Braces are the original teeth-straightening solution, well, in modern times, at least (animal intestines and forceps came first – ouch). The reason braces are so enduring is because they’re incredibly effective at treating a wide range of bite problems in patients of all ages.
And while the principles of tooth movement have remained the same, the appliances themselves have seen a lot of upgrades, with the availability of clear, ceramic braces brackets being one of them. If you’ve been considering getting clear braces for yourself or your child, you’re in the right place.
In this post, I’ll be comparing clear vs. metal braces, as well as some other esthetic treatments, so you feel fully informed about your braces options.
How Do Braces Work to Straighten Teeth?
Before we get into the distinctions between the different types of braces, let’s talk about how braces work to straighten teeth in general. Metal braces and clear braces, whether bonded to the front of the teeth or behind the teeth, rely on a system of brackets and archwires. That’s what makes them braces and not clear aligners or a retainer.
The archwires exert steady, gentle pressure. This pressure stimulates a natural biological process called bone remodeling. This is where the jawbone and tissues that support the teeth break down (don’t worry, it only sounds terrifying. It’s actually happening on a microscopic scale), allowing the teeth to move in accordance with the treatment plan I created for you.
Once the teeth are in position, new bone forms around them and the ligaments tighten back up securing them in place.
What are Clear Braces Made Of?
Clear braces brackets are made of a ceramic material. Though the wires are metal, they’re thin enough that when combined with the ceramic brackets, the appliance blends in with your smile. Clear braces are less noticeable than metal braces.
Do clear braces stain? That used to be a concern but the modern varieties are pretty stain-resistant. What might stain are the elastics that hold the wire in, so be careful with a colorful diet. That said, ceramic is a little more brittle than stainless steel. So, many of our El Dorado Hills clear braces patients get clear brackets on the upper teeth in their smile line and metal brackets on their lower teeth and molars because the hardness of the lower braces can affect the upper teeth.
What are Metal Braces Made Of?
Metal braces brackets are made of surgical-grade stainless steel. The archwires are usually heat-activated nickel titanium, though different metal materials may be used at different stages of treatment.
With traditional metal braces, the brackets are bonded to the front of the teeth. Though the metal braces my team and I use at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics are smaller than they used to be, they’re still visible.
However, there is another option that uses metal brackets and wires too and that’s InBrace®. InBrace is a behind-the-teeth straightening solution, so it can’t be seen at all when you smile. And instead of traditional archwires, InBrace uses Smartwires® featuring a locking loop design. The wires are pre-programmed with your final tooth movements from the start.
Are Clear Braces Better Than Metal Braces?
When weighing the benefits of clear vs. metal braces, it really boils down to personal preference. If you would feel self-conscious about having metal braces, then clear braces would be the better option because they’re not as noticeable.
Some patients, especially our younger ones, like metal braces better because they can customize them with colorful elastics. They look forward to choosing their braces colors at appointments.
Otherwise, they both work the same. The only difference is that metal braces are a little stronger, which, again, is why we’ll often use ceramic braces on the upper front teeth and metal braces on the lower teeth, so they can withstand the biting forces.
How Do Clear Braces Stack Up Against Other Esthetic Options?
If you know you want an esthetic option, clear braces aren’t the only discreet treatment on the block. Here’s how they compare to two other solutions the Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics’ team offers:
Clear Braces vs. Invisalign®
With Invisalign, I create a personalized treatment plan on a digital, 3D model of your mouth. In case you didn’t know,Invisalign is just a lab that prints out a series of custom aligners according to my specifications. So not every invisalign plan or doctor is the same; it depends on the Orthodontist.
Once the lab prints your removable, clear aligners, you’ll wear them for 22 hours per day, taking them out to eat, drink, brush, and floss. Each set of Invisalign aligners is designed to achieve certain tooth movements. As you make your way through the entire series, your smile will progress right before your eyes.
Both clear braces and Invisalign exert pressure to shift the teeth into place. Where the treatments differ is in the timing of the force and how the force is applied (i.e., via aligners that cover the entire arch of teeth vs. archwires).
