Braces Are Always Evolving!
There are many paths to a straight, healthy smile and braces have been around as an option for getting teeth on track for over a century. However, braces have come a long way in recent years. Gone are the clunky metal brackets and agonizingly slow treatment times, even traditional dental molds are a thing of the past. Today, braces are available to children, teens, and adults – each with their own unique options to fit your level of expression or lifestyle.
Braces, like all orthodontic treatment, focuses on aligning the teeth into the optimal position for each person’s unique smile. Because orthodontic treatment – especially braces – involve complex movements and changes in a person’s jaw bones, facial bones, soft tissue and teeth, it’s recommended that you complete orthodontic care under the supervision of an American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) certified provider.
Who can get braces?
The AAO reports that up to 50% of the population could benefit in some way from orthodontic treatment and recommends parents first bring their child for an orthodontics consultation around age seven (when your child begins to lose their baby teeth and gain their first permanent teeth).
Don’t worry – just because your child is getting an orthodontic consultation doesn’t mean it’s necessarily time to put braces on. This initial consultation helps the orthodontist plan ahead for how your child’s smile is developing. Any orthodontic preparations, such a palate expander, might be put in place around this time to create space for their permanent teeth.
And while kids, tweens, and teens make up the majority of orthodontic patients, more and more adults are turning to braces to correct their smile. Many of the adults are getting braces for the first (or second) time. In fact, the average age of orthodontic patients at Dental Depot is 27!
What types of braces are there?
Today’s braces are smaller, faster, and smarter than ever. At your consultation, your orthodontist will help you determine which kind of braces are best for you.
At Dental Depot, we have many options available for patients, including:
- Damon brackets – Damon brackets, or “traditional” or “metal” braces, are what most people think of when they hear “braces.” These brackets offer patients the most cost-effective orthodontic treatment and allow for customization when it comes to choosing band colors. These brackets come paired with a heat-activated arch wire to help move teeth into place quicker and with less pain.
- Ceramic brackets – Ceramic brackets work and function the same as traditional braces, however, they are tooth-colored and some even feature a tooth-colored or neutral-colored wire to minimize the appearance of brackets on the teeth. The only difference between ceramic brackets and traditional metal braces is the appearance, but you can expect ceramic braces to cost a little more.
- Lingual braces – Lingual braces bond to the backside of teeth to hide them almost entirely! The downside to lingual braces is that they aren’t for everyone. Lingual braces are much harder to keep clean and treatment takes longer to complete.
- Clear aligners – While not technically “braces,” clear aligners are another option – available at all Dental Depots – for patients who don’t want the look of traditional braces.
How do braces work?
Consistent, steady force from appliances (either braces or aligners) help shift the teeth to their ideal position over the course of several months. Most treatment times averages between 12-36 months, depending on the age of the patient and the amount and complexity of the movement required. Some orthodontists now recommend children go through two phases of orthodontic treatment, the first more focused on setting the developing mouth up for success, the second on actually moving the permanent teeth into place.
Parts of the Braces
Brackets – Brackets are what you think of when you picture “braces.” The bracket is attached to the tooth using a bonding material to keep it in place. Sometimes the brackets are supported by a band. The archwires fit into tiny doors on the front of the bracket. Brackets also have tiny hooks to help attach any ties or rubber bands to help with tooth movement.
Arch wires – The arch wire is where the magic happens. Made of body-safe metal, this delicate wire has a fixed shape and when it’s placed into the brackets, it shifts to follow the curves of your smile. Overtime the archwire guides the teeth into their new positions. The wire will be replaced with different types of wire throughout your treatment.
- Bands – Bands are a thin ring of metal fitted around a tooth, typically a molar, that acts as an anchor for the brackets.
- Spacers – Spacers allow orthodontists to zero in on specific movements in the mouth to give teeth a little added guidance.
- Elastic Ties – This tiny rubber band helps to hold the archwire in the bracket. These come in a rainbow of colors so you can choose different ties each time they are replaced.
- Rubber Bands – Rubber bands, also called elastics, connect brackets using the small ball hooks to provide extra guidance on bringing the teeth and jaw into position. These bands vary in thickness and strength, and come in a variety of fun animal names to help you keep them straight.
Do braces hurt?
One of the many areas of improvement in the orthodontics field has been patient comfort. Today, braces are almost painless. Patients can expect some discomfort or soreness following appointments that involve adjusting appliances, wires, or bands as the teeth are actively moving. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Ibuprofen, taken before and after an appointment, can help minimize discomforts or soreness.
Occasionally a patient may lose a bracket or encounter a pokey wire, and sometimes this can cause pain. Orthodontic wax can help cover pokey wires until you get to your orthodontic office, and broken brackets should be kept in order to bond them back into place. It is important to follow your orthodontist’s guidelines on what you can and can’t eat, as most of these restrictions are in place to limit the breaking and/or dislodging of appliances.
How much do braces cost?
Your orthodontic consultation – including all of the imaging, like x-rays and 3D scans – is free. Our orthodontist will sit down with you to explain your individual treatment plan before you make the decision to commit to orthodontic treatment.
When it comes to costs for braces, cases are split into “comprehensive” and “limited” cases, depending on how much treatment the patient needs. Limited cases start at $3,000 while comprehensive cases range between $5,000 – $6,100.
While most first-time ortho patients will need a comprehensive treatment plan, there’s good news for adults returning for a second round of orthodontics – most of these cases end up being limited.
Dental Depot also offers in-house financing for braces up to 24 months. Additionally, third-party financing is available through Lending Point for longer financing terms.
Some dental insurance plans help cover the cost of braces, so be sure to provide your insurance information to our team prior to your consultation to see if you have orthodontic benefits available.
Does Soonercare pay for braces?
Patients with Soonercare under the age of 21 can complete a free orthodontic consultation to determine if orthodontic treatment is required. During this consultation, our orthodontic assistant will do an exam to see if the patient meets the criteria set by Soonercare. If the pre-authorization is approved, Soonercare will cover the total cost of orthodontic treatment. If the pre-authorization is denied, our office can help you determine which in-office or third-party financing option is best for you.