metal vs ceramic vs clear

Clear vs. Ceramic vs Metal Braces; Which one to choose?

Ready to align your teeth but not sure if you want to choose clear braces, ceramic braces, or metal braces. Years ago, if you wanted to correct your smile, you only had one option: metal braces. With advances in technology, this is not the case anymore. These days you have several options. In this article, we are going to compare clear vs. ceramic vs. metal braces so you can decide which one works for you.

Why Braces?

For most people, braces mean a more beautiful smile. Besides getting a nice smile, when aligning your teeth with braces, you can also prevent long term health problems. For example, crowded or crooked teeth are not very easy to clean which may lead to gum disease or tooth decay. If you are also suffering from poor jaw alignment, it can be taken care of with tooth alignment. Similar to teeth, abnormal jaw alignment can cause tooth wear or gum issues.

Ceramic braces are a common alternative to metal braces, and like metal braces, you need to visit your orthodontist to get them. Sometimes people refer to ceramic braces as clear braces, but these days when you talk about clear braces, most people are talking about clear, removable plastic braces. 

Traditional metal braces are very noticeable, and some people do not like that because it makes them self-conscious. This gets even worse if you are about to get married or have an important job interview. Ceramic and clear braces are great alternatives to metal braces.

Metal Braces

Metal braces

These braces are made of metal brackets that are glued to your teeth with a special cement (approved for dentistry) and connected by wires and sometimes rubber bands.

Metal braces give your orthodontist unprecedented control over your treatment as with these braces every tooth can be shifted precisely how it supposed to be.

Ceramic braces

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces but their brackets are made of ceramic (most of the time), porcelain, or sometimes plastic. You can pick either clear color or have them colored the same color as your teeth. If your teeth are pretty white, you may want to go with clear ones, but if the color of your teeth is off-white or yellow, to blend it best, you can ask your orthodontist to color them, so they match your teeth.

Ceramic braces used to come with metal wires, but nowadays, the wire itself is also bright, so they are almost invisible.

Also, metal braces only come in one color, shiny silver (or sometimes gray). Ceramic braces are available in any color you can imagine.

If you need to do Xray or imaging test, metal braces usually disrupt the signals. On the other hand, ceramic braces produce less signal interference.

Metal braces vs. Ceramic Braces Effectivenss

If you have significant issues and need extensive alignment, metal braces are your best bet as they can tolerate more pressure.

 The treatment time for ceramic braces is longer because teeth adjustment must be slightly smaller. However, they move your teeth faster than clear braces. Ceramic braces take an average of 12 to 18 months to straighten your teeth.

Metal braces vs. Ceramic Braces Durability

Depending on your need, you may choose one or the other. Metal braces are made from metal, so they are very sturdy and durable. Ceramic braces are made from less sturdy material so they could chip or crack easier than the metal one, and they are more than twice as likely to break off.

If you are engaged in some sorts of activities where your jaw or mouth may be in contact with other objects like playing rough sports, you may want to consider traditional braces.

Metal braces vs. Ceramic Braces cost

The cost of braces can vary based on the complication of your teeth and how much alignment they need. But in general, traditional braces cost somewhere between $3000 to $7000. Ceramic braces usually start at $2000 and may go up to $8000.

Even though the cost is comparable, some insurance companies do not cover ceramicbraces, or they may want you to get the traditional metal braces.

Clear braces

clear Braces

Clear aligners are BPA-free plastic trays that fit snugly over your teeth and gently push them in the desired position.

These days there are so many companies offering clear braces. Some of them require you to visit your orthodontist, and others take care of your teeth alignment from the comfort of your home. Clear braces are certainly less visible and more comfortable. To get your teeth to align, you will receive a series of removable aligners, and each aligner shifts your teeth a little bit until your teeth reach their final position.

