While researching options for teeth straightening, many patients consider the use of clear braces instead of traditional metal braces. There are pros and cons to each option. Before making a decision, learning more about the differences between clear braces options and traditional teeth straightening can help patients decide which route works for their circumstances.Traditional metal…
Ask a Dentist: How Long Do Clear Braces Last?
Clear braces use tooth-colored or clear brackets to blend in with the teeth. Made with polycrystalline alumina, the brackets tend to be more subtle than traditional metal braces. Like traditional braces, a patient's teeth move due to the bracket and archwire mechanism. However, ceramic brackets require an elastic cord rather than a conventional metal wire to connect and straighten the teeth. The dentist tightens the brackets and wire or cord to put pressure on the teeth. Patients often choose ceramic braces for their more discreet appearance compared to traditional braces.
Duration expectations for clear braces patients
When choosing braces, most patients worry about the length of time it may take to straighten their teeth. Since braces do not provide instant results, there are several factors to consider when judging how long ceramic braces last. In addition to how long the treatment takes, patients need to know whether the clear braces will last until the end of the treatment.
Common damage done to ceramic braces
Ceramic braces are slightly less durable than traditional metal braces. They may be more likely to break during everyday actions, such as biting down. For patients who participate in contact sports or take part in public speaking or singing, ceramic braces may be more fragile and crack or chip.
While patients can still eat a wide range of foods, they have to practice care. The brackets and wires may bend or dislodge because of hard foods. Patients should try to avoid hard candy, fudge, or any sticky and chewy foods. Pretzels and chips may also become trapped between the wires and damage the braces or cause a buildup of plaque.
One of the common motivations for choosing clear braces is the fact that they are clear and discreet. However, their light coloring makes them prone to staining. To avoid staining, patients should steer clear of coffee, cigarettes, red or purple foods. Beets, blackberries, and tomato-based soups may stain the braces.
Factors behind the treatment duration
The length of time a patient has braces depends on the following:
- Condition severity
- Oral maintenance
On average, patients complete the treatment within 24 months. The severity of misalignment can dictate how long it takes for the treatment to work. Likewise, a patient's age affects the timeline. The jaws are still developing in younger patients and make dental manipulation easier. Patients who mind the dentist's orders, maintain oral hygiene, and make appointments for maintenance may finish treatment earlier than patients who do not follow instructions. Additionally, if the patient damages or breaks clear braces, it takes extra time to fix and continue the treatment.
Clear braces are a discreet alternative to traditional metal braces. Along with ceramic, clear, or tooth-colored brackets, patients have a choice between gray, frosted, or white cording to reduce the appearance of the braces on their teeth. To effectively straighten teeth, wearing clear braces may be necessary for about one year and a half up to three years.
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