Some factors to consider when deciding between these two treatments include:
- Invisalign aligners are made of smooth, clear, BPA-free plastic and are less noticeable than clear braces.
- The aligners don’t have brackets and wires that can irritate the soft tissues of your mouth or cause an injury if you sustain a blow to the face.
- There are no food restrictions with Invisalign.
- Oral hygiene is easier with Invisalign since you’ll take the aligners out before brushing and flossing your teeth.
- Clear braces are bonded to the teeth and stay in place throughout the entire treatment, so they can’t be lost like clear aligners.
- The success of treatment with clear ceramic braces isn’t as dependent on patient compliance (i.e., wearing the aligners for the prescribed amount of time, remembering to change aligners every week, etc.) as it is with Invisalign, but still requires great elastic wear and brushing.
- You don’t have to take clear braces in and out every time you eat or drink.
- Certain orthodontic problems may respond better to clear braces vs. Invisalign.
Clear Braces vs. InBrace
For years, patients could only choose between clear braces and Invisalign when it came to esthetic options. But clear braces, while less noticeable than metal ones, are still visible. And Invisalign, though much more discreet, involves keeping tabs on aligners and following a wear schedule.
There wasn’t anything for patients who wanted an under-the-radar, set-it-and-forget-it treatment. That is, until InBrace. As one of two InBrace providers in the Sacramento area, the treatment has quickly become really popular with our patients.
InBrace goes behind the teeth, so it’s the least visible of any orthodontic treatment. The truly invisible braces are also bonded in place, so you don’t have to worry about aligner changes or losing your appliance like you would with Invisalign.
I create a computerized treatment plan on a 3D model of your mouth. InBrace fabricates custom Smartwires that are pre-programmed with the tooth movements I’ve planned, so your teeth start moving to their final positions from day one.
The smartwires use Gentleforce® technology to shift teeth more efficiently and comfortably. They also have a locking loop design, so the braces only require a few elastics, as opposed to elastics on every tooth. Because teeth take a more direct path to their new places, InBrace treatment may be shorter overall and can sometimes achieve better results.
Some of the other factors to consider when comparing ceramic braces to InBrace include:
- With InBrace, you’ll actually smile with your braces on. I know that might sound weird, so re-read it. I’ve seen so many patients hide their smiles while they have their braces on. You’ll smile even more as you watch your teeth get straighter.
- Both options are bonded to the teeth, so neither can be lost and there is no wear schedule to follow or aligners to change.
- Thanks to the Smartwires’ loop design, you can floss normally with InBrace, while you’ll have to use a floss threader or special orthodontic flosser to floss with clear braces.
- Because clear braces are bonded to the front of the teeth, your braces and wires can still get stuck in your cheeks if you get hit in the mouth while playing sports. InBrace is a little more athlete-friendly.
- InBrace is a premium, fully customized treatment.
- InBrace doesn’t require tightening like ceramic braces, so you may have fewer appointments during treatment.
How Much are Clear Braces vs. Metal Braces, InBrace and Invisalign?
While I’d love to be able to let you know exactly how much clear braces cost, it depends on the complexity of your case and the duration of your treatment. There is a slightly higher charge for clear braces vs. metal braces because the material is more expensive.
Invisalign costs about the same as braces, while InBrace is more of an investment than braces or Invisalign, but not by much.
In any case, Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics works with most insurance plans. If you have dental insurance that covers braces, it will also cover clear braces, significantly reducing your out-of-pocket costs.
My team and I also offer paid-in-full, family, and hero discounts, as well as flexible, interest-free, in-house financing plans. We’ll work with you to ensure the cost of clear braces fits your family’s budget.
Want to Learn More About Clear Braces in El Dorado Hills, CA?
Schedule a complimentary consultation at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics today! I’ll perform an exam and assess your diagnostic records to determine an accurate diagnosis. I can then let you know your personalized treatment recommendations.
Whether you decide on metal braces, clear braces, InBrace or Invisalign, my team and I are here to ensure you get outstanding results and have an equally outstanding experience.