Metal vs. Clear Braces: Is there any difference?

girl with braces

Braces have changed a lot since you were a kid. They’re no longer the obtrusive and obvious system of wires that pull your teeth into alignment. Over the years, dental technology has improved braces to be more effective, more inconspicuous, and faster-acting. If you’re considering a procedure to straighten your or your child’s teeth, you might be looking into the difference between metal vs. clear braces.

What are Metal and Clear Braces?

Traditional metal braces are still the go-to method for reliable orthodontic work, but they have gotten more sleek and comfortable than in the past. Other types of braces have proven similar effectiveness but are hardly noticeable on your teeth. “Clear” braces aren’t an exact type, but braces can be made with materials like plastic and ceramic that appear clear or barely visible. 

“Clear braces” could also refer to clear trays used to straighten teeth without brackets or wires, like Invisalign. These straightening systems are nearly invisible and can be just as effective as traditional braces in many situations. 

Of these options, will one straighten your teeth better than another? What are the differences and benefits of each type? Let’s answer these questions and more as we explore the difference between metal vs. clear braces. 

The Difference Between Metal vs. Clear Braces

When choosing a type of braces for you or your child you might be considering different factors, such as which will be the least noticeable, the most affordable, or work the most quickly. The most important factor to consider is, of course, effectiveness. Different types of braces — such as metal vs. “clear” braces — may be more effective than others. Let’s look at the main differences between these varieties and the advantages they offer.

Metal Braces

Metal braces are what you imagine when you think of traditional braces. They use metal brackets that are attached to individual teeth. A metal wire connects the brackets and is secured into place with a plastic band. To adjust the alignment of your teeth, your dentist will lengthen or shorten the wire in gradual increments until the teeth are snug in place. 

Metal braces are visible, and can make some feel self-conscious about their appearance, particularly teens. You have the option to personalize them with colored bands, but they can still stand out. They are a part of the patient’s life for about two years of treatment, depending on the amount of work to be done. They require visits to the dentist about once per month to be adjusted.

Advantages of Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are best where more correction is needed. Their durable structure and material hold up for bigger adjustments, meaning treatment can move along at a good pace. Metal braces don’t require a lot of maintenance, just regular careful brushing and flossing. The advantage of metal braces is that they are always working. You don’t have to remember to put them in or take them out. This makes it easy to keep up with treatment and secure lasting results.

Clear Braces

“Clear” braces are similar to metal braces, but they use ceramic or clear plastic in place of metal wires and brackets. This makes them blend better with the surface of the tooth and are much less noticeable. Clear brackets and bands are recommended where teeth are bright and light-colored, where color-matched ceramic can be blended more effectively with darker teeth.

Benefits of Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces work well for cases of light correction. The material is less strong than metal, so ceramic braces are not recommended for those who have regular forceful contact against their teeth, like in contact sports, for example. Because of their reduced strength, adjustments with ceramic braces are made in slightly smaller increments than metal braces. This can mean treatment can take a little longer before reaching results.

The major benefit of ceramic braces is that they are much less obvious than metal braces. If you’re worried about low self-esteem because of the appearance of your teeth during adjustment, ceramic braces provide an inconspicuous option that will still be effective in your orthodontic work. 

Clear Trays or Invisalign

Clear teeth-straightening trays like Invisalign are made using detailed pictures, x rays, and impressions. The trays are changed every two weeks and require dental visits every 4-6 weeks to make sure they are working properly. 

Invisalign and other tray methods work like retainers. They have to be taken out before consuming anything other than water, and must be brushed after all meals to prevent staining. They are almost imperceptible when worn, and can be a great straightening option for those who don’t want to deal with traditional braces.

Invisalign Advantages

Invisalign is generally more expensive than both metal and ceramic braces, but can offer a quicker treatment time than traditional braces by several months, depending on the amount of work needed to correct the teeth. Traditional braces are still recommended where extensive work is needed. 

Plastic tray retainers also require more effort from the patient to maintain them and wear them regularly. Inconsistent use could make the treatment less effective. Braces, on the other hand, don’t require this discipline. You don’t have to think about them once they’re on and they’re always working. 

How to Choose Between Metal vs. Clear Braces or Invisalign

The perfect type of braces for you depends on the amount of work needed to straighten your teeth, if you need a more affordable option for a better smile, or if you want the most correcting action in the least amount of wearing time. Fortunately, you don’t have to decide right now. It’s best to talk over all of your braces options with your dentist. They are familiar with your teeth and know your dental goals well. Your dentist can help you decide whether metal vs. clear braces, or another straightening option, will help you reach them with maximum results and minimum inconvenience.

Deciding between metal vs. clear braces? Give Mogren Dental a call! We offer both clear and metal braces, and can help you choose the option that’s best for your teeth. Call us today at (231) 737-5500 or set up your appointment online.

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