Braces in dentistry are known as orthodontic treatments. These treatments were developed over time to treat people who had issues with their bite and jaw function.
This page is a guide as to what modern braces systems are available in 2023 and how they work.
Braces are used to resolve issues of underbites and overbites causing jaw misalignment through the difference in the growth of the jaws. Combined with this, braces have now become a key part of cosmetic dentistry to resolve cosmetic issues such as overcrowding and crooked teeth, spacing between the teeth due to missing teeth or size differences between the teeth and jaws.
The good news is that with modern techniques there is always a solution to these cosmetic concerns and functional bite issues.
Today in 2023 there are more options for types of braces than ever before. Each person’s suitability for ‘which brace is right for you’ depends on your individual situation as not all braces are suitable to resolve every bite issue or cosmetic concern that you may have. Each brace has its own pros and cons; which may impact on your decision as to which is best for you relating to the speed of treatment, appearance of the brace and costs involved with each type of treatment.
Metal ‘Train Track’ Braces
This type of brace has fallen out of favour over the years due to the non-aesthetic look. This is the original classic brace type, with metal brackets and wires glued to the front tooth surface of the teeth and moved slowly by the wire. Special elastics hold the wire onto the bracket with coloured versions now also available to brighten the appearance and make it more of a fashion statement especially for teenagers. We don’t use this type of brace at Azure Dental but have included it here in our review for completeness.
Similar to metal braces with one key difference- the brackets are clear and therefore significantly more cosmetic. They can treat all the different types of cosmetic and bite issues for both short term braces (STO) type cases to improve your smile, as well as longer term bite treatment cases. They move the teeth much faster than other cosmetic brace options like Invisalign. The only real downside is that the clear elastics that hold the wire onto the brackets can stain depending on the diet each person eats and drinks- especially the currys! They are freshly changed at each review visit so this isn’t a big issue. As the teeth move so fast, within a few months you will be thrilled with the new appearance.
This newer type of brace is different to the above methods by using a series of clear aligners (thin removable trays). These clear braces are almost invisible and are easily removable for eating and drinking. Each aligner is computer designed, putting pressure on the teeth in a very specific way to create the movement desired. Then every 1-2 weeks you change for the next aligner in the series. The downside to Invisalign aligner braces is they tend to take up to twice as long to move the teeth, in the same type of cases compared with Ice clear braces. Cost wise they are in the region of 30-50% more due to the processing costs and require excellent wear commitment. Even though they are removable they need to be worn 20-22 hours per day- just being removed for eating and teeth cleaning.
This type of brace is placed on the back of the teeth (known as the lingual surface) against the tongue or palate. Again they are metal brackets and wires like the outside version but a different shape and style. The main advantage is they are not visible day to day given they are glued to the inner surfaces. But this does have knock on effects in the earlier stages as it can hurt the tongue and teeth while you get used to it. It is about 50% more expensive than outside braces due to the complexity of treatment and more frequent reviews for adjustments. It is also much less suitable for the more difficult complex cases.
Before you get braces it is important to have good oral health with no decay or gum issues. If these health issues are left unresolved then over the course of the brace treatment they will only progress and worsen. This therefore may mean having some preparatory health work such as a hygiene appointment or fillings if needed.
Putting the braces on typically takes between 45-90minutes depending on the type of brace chosen for the treatment and whether you are treating one or both arches of teeth. Each brace is made to fit/ positioned tooth by tooth individually so no two people are ever the same.
The process for an Ice clear brace follows these steps-
The process for Lingual braces is similar but requires more time and expertise. Quite often the positioning of the brackets is planned on models first and then the brackets are transferred to the mouth with special trays to keep this correct positioning.
Invisalign is similar again. But instead of brackets being applied to the teeth with glue, the special attachments designed and located to help the clear aligners move your teeth are placed using a special transfer tray. They are then perfectly positioned for the Invisalign tray to put the correct pressure on them.
With the Ice clear braces we arrange reviews around every 4 weeks as this is the right sort of time to make the necessary adjustments to the wires and bands to keep the teeth moving smoothly. Invisalign review appointments tend to be around every 6-8 weeks to check on the tooth movement and make any space adjustments.
The brackets and wires are removed and then the glue is polished off with a special tool to refinish the front surface so it is nicely polished again. The Invisalign attachments are removed in the same way. Once everything is cleaned up, we can then review the incsial edges of the front teeth for any contouring that may be needed to improve the aesthetic appearance from wear and chips. This is when we can fully assess the tooth shapes for any required composite bonding to finish off the teeth perfectly.
Before the brace is removed we will fit a fixed wire retainer onto the backs of the front teeth using the same glue used for the brackets. Hidden on the inside surfaces it can’t be seen but it ensures that the front teeth are suported and stable immediately once the brace is removed. This is vital to the success and stability of the smile. We will also take a final impression to have a night time removable ‘Essix’ retainer made to back up the fixed wire and keep the overall broader smile achieved.
This is called belt and braces retention to keep things perfectly in line. Long term (lifetime) retention is crucial if you want to keep your teeth straight. Teeth will always want to move with the amount of pressure present in your mouth. Retainers usually need maintenance and repair from time to time with replacement ‘Essix’ retainers usually in a 12-18 month basis, often depending on each person’s natural grinding habit.
As you will always need retainers we include both fixed and removable retainers as part of all our brace packages and don’t add extra fees on for these at the end.
Braces have varying costs depending on the type of brace being used and the extent of treatment you individually require. Generally Ice Clear Braces are between £2000-£3000 for an average 6-9 month case (the main difference being whether just one or both arches are being treated). With longer more complex cases quoted based on the likely increased treatment need. Invisalign cases similarly differ based on the type of case you are- i7/Lite/Full as to the extent of treatment and number of aligners being manufactured, along with the surgery time involved. The fees are usually between £2500-£4500, again varying with whether you are treating one or both arches. As a guide most people tend to be in the middle due to the type of case/ number of clear aligner stages required, which is determined by the pre-treatment computer simulated design planning.
If you have any concerns or issues with regards to missing teeth, loose teeth or dentures
and are looking at the potential solution of dental implant treatment then please get in touch.
Implants are a very predictable treatment option. They have good long term success rates but require regular care and maintenance to ensure they remain healthy for as long as possible.
Implants are generally placed under local anaesthetic. Once numb treatment is carried out with the very minimum of discomfort.
No, your dentist will show you how to clean any hard to reach areas around the implant. But you’ll mostly clean them as you would your normal teeth.
Dental implants are designed to provide a long term solution to your gap(s). They require less frequent replacement than other solutions such as dentures or bridgework, making them an overall cost-effective solution to replace a missing tooth (teeth).
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