Choosing the right type of braces for your situation can be tough, especially when you need to choose between ceramic braces and other options.
Your orthodontist will let you know if you’re a candidate for fixed or removable braces, which narrows it down. But ultimately, you’re the one making the final decision.
Are ceramic braces all they’re cracked up to be? They do have some issues you should know about. So if you’re considering ceramic braces, here are some things you should know so you can make an informed choice.
1. Are Clear Braces Safe?
Safety should be at the top of our minds, always. Ceramic braces are made from a safe, biocompatible material and work using gentle forces, just like normal braces.
However, like any orthodontic treatment, there are risks of minor complications such as tooth decay or discoloration (if you’re not brushing enough). This can happen with regular braces too, but since ceramic braces are bigger and harder to clean, it’s increasing the risk for cavities.
The other risk is breakage. Ceramic brackets are notorious for breaking during their removal, leaving behind small splinters that need to be removed with a high-speed bur. Ceramic braces can indirectly cause enamel scratches if not handled properly.
2. Do Clear Braces Work?
Clear braces are almost as effective as traditional metal braces in treating most orthodontic issues. They use the same mechanism of applying pressure to teeth using brackets, wires, and ligatures.
The problem with ceramic brackets is they’re much more fragile. They break more easily, especially their hooks, which means we need to replace them periodically. This can be inconvenient and even affect treatment duration and complexity.
However, treatment results are the same, regardless of using metal or ceramic braces. Ceramic braces are capable of the same alignment, expansion, and gap closure.
3. Do Ceramic Braces Take Longer?
Ceramic braces typically take 12-36 months to straighten teeth. The actual treatment time can vary depending on individual cases and how severe the misalignment is. More complicated cases may take closer to the 3-year mark.
One reason ceramic braces might take longer is due to friction. The brackets of ceramic braces aren’t as smooth as metal ones, creating more friction against the wires. This increased friction can slow down the movement of your teeth, making the treatment take a bit longer.
Another issue with ceramic braces is that they are more prone to breaking. The hooks and wings on the brackets can break when you eat hard foods or if you brush too vigorously. If they break, it’s harder to place the ligatures (the small bands that hold the wire in place), which can delay your treatment.
Studies on whether ceramic braces are slower than metal ones show mixed results. Some studies suggest they might take a little longer, but the difference isn’t usually significant. In my practice, I did find treatment to be longer with ceramic brackets, but it’s still a subjective observation.
4. Are Ceramic Braces Painful?
Ceramic braces, just like metal braces, can cause a bit of discomfort, but they are not generally more painful.
When you first get them or after they are tightened, you might feel some soreness as your teeth start to move. This is common with all types of braces and usually goes away after a few days.
However, there is a difference when it comes to removing them. Ceramic braces stick to your teeth really well. Because of this strong bond, you might feel a bit more discomfort when they are taken off compared to metal braces. This is especially true for your front teeth.
When the ceramic brackets are being removed, or ‘debonded’, from these sensitive teeth, it can feel a bit more uncomfortable. But remember, this part of the treatment doesn’t last long, and many find the benefits of ceramic braces worth this brief discomfort.
5. Are Clear Braces Bulkier?
Ceramic braces are indeed bulkier than their metal counterparts. This extra size is because the ceramic material needs to be thicker for strength. For those choosing self-ligating braces (SLBs), the size difference can be more noticeable, sometimes even twice as large as standard metal braces.
It’s important to remember that the size of ceramic braces varies depending on the brand. So, if you’re considering them, it’s a good idea to ask your orthodontist to show you some samples. This way, you can get a better idea of how they look and feel.
Some brands, particularly the self-ligating ones, can protrude more, causing the lips to stick out a bit. This is something many patients notice and sometimes find uncomfortable. There can be a bit of difficulty in closing the lips completely over the braces.
If you have smaller teeth or your teeth already protrude a bit, ceramic braces might not be the best choice. They can add to the protrusion, making it more pronounced. When choosing braces, it’s important to consider not just the appearance, but also the comfort and how they fit with your teeth’s shape and size.
6. Are Ceramic Braces More Expensive?
Ceramic braces are indeed more expensive than traditional metal braces, mainly because of the materials used. Clear braces use a special type of ceramic that is both strong and aesthetically pleasing, blending in with your teeth. This material is costlier to produce compared to the metal in traditional braces.
The price of ceramic braces varies depending on your location and the complexity of your dental treatment. Typically, they can cost between $4,000 and $8,000. This is about $1,000 to $2,000 more than metal braces, which usually range from $3,000 to $6,000. Remember, these are average figures and the actual cost can differ based on your specific situation.
Dental insurance might not always cover the cost of ceramic braces since they’re often seen as a cosmetic option. However, many orthodontists offer payment plans to help manage the expense.
7. Are Ceramic Braces Worth It?
Deciding whether ceramic braces are worth it depends on what you’re looking for in your orthodontic treatment. Ceramic braces have their pros and cons. They’re less noticeable than metal braces, which is a big plus for many people. But, they do have some downsides.
They can stain, especially if you don’t take care of them properly or consume a lot of pigmented foods and drinks. They’re also more prone to breaking compared to metal braces. This means you might need extra visits to the orthodontist for repairs.
If you have small teeth, ceramic braces might not be the best choice. Their slightly bulkier size can take up too much space on smaller teeth. Also, if your orthodontic case