Clear braces may be a desirable alternative to shiny metal brackets and wires that stand out when you smile. Clear braces are most often made of see-through or tooth-coloured ceramic, porcelain or polycarbonate. Despite many preferring a more discrete look, there are both pros and cons to clear braces. Depending on their makeup, clear braces are commonly bulky (compared to metal braces) and harder than tooth enamel. For this reason there is the potential for the brackets to wear down your teeth. More on this later.
Another issue with clear braces is the fact that they generally need to be bulkier to achieve the same job as their metal counterparts. This may mean it takes slightly longer for you to get used to your new braces, as they will feel bulkier, and the chance of them catching your lips is greater.
Another issue with clear braces being a little bulkier is particularly relevant to clear braces on bottom teeth only. To explain, we will need to understand a little more about how braces actually work. Braces brackets (i.e. the square piece stuck to each tooth) are basically handles. The movement is achieved my the gentle forces delivered by the wire which runs between the braces. If a tooth is crooked, it will be pulled into line by the wire. In some cases your orthodontist will place bends or even springs in the wire between teeth to achieve certain movements.
Now – if you look in the mirror you will notice your bottom front teeth are quite narrow. If you use your imagination to envisage large clear braces on each lower tooth, you may be able to appreciate the fact that it provides less room for the wire to do the work of tooth movement. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to have clear braces on your lower teeth. It does mean, however, that there is a good chance that treatment will take a little longer, and this needs to be factored into your decision.
A good compromise may be to have metal braces on your lower teeth and clear on your upper (where the size of the front teeth means that the fact that the brackets are a little larger is much less significant). Your upper teeth do tend to be most noticeable, especially when smiling for photos.
The Dangers of Overbites
We mentioned before that clear braces have the potential to wear teeth down. Again, if you look in the mirror you will notice that (at least for most people) the braces most in danger of being ‘bitten down’ on would be those lower front teeth again.
Some people will be more prone than others to this. More specifically, your orthodontist may want to closely evaluate your overbite, if any exists, to see whether you are a candidate for clear braces on all of your teeth. As a general rule, the more significant the overbite, the more at risk you are for damaging your top teeth with clear braces when they are placed on the bottom row of your smile. In any case, it is important to listen to your orthodontist’s recommendation to ensure you are getting the treatment you need for a successful smile transformation.
Again, even if the recommendation is to avoid clear braces on the lower teeth, you can usually still have clear braces on the upper teeth.
Metal and Clear Braces
Despite these possible issues, you may find that you are still a candidate for clear braces – whether it be for both or just the upper row of your teeth. Another option to consider is clear aligner treatment like Invisalign; which can be just as effective as braces in many cases. Don’t be shy – if treatment is indicated and you would like to makeover your smile, let your orthodontist know your preferences so that he or she can discuss suitable solutions and options with you.