Several kinds of orthodontic braces can be used to reposition teeth. Metal brackets and ceramic brackets are two of the most popular types of dental braces. Patients can choose from ceramic braces, plastic (clear braces), or stainless steel (metal braces). Stainless steel is a practical material, and the most common, but ceramic or plastic can be used for cosmetic purposes.
Before you decide on a method of treatment, you should always check with your orthodontist to find out what kinds of orthodontic braces are offered, and what dental insurance plans are accepted.
Generally the most economical option, traditional metal braces may also be required for those needing extensive realignment. Your orthodontist will advise you whether metal orthodontic braces are necessary for your treatment.
Ceramic braces utilize less noticeable brackets for patients concerned about the appearance of their smile. Ceramic brackets are translucent, so they blend in with your natural tooth color. This means that, unlike traditional stainless metal braces, ceramic braces won’t make your smile look "metallic." In addition, ceramic braces are designed so that they won't stain or discolor over long periods of time. An orthodontist can let you know if you are a candidate for ceramic braces.
Some dental offices offer clear braces. The brackets are made of pure monocrystalline sapphire, which makes the clear braces practically see-through - except for the arch wire. The closest thing to invisible braces currently available is the Invisalign® system. The patented Invisalign® trays straighten teeth effectively, yet are virtually unnoticeable.
Lingual braces are attached to the back side of the teeth, which makes them completely non-visible. This advanced method makes lingual orthodontics particularly well-suited for adults, who often want to improve the look and function of their teeth without letting anyone else know about their treatment.
Retainers are orthodontic appliances made from plastic and stainless steel wire which is used to hold a patient's teeth in place after their braces are removed. The retainer holds the teeth in their new position as the surrounding gums and bone adjust around them. The amount of time the retainer must be worn varies, but many orthodontists recommend teenagers wear their retainers into their early 20s.