Ceramic braces (Clear braces) : An aesthetic alternative to metal dental braces.
What are ceramic braces?
Ceramic braces (including "clear braces") are a treatment option that helps to create a more pleasing, less conspicuous appearance for orthodontic patients.
The primary difference between ceramic and traditional braces has to do with the type of orthodontic brackets that are bonded to the patient's teeth.
With ceramic braces, the brackets are clear or tooth-colored, not metal. (With both methods, there's still a metal wire that runs across the patient's teeth that's held in place using elastic bands.)
This difference in the color of the brackets really does help to make it less obvious to others that a person is wearing braces, especially at a distance. And that's why ceramic braces are a very popular treatment option.
What are clear braces?
Clear braces are simply one type of ceramic braces. With clear braces, the specific type of bracket that's been placed is one that has a very high degree of translucency (is very clear), as opposed to a more whitish, tooth-colored shade. In all other ways, ceramic and clear dental braces are the same thing.
Which should you have placed, regular ceramic or clear braces?
You'll need to quiz your orthodontist about which brands of brackets they use and how well they will blend in with the color of your teeth.
Basic guidelines for choosing ceramic vs clear brackets.
In general, if your teeth are very light, more translucent (clearer) ceramic brackets will usually create the best look (least obvious). For teeth that have a normal to dark coloration, brackets that are tooth-colored may provide the better match.
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What are some of the brand names associated with ceramic dental braces?
Here's a compilation of some of the companies that manufacture ceramic orthodontic brackets. Next to each company we've listed the brand name of the brackets they make.
You may have heard of some of these brands, primarily through their advertising campaigns. But don't expect you dentist to be overly influenced by that.
They know that in appearance many of these brands are very similar. They also know, through experience and product reputation among dentists, that subtle differences do exist. For this reason, an orthodontist may choose to use only one, or just a few, of these brands.
What are ceramic and clear braces made out of?
Most ceramic orthodontic brackets are made out of either polycrystalline or monocrystalline alumina. The primary difference between these two materials is their optical clarity.
Monocrystalline alumina brackets have a more translucent (clearer) appearance where as the polycrystalline ones are more whitish (tooth-colored). The monocrystalline form is sometimes referred to as monocrystalline sapphire.
These forms of alumina are used because they have superior physical strength and favorable optical and aesthetic properties. Since these ceramics are non-porous, they are also resistant to staining and absorbing odors.
Plastic orthodontic brackets.
The first tooth-colored orthodontic brackets were made out of plastic (acrylic, polycarbonate). And due to the nature of these materials they had a number of inherent problems.
Plastic brackets had a tendency to stain, trap odor, deform or fracture and experience bonding failure. Thanks to the introduction of modern ceramic braces (which have superior physical characteristics), plastic brackets are no longer used.