Modern orthodontia includes a variety of appliances and treatment options, enabling better results and shorter treatment times than ever before.
Scroll through to learn about the different types of braces and orthodontic treatment options. Or, skip to the section you want to read by using the menu below.
- Braces Types
- Metal Braces
- Ceramic Braces
- Lingual Braces
- Damon System®
- Six Month Smiles®
- Invisalign® / Invisalign®Teen
- Other Appliances
- Braces Cost
- Braces Colors
- Braces Process
- Braces FAQ
Metal braces are the oldest and most reliable form of fixed appliance. While the term “metal mouth” may come to mind, today’s metal braces are much smaller and more comfortable than the braces your parents wore (or you wore as a kid). Mini-metal braces take that improvement even further; they utilize even smaller brackets and are more discreet and comfortable as a result.
Metal braces are made of stainless steel and are comprised of two main parts: the brackets that are cemented to the teeth and the archwire that links the brackets to each other. It’s this archwire that applies gentle pressure which slowly moves the teeth into their correct position.
The archwires are usually connected to the brackets with tiny elastics or wires called ligatures; however, self-ligating braces, in which the archwire is connected to the bracket with a door or clip instead of ligatures, are another option. The potential benefits of self-ligating braces include less discomfort, less need for extractions and shorter treatment time. The primary downside to self-ligating braces is that they’re more expensive than their traditional counterparts.
With all of the other orthodontic options available today, it may surprise you to know that metal braces are still the most commonly used type of treatment. Why? Because they are affordable, reliable and treat the widest variety of conditions.
For even more information about traditional metal braces, check out our blog article 4 Facts That Will Change Your Mind About Traditional Metal Braces.Top ↑
Ceramic braces are similar to traditional metal appliances in that they use archwires and brackets that are cemented to the teeth. The main difference is that the brackets are clear or tooth-colored, making them much less conspicuous. The silver metal archwires are sometimes colored to disappear against the teeth as well, providing an even more subtle appearance to the braces. As such, ceramic braces are a popular choice among adults seeking orthodontic treatment.
The advantage of ceramic over metal braces is primarily aesthetic. The disadvantages are that they cost more and are more prone to staining.Top ↑
Lingual braces are made of the same stainless steel brackets and wires of traditional metal braces, but are attached to the back of the teeth instead of the front. Lingual braces are another good option for those concerned with the appearance of traditional braces, but they come with their fair share of disadvantages: They are often more expensive, more uncomfortable at first and more difficult to clean than front-facing braces; additionally, lingual braces aren’t appropriate for treating more severe cases.Top ↑
Damon System® braces are appropriate for kids, teens and adults alike. They are self ligating and are comprised of archwires and either ceramic or metal brackets, just like traditional braces. But that is where the similarities end: Damon System® is unique in that it takes into account the appearance and structure of the whole face, not just the teeth. While these braces may cost more than traditional appliances, they offer many potential advantages over them, including being easier to clean, faster treatment times, less discomfort and fewer adjustments required.
Check out this blog article we wrote to see some before-and-after photos and to learn more about the Damon System®.Top ↑
6 Month Smiles®
6 Month Smiles® is another modern treatment option we offer here at Vancouver Orthodontic Specialists, PLLC, and is one of the few that may actually cost less than traditional braces. The reason is in the name—6 Month Smiles® offers shorter treatment times than most other options, with an average of 6 months vs. 12 for Invisalign® (for adult treatment) and 18-24 months for traditional braces. Please keep in mind that these are just averages and your actual treatment time will depend on the severity and complexity of your case.
In addition to being a rapid and affordable treatment option, 6 Month Smiles® uses clear brackets and tooth-colored wires, so your braces will be discreet. It should be noted that this system isn’t intended for children under 16 or those who need bite correction or have more severe issues that need to be addressed.Top ↑
Invisalign® and Invisalign®Teen
Invisalign® and Invisalign®Teen utilize a clear aligner system to straighten teeth.
Because Invisalign® is so popular with adults and teens alike, we’ve written a comprehensive information page on the subject. Check out our Ultimate Invisalign® Guide for more detailed information, before and after photos, and more.Top ↑
While retainers are most often used to keep teeth in place after orthodontic treatment with another appliance, spring retainers are sometimes utilized to straighten teeth when very little movement is needed.
Our dedicated Retention page provides more information on retainers, as do the articles Types of Retainers and Pros and Cons of Each and Orthodontic Retainer FAQ. Click on any or all of the links for everything you could want to know about retainers.Top ↑
Skeletal expanders, jaw correctors, and Forsus Springs are some of the devices that may be used alone or in conjunction with other appliances in the course of your orthodontic treatment. Which appliance used and for how long will depend on your unique individual treatment needs.
It’s understandable that you’d want to know how much braces will cost before you go in for your consultation. The problem is that orthodontic treatment is not one-size-fits-all, which means the price will vary from patient to patient. While the average cost of braces in the Vancouver, WA area is estimated between $3500 and $6000, your cost may be more or less depending on several factors, including the type of braces you choose and complexity of your treatment.
The only way to know for sure what braces will actually cost for you or your child is to go in for your free consultation. During your visit we will go over your treatment and payment options, insurance coverage, and answer any other questions you may have.
