Straight or well-aligned teeth make you look younger and attractive. People with a good set of teeth are also more confident in their approach, especially in a social scenario. For this very reason, many men and women today are willingly opting to undergo orthodontic treatment to correct any alignment issues they have. However, they are always faced with one dilemma – “How can I straighten my teeth in the most inconspicuous way possible?” Well, most people very obviously want to avoid wearing metallic braces. Due to this demand for less conspicuous braces, newer variants have emerged. Two of those are ceramic braces and clear aligners.
They have both been introduced to solve one main purpose – to do away with the metallic smile! Before we compare the two, let’s look at them individually.
Ceramic or Clear Ceramic Braces
As the name goes, the brackets are made up of ceramic. These ceramic braces can have different shades to match your tooth color and help camouflage them or they are also available in a clear transparent variant. In terms of how they function, they work just like metal braces do. The ceramic brackets are stuck on the teeth and a wire is placed in their slots. For those who are looking for a more inconspicuous look, they can opt for tooth-colored wires.
The ceramic braces have many advantages over traditional metallic braces such as:
- They are less noticeable
- The ceramic braces are more rounded and therefore more comfortable to surrounding soft tissues i.e the lips and gums
- They are more resistant to staining
However, in terms of strength, metal brackets clearly score of the ceramic braces.
If you thought ceramic braces solves people’s problems of ‘getting teeth straightened inconspicuously’, think again! Ceramic braces are definitely far less noticeable than metal braces are, but when at a speaking distance with someone, these braces and the wires are clearly seen. Many people, especially those who work in the public domain or just don’t want to wear anything obvious on their teeth, can opt for clear aligners.
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These are a set of transparent upper and lower trays that need to be worn every day for 22-23 hours, for a specified number of days. Wearing these trays regularly moves teeth into their desired position, thereby straightening out your teeth. As the name goes, they are clear, transparent and are barely noticeable over your teeth. There are no wires and brackets and are a great option for those wanting to align their teeth without showing it.
Now that we got a brief overview of ceramic braces and clear aligners, it brings us to a question that most patients are faced with when it comes to choosing the right type of braces for them.
Ceramic Braces Vs Clear Aligners
- Invisible – While ceramic braces are less conspicuous than metallic ones, clear aligners are completely invisible over upper and lower teeth. The transparent trays are custom-made for each patient and they sit snugly over the patient’s teeth and gums and can be barely seen even up close. However, ceramic braces are clearly visible when a person wearing it is at a conversing distance.
- Fixed Vs Removable – This is the second most important difference between ceramic braces and clear aligners. While ceramic braces are fixed on your teeth and can be removed only by your dentist at the end of your treatment, clear aligners are easily removable. The patients are advised to remove their aligners while eating and during oral hygiene procedures like brushing and flossing.
- Complex Vs Simple cases – Well, this point falls more in favour of ceramic braces. One inherent disadvantage of clear aligners is their inability to treat mild to moderately complex cases. They are commonly used to treat cases such as spacing, overbite, crossbite, overjet, and mild rotations. However, ceramic braces are used to treat a large number of cases, just like metallic braces.
- Oral hygiene procedures- Due to the fixed nature of ceramic braces, it is difficult to maintain good oral hygiene. But, in the case of clear aligners, the patient can continue his/her oral hygiene measures such as brushing and flossing by removing the trays.
- Restrictions on food – Apart from the bad smile that braces generally give an individual, most patients also complain that they are not allowed to eat some of their favourite foods, especially those that are hard or sticky. But, with clear aligners, there are no restrictions on foods that a patient can eat because the trays need to be removed while eating.
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- Staining on your teeth – Ceramic braces by themselves do not get stained. However, other attachments that are used with these braces such as elastic bands, or tooth-coloured wires can get stained and also stain your teeth if you eat certain coloured foods or smoke. However, this is not observed with aligners and they continue to be invisible on your pearly whites.
- Treatment times – Since clear aligners are used for simpler cases, the treatment times observed in patients wearing them is much shorter than those being treated with ceramic braces. However, this difference is case-dependent rather than material-dependent.
On a concluding note…
Now that you have understood about these two types of ‘less-prominent’ orthodontic treatment options, it will become relatively easy to determine which type of braces you would like to pick. Also, your orthodontist will help you make the right choice based on your individual case.
So, what is your orthodontic treatment choice going to be? Ceramic braces or Clear aligners?