With the emergence of Invisalign® and clear and tooth-colored braces, you may be wondering why traditional metal braces didn’t go the way of the cassette tape years ago.
The truth is, metal braces are not only far from obsolete, they actually offer some advantages over other orthodontic treatment options.
In this post we’ll focus on four facts about traditional metal braces that highlight those advantages…and that may just convince you that sporting a metal mouth for a while wouldn’t be so bad after all.
But before we go into that, we would first like to point out that metal braces have come a long way since you (or your parents) were a kid. In the past braces were bulkier and more uncomfortable than they are now. Modern brackets are much smaller than they used to be, and in the case of self-ligating braces, don’t require additional wire or elastic ties to hold them in place.
Knowing that metal braces have dramatically improved over the years may already have you thinking differently about them. Still, here are the four facts we promised that will further clarify why metal braces are not only a viable option in this day and age, but are still one of the most common orthodontic appliances used today.
FACT #1 Metal Braces Treat All Types of Issues
Whether you have minor crowding or are facing more complex issues requiring significant tooth movement, traditional braces can do it all… and often faster and more affordably than other orthodontic treatments.
An example for comparison’s sake is Six Month Smiles®, a popular choice due to the less noticable clear braces used and speedy treatment time. Although these braces may be more aesthetically pleasing than their metal counterparts, they only address the cosmetic appearance of the teeth and won’t help with other problems like bite correction.
And while clear aligners like Invisalign® will correct certain bite issues, straighten teeth, and close gaps to a degree, they are best for treating mild to moderate cases. If you have significant gaps, deep bite issues, or teeth that are severely tipped or rotated, then traditional braces are going to be more effective in resolving your concerns.
FACT #2 Treatment Time is Often Shorter with Traditional Braces
Regardless of the orthodontic device being used, treatment time is going to be primarily dependent on the severity of the condition being treated.
You may have read that the average treatment time for Invisalign® is 12 months vs. 2 years for traditional braces. But as we mentioned above, Invisalign® is most often used for mild to moderate orthodontic issues, whereas braces are used in more severe cases…which are naturally going to take longer to treat.
Generally speaking, traditional braces are going to move your teeth faster than aligners because of the increased force that can be applied and greater control over movement your orthodontist has. The difference between the two may be less significant in milder cases, but will increase with the severity and complexity of the issues being treated.
FACT #3 Metal Braces Are Strong and Durable
Metal braces certainly aren’t indestructible, but as far as orthodontic treatment options go, they are about as strong and durable as you are going to get.
In contrast, while improvement in the quality of materials used in ceramic braces has made them stronger over the years, they still remain more fragile than their stainless steel counterparts. As such, repair or replacement will be more likely with ceramic than with metal. Also keep in mind that clear braces (usually the ligaments or bonding material) or aligners will be prone to staining, where you (obviously) won’t have that problem with metal braces.
FACT #4 Metal Braces Cost Less Than Other Options
Though factors such as insurance coverage, location, and complexity of treatment play a large role in determining the actual out-of-pocket expense for each person’s orthodontic treatment, traditional metal braces will tend to cost less than ceramic braces or clear aligners simply because the materials themselves are less expensive to manufacture and maintain.
We should also point out that some insurance companies will offer less coverage (or none at all) for clear braces or aligners compared to metal braces. If you’re planning on using insurance to pay for your orthodontic treatment, it’s important to find out right from the beginning what your provider will and won’t cover.
We’re certainly not here to convince you that traditional metal braces are the very best treatment option available, because the truth is, no one treatment option is better than another in every situation. Ultimately, your orthodontist will recommend the best treatment option for you based on your individual treatment needs, budget, and lifestyle. And if that happens to be metal braces and you’re still not in love with the idea, remember that the temporary inconvenience of wearing braces can lead to a healthy, beautiful smile that will last a lifetime!