While some prefer to keep their orthodontic treatment discreet with clear or ceramic braces or invisible aligners, others opt to have a little fun with colored braces.
Choosing colored bands for your braces can be a great way to express your personality, school spirit, or to celebrate the holidays. You can pick braces colors to go with the color of clothing you wear most often, or those that best compliment your skin tone. You can get creative and choose multiple colors, or keep things subdued and stick with clear or silver bands. You can also switch colors at your tightening appointments (approximately every 6-8 weeks), which is great if you’re doing a holiday theme or if you decide you don’t like your current selection.
If you’d like to experiment with different colors and combinations before your next appointment, check out our Braces Color Chooser.Top ↑
While the braces process will vary to some degree depending on the orthodontist you choose, the type of braces you have, and other details of your orthodontic treatment, most cases will follow the general steps below:
STEP 1Free Consultation
During your free consultation, Dr. Irwin will give you (or your child) a comprehensive exam to determine if orthodontic treatment is necessary. If so, a customized treatment plan will be created based on your needs and treatment goals. Insurance coverage and payment options will also be discussed at this time.
If you need any major dental work done, it will most likely need to be completed prior to starting orthodontic treatment. This will also be determined during your initial consultation.
STEP 3Banding Appointment
Time to get your new braces! Your appointment will last approximately 1.5-2 hrs, and will most likely be the longest of your office visits.
While it may take a while, getting your braces put on will not be painful. After cleaning and conditioning the surface of your teeth, Dr. Irwin will place the brackets on each individual tooth with a harmless bonding agent. Next, he will insert the archwire and place the elastic bands.
You will then be given instructions on how to properly care for your braces and keep your teeth clean during treatment. Your mouth will be sore after your braces are put on, but this should subside within a few days to a week. You can take an OTC pain reliever to minimize any discomfort during this initial phase.
You will head back to the office every 4-8 weeks for an adjustment. During these visits (which are much faster than the initial banding appointment), Dr. Irwin will measure your progress and make any adjustments needed. Your bands (and possibly, archwire) will be replaced, so you’ll have the opportunity to switch colors during these appointments if you wish.
STEP 5Debanding Appointment
Woo-hoo! Debanding time! After months or even years of wearing braces, the big day to have them removed has finally arrived!
Getting your braces removed is easy and comfortable. The appointment will last between 60-90 minutes and will include removing your braces, taking a final set of orthodontic impressions, giving you your new retainer(s), and instructions for retainer wear and caring for your new smile.
The retention phase is the final and longest phase of your orthodontic journey. While retainer wear is graduated (becomes less over time), it is important to continue to wear your retainer indefinitely to prevent your teeth from shifting back out of alignment.
As mentioned above, you can learn more about retainers on our dedicated Retention page.Top ↑
Tap a question to see the answer. Tap again to close.
+ What conditions can be treated with braces?
Braces can treat a wide variety of orthodontic conditions, including spaced teeth (or gaps between teeth), overbite, underbite, open bite, cross bite, and crowding. Braces can also alleviate migraines and neck, shoulder, and jaw pain, reduce or eliminate bruxism (grinding of teeth) and sleep apnea, and correct TMJ disorders if these conditions are being caused by bite problems or misalignment.
+ Can braces expand arch, palate, or jaw?
Braces, either alone or with the help of an expander, can expand the arch, palate, and jaw as needed. This will create room for crowded teeth and give the patient a wider smile.
+ Can braces be worn with crowns or veneers?
Yes! Braces can be worn with crowns and veneers. Your orthodontist may want to move the teeth more slowly and/or keep a closer eye on the affected teeth, but your dental work will not prevent you from being able to straighten your smile.
+ Can braces lengthen teeth?
The length of your tooth doesn’t change with braces, but your teeth may look longer if the movement has caused more of the crown to be exposed from under the gum.
+ Are braces safe to wear during pregnancy?
While braces themselves pose no danger during pregnancy, hormonal changes may make orthodontic treatment more challenging. For example, your gums may become swollen and be more easily irritated by the braces. Or you may crave foods that are restricted during orthodontic treatment. Even so, as long as x-rays have been completed and there are no other complications, you should be able to successfully straighten your smile during pregnancy.
+ Are braces MRI safe?
It is typically safe to have an MRI while wearing braces. However, if the brain, teeth, or facial area are being viewed, the image may be distorted.
+ Are braces magnetic?
Contrary to popular belief, metal braces are not magnetic! They will not set off metal detectors and, as mentioned above, are safe in MRI machines.
+ Will braces rust?
Braces are made of strong, lightweight metal such as titanium alloy. They are designed to be in the oral environment and no, they will not rust.
+ Are braces heat activated?
Some (not all) archwires are indeed heat activated. When exposed to the body heat in your mouth, they apply gentle force against your teeth, causing them to move more quickly and comfortably than with traditional wires.
+ Will braces get stuck together when kissing?
It is extremely unlikely that braces will lock during kissing. You may want to be gentle about it, though, as extreme force could cause a a bracket to move out of place or a wire to break.
Now that you know a bit more about the types of braces and other appliances used in orthodontics, and have (hopefully) had many of your questions about braces answered, contact us to schedule your FREE consultation in our Vancouver, WA office; Dr. Irwin and his knowledgeable team will assist you in choosing the treatment option that will yield optimal results for you or your child.Top ↑