Not everyone is born with teeth that are perfectly aligned right from the start. For some people, the simple act of smiling can become a source of frustration because they are always self-conscious about the crooked or crowded appearance of their teeth, or about their overbite. And such dental issues become prominent during the childhood years, so young ones tend to become embarrassed about their smile, fearing that they will get relentlessly teased about it.
These early years are also often the most ideal time to address these dental issues, and unfortunately, in much earlier times, traditional metal braces were the best solutions available. So it was highly common to see adolescents, who were already wrestling with their developing bodies and minds, with metal brackets all over the teeth to add to their worries.
There was no question that the braces were necessary to correct their teeth, but in the two years or so that they had to wear them, some teasing and ribbing about their dental devices was inevitable. You can imagine how relieved these young ones became once the metal braces were finally taken off and they saw, in the following years, how perfectly aligned their teeth have become.
Fortunately, there are a number of options that young people and adults alike can consider when it comes to improving their smile. A variety of invisible braces can now be used to help people achieve a smile they can proudly flash to others, without the appearance and discomfort of traditional metal braces.
There are three kinds of invisible solutions that you can choose from:
Ceramic braces. These are just like conventional metal braces, except that they come in tooth-coloured brackets and even wires that “blend” into the teeth, so they are not as visible.
While they do offer a less noticeable solution than metal braces, keep in mind that ceramic braces are made of composite materials that are less durable than metal, and thus require a longer treatment time because they can only apply a more gradual force to adjust the teeth. They are also typically more expensive than metal braces.
Lingual braces. Also called inside braces, these devices get their name from being braces that are attached to the back of the teeth instead of the front, so they are hidden from view. They are fixed and not removable, like metal and ceramic braces.
The disadvantages of lingual braces include higher cost compared to metal braces because orthodontists need to perform computer customisation to make the brackets. And because the braces are attached closer to the tongue, they can impair speech, and it can be difficult to maintain dental hygiene and feel comfortable with these braces.
Clear aligners. Invisalign is a popular example of this type of invisible brace. It’s a series of clear plastic removable aligners that are custom-fit to the patient’s teeth and are replaced every two weeks. Being clear plastic, the aligners are hardly noticeable, and because they can be removed when eating, brushing, or during certain occasions when the user may be uncomfortable having them on, they also give the user more freedom and comfort.
The downside to clear aligners is that the treatment may take longer, since they can be removed quite often (especially if the wearer becomes lax about putting them on). It can be a little painful or uncomfortable to put on new sets of aligners, because pressure is exerted on the teeth for adjustment. They are also relatively expensive and can only be obtained from orthodontists who are trained and certified by the manufacturer to offer them to patients.
Before deciding on any of these options, it’s always best to extensively consult your dentist and orthodontist to determine the most fitting type of braces for your specific dental needs.