.
That being said, the average length of time that patients are in treatment is 18-24 months. Treatment times are also influenced by the type of invisible braces being worn. For example, metal braces, which are the strongest type of braces, take less time than ceramic braces, which are weaker. Clear plastic aligners, such as Invisalign, are worn for 2 weeks at a time and with 20-30 aligners per patient, treatment can last anywhere from 9-15 months.