Clear braces were found to be useful for moderate crowding of the front teeth, but not as effective as conventional braces for several other issues. Clear aligners are not also suitable for children. If your crowding or spacing is mild to moderate, then you can use them for aligning your teeth.

The most well-known company that offers clear braces is Invisalign, which requires you to visit an approved orthodontist to get their aligners.  Companies that offer mail to order clear aligners include but are not limited to Byte, Smile Direct Club, and Candid

Metal braces vs. Ceramic Braces vs. Clear braces comfort

Ceramic braces tend to be slightly larger than metal braces which cause some people irritation in their inner lips. Another discomfort may be due to the material itself. So, if you have a sensitive mouth, you may want to talk with your orthodontist before getting ceramic braces.

With metal and ceramic braces, you will usually have a lot of soreness the first few days after you get them. After the fourth day, the pain becomes tolerable, and by week two, you are back on feeling normal.

The most comfortable out of all three are clear braces. They can easily be removed, which makes your life much easier when eating, drinking, or brushing teeth. With invisible braces, you usually change them every two weeks, and every time your change them, you have some discomfort for a few days.

Metal braces vs. Ceramic Braces vs. Clear Braces treatment time

The amount of time it takes for you to get the smile you are looking for depends on how much work your teeth need.

In general, metal braces and ceramic braces are taking a longer time compared to clear braces. New technologies like heat-activated wires, can shorten the time (for metal braces) by moving your teeth more quickly and less painfully.

Clear braces are using newer technology; for example, Hyper-Byte helps you reduce the treatment time of your teeth alignment by half. For instance, if your orthodontist tells you that is would take ten months for your teeth to become straight, using Hyper-Byte technology reduces that time to 5 months.

When to use Ceramic braces instead of aligners?

Aligners are the newest technology, and the fact that they are almost invisible brings up this question that why in the world that is why someone would want to use ceramic braces? Ceramic braces can do things that aligners cannot. Ceramic braces can handle more complicated alignment, they can do it more effectively and predictably. With ceramic braces, since orthodontists do everything, there is not much responsibility for the patients.

If you have a big space that needs to be closed, it is much more comfortable with ceramic braces than clear braces. Some people are also afraid of losing aligners or forgetting to replace the new one, for those people, ceramic braces give them what they are looking for.

Why should you choose clear aligners?

If you want to hear the quick answer, because of time and money. With most clear aligner providers, you do not need to visit your orthodontist every few weeks (which saves you time), and that is the reason for them being less expensive compared to ceramic and metal braces.

Most companies that offer clear braces work with licensed dentists and orthodontists through a process called teledentistry. There are lots of misconceptions about teledentistry. This is taken from American teledentistry.org

“The mission of the American Teledentistry Association is to educate dental professionals, public policymakers, and patients about the scope of teledentistry and to develop best practices in this growing area of healthcare delivery. We have found that there is a tremendous amount of misinformation on the web regarding teledentistry. It is unfortunate that most of it has come from dental professionals and protectionist trade groups who believe that teledental practice diminishes the role of the dental practitioner in diagnosis and treatment.

The most common misconception is that teleorthodontic treatment is “Do-it-yourself” orthodontics. This could not be further from the truth.

Through the use of information technology and the digital health record, orthodontists are able to, in real-time or in a store-and-forward method, utilize teledentistry to diagnose, treatment plan, render treatment, and monitor treatment progress of patients. Do-it-yourself orthodontics, either Do-it-Yourself Braces or Do-it-Yourself Aligners, on the other hand, does not involve a doctor in any part of the process.”

Invisalign vs. other clear aligners:

The technology that Invisalign uses is very similar to other companies that offer clear aligners. The main difference between them is that with Invisalign, you need to visit your orthodontist all the time (similar to ceramic or metal braces). With other companies, everything is done online without you stepping out of the house. 

Even though you will receive aesthetically more beautiful braces with Invisalign, you still have to commute to your orthodontist and pay a lot of money. If you are super busy or do not have a lot of money to spend on your teeth, then you can try other online companies.

