When Tom Cruise made 2002 headlines with braces, few adults had considered them a grown-up straight-teeth solution.
Now their choices range from discreet to updated metal-mouth versions that offer less ouch and shorter treatment times.
Clear, plastic upper- and lower-teeth trays that fit teeth through each straightening stage, about two weeks per set. The number of “aligners” depends on how much straightening you need.
Pros: Almost undetectable on teeth. Removeable for easy brushing and flossing.
Cons: Not for major straightening. Custom manufactured, so you’ll wait between fittings and delivery. Invisalign is also the most expensive braces choice.
Ceramic braces refer to the brackets affixed to the teeth. Apparently, Tom Cruise wore ceramic.
Pros: Made of transclucent material, ceramic brackets are more subtle than glinty metal. Tooth-coloured wire add further camouflage.
Cons: Although the brackets are translucent, the ligatures are usually latex, which can stain. As well, translucent doesn’t mean clear; ceramics could make super-white teeth look dingy. The brackets are also larger than metal, and more brittle.
Similar to standard metal, the difference in these is the brackets. Regular braces need tiny plastic bands (ligatures) that encircle tiny hooks on the face of the brackets to hold the wire against teeth. Self-ligating brackets instead have built-in clips to grip the wire.
Pros: Fewer adjustments, less wearing time. In regular braces, ligatures restrict the slip of the brackets along the archwire, so teeth shift haltingly into position. As well, orthos have to remove and replace ligatures at each adjustment visit. With self-ligating braces, brackets slide continuously along the wire as teeth move, which reduces the need for adjustments and shortens the process.
Titanium wire can further lessen straightening time and pain. More flexible than stainless steel, titanium has stretch memory, says Dr. Stephen Gurza, orthodontist and founder of The Brace Place, which has offices in Toronto, Thornhill and Scarborough, Ont. “We can tighten titanium wire more without increasing patient discomfort.” Plus, the wire’s gradual contraction helps shift teeth into place faster.
Cons: Smile and the world sees your braces.
Wires and metal brackets customized to fit the flipside of your bite.
Pros: Invisible when you smile because the hardware is behind the teeth.
Cons: Pricier than standard braces, lingual braces are difficult to install as well as keep clean. Their placement also causes initial tongue discomfort and makes speech a little tricky.
Called SureSmile, these combine 3-D computer scanning, wire-and-bracket braces and robot technology. Via computer, the orthodontist directs a robot to bend a flexible titanium wire according to his or her prescription.
Pros: Fewer adjustment appointments thanks to better-than-human robotic precision as well as titanium wire, and as little as half the wearing time.
Cons: More costly than traditional braces, and not yet widely available (davisortho.ca for more info).
The bottom line on braces is that whichever option you choose, sometimes a smile takes a while (and some discomfort) to perfect. But even an imperfect smile can be appealing. Smile big and be beautiful.