If you're thinking about getting braces as an adult, you're not alone: one in five orthodontic patients are adults. As an adult, the idea of wearing prominent metal braces may not be appealing, but there are many types of transparent braces that are less noticeable, including braces with clear brackets.
Transparent vs. Traditional Braces
Traditional braces are made of stainless steel. Metal brackets are cemented onto the teeth, and the brackets are linked together with a metal archwire. The archwire is used to move the teeth into their desired positions.
The transparent type of braces are similar in concept, but the brackets are made of ceramic, not metal. The ceramic is transparent, so they are much less noticeable in your mouth. The archwires may also be transparent to help them blend in even more.
These clear braces work in the same way as traditional braces, so they're suitable for the majority of patients who need orthodontic correction. However, these clear braces cost more than traditional braces and are more delicate. Your orthodontist will be able to let you know if transparent braces are suitable for your specific situation.
What to Expect
If you opt to get clear braces, your orthodontist will bond the clear brackets onto the front surfaces of your teeth. The archwire is placed through the brackets and then bands known as ligatures will be wrapped around the brackets to hold the archwire in place.
Once your braces are in place, you can expect to see your orthodontist about once a month to every six weeks to have them adjusted. Most people need to wear their braces between one and three years, explains the American Dental Association. Once your braces are removed, a retainer will be used to hold your teeth in their newly adjusted position.
Minimizing Them and Keeping Them Clean
To minimize the look of your clear braces, it's important to take good care of them. The ligatures that are wrapped around your brackets can become discolored, and this will make your braces look much more noticeable. To keep your ligatures clear, try to avoid highly pigmented foods and drinks like coffee, red wine, curry and tomato sauce. Smoking can also stain the ligatures, so if you're a smoker, try to quit before you get your braces. Your orthodontist will replace the ligatures each time the braces are tightened at your orthodontic appointments.
Regular brushing is important for your oral health, but it also plays a role in helping your clear braces look their best. When food gets stuck to your brackets, it can draw attention to the braces you're trying to hide. To help your braces blend into your smile, carefully brush around the brackets after each meal with a toothbrush like a Colgate® 360°® Toothbrush to get rid of unsightly food particles.
Traditional metal braces aren't the only option anymore, so if you need braces as an adult, many inconspicuous alternatives are available, including transparent braces.