If you are not sure which company to pick, you can read Byte vs. Smile Direct Club vs Invisalign or How much does Invisalign cost and how to get a better price or Best Invisible Aligners.

Do clear braces or ceramic braces turn yellow?

Initially, when ceramic braces came out, they tend to stain (depending on the material they were made of). Today’s ceramic braces do not have this problem anymore.

Clear aligners also do not turn yellow since you need to remove them before eating or drinking. With all the clear aligners, a cleaning solution needs to be used, which you need to purchase, or it comes with the kit. You can use the cleaning solution to make sure the clear aligners are always nice and clean.

How to get clear aligners?

First: you need to meet some requirements in order to be considered; for example, you must be at least 12 years old and have all your permanent teeth. Also, you are not planning for any dental surgery or modification any time soon.

Second: you are should take their online survey, which does not take more than a minute. This survey is to find out if you are qualified or not. Most of the time, you are a candidate, but if there are significant complications, clear aligners will not be able to fix them for you.

Third: you need to visit their shop (some of them like Smile Direct Club has physical locations) for a digital scan or purchase the impression kit to begin your journey.

Fourth: You send the impression kit back, and a dentist or orthodontist will check that and provide a personal treatment for you. After you approve the treatment, they will send you a set of aligners along with instructions and sometimes some free items like whitening kit.

What is a nighttime aligner?

Depending on the plan you choose, you either need to wear your aligners for about 22 hours per day or 10 hours every night.

Smile Direct Club and Byte offer overnight aligners, but you need to be approved for those. Keep in mind that since you are going to wear the aligners for shorter hours, the treatment will take longer.

Nighttime aligners are suitable for people who do not like to remove aligners every time they want to eat. With nighttime aligners, you are only going to wear them before bed and remove them after you wake up.

Summary: Metal Braces vs. Ceramic Braces Vs. Clear Braces Pros and Cons

Aesthetic:

After weight, people are more likely to feel insecure about their teeth than any part of the body. Adults more favor ceramic and clear braces as they are less noticeable compared to metal braces. If you have a big event comping up ceramic, or clear braces are great alternatives to metal ones.

Pain:

People have most complain about pain when they are wearing metal braces. Ceramic braces are more comfortable.  Clear braces are the most comfortable ones as they do not attach to your teeth.

Price:

Ceramic braces are usually more expensive than metal braces. This is mostly because of the material used to make them. Metal braces cost $3000-$7000; Ceramic braces cost $4000- $8000, Invisalign costs $4000- $7400 and other clear braces like Byte, Candid or Smile Direct Club cost around $2000.

To conclude, as far as price Byte, Candid, and Smile Direct Clubs are winners by far. 

Effectiveness:

For dramatic changes, the most effective ones are metal braces, then ceramic braces, then clear braces. Clear braces can only be effective on minor changes. Since there is no in-person orthodontist supervision, they want to make sure clear braces can align your teeth.  

If you have a complicated case, you would not even be qualified to use clear braces for your treatment.

Durability:

Metal braces are highly durable and offer great control. Ceramic braces are more fragile and may break. Clear braces are very durable and chances are you will not damage them. This is because you need to take them out when brushing, eating, and drinking.

Discolorations:

Since metal braces are made from dark material, they are less likely to get discolored. Ceramic braces used to become discolored, but newer material does not have that issue anymore. With clear aligners, you always receive instructions and cleaning material to help you keep them nice and clean.

Cleaning:

Metal braces are way harder to clean compare to ceramic braces and clear braces since they come in bigger sizes. The easiest to clean, are clear braces as you can remove them and use cleaning solutions to make them clean. 

Which one is best for you?

When it comes to choosing one vs. another, it comes down to your circumstances. Do you have complicated alignment case, are you in a hurry? Do you have time to go to an orthodontist every month? Based on the answers, you can find the best fit for your teeth.

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