Ceramic Braces: The Clear Choice

Patients needing orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth can have a few options available to them. One of the options is the use of ceramic braces. Usually chosen for their aesthetic appeal, ceramic braces cost somewhat more money for the entire treatment than traditional metal braces. However, they work the same way the traditional ones do, even though the overall length of treatment may be extended.

The brackets used in this treatment are made from either polycrystalline or monocrystalline alumina. The former material yields a whitish, tooth-colored bracket while the latter provides a clear, translucent bracket. Both types of brackets are less noticeable than metal brackets, thus their aesthetic appeal. Both materials are used because of their strength and their physical attributes. They are also non-porous and can resist both odors and stains.

The treatment using ceramic or metal brackets is similar. The brackets are bonded to the teeth. A metal archwire is then threaded through the teeth, attached to each bracket by either a thinner wire or a small rubber band. This wire is adjusted monthly to create pressure and guide the teeth into the desired position. Rubber bands can also be used to provide additional pressure in particular areas.

The material used in the brackets is more brittle and delicate than metal, so the orthodontist normally uses less pressure when adjusting the wire. This is to protect both the teeth and the actual brackets, and to try to prevent having to reattach or replace a bracket. The downside to this is that the overall length of the treatment is longer because the process is more delicate. The average time for conventional treatment is about two and a half years, so the treatment using ceramics can be a few months longer.

The ceramic braces cost is also higher than the cost for traditional braces. The higher cost is a result of the longer length of treatment, the more delicate nature of the brackets, which makes them harder to work with, and the higher probability of bracket failure, warranting replacement or reattachment of a bracket during treatment. The cost can range from $6,000 to $8,500. This can be higher or lower depending on the location of the dental office and the complexity of the patient’s case.

A more economical option is to use ceramic brackets only on the most visible teeth, the top six teeth, and metal brackets with the rest of the teeth. Orthodontists do not recommend ceramic braces for all patients. The material that they are made from is harder than tooth enamel and can cause extra deterioration of the teeth when excessive biting contact with the brackets is present. The material is also more expensive, which can make for a prohibitive cost for many patients if ceramic brackets are used on all the teeth. The patient and the orthodontist must discuss all the options to figure out if this is the right choice.

References:

Patel D, Mehta F, Mehta N. Aesthetic orthodontics: an overview. Orthodontic Journal of Nepal. 2014; 4(2): 38-43. https://www.nepjol.info/index.php/OJN/article/download/13897/11269. Acccessed February 4, 2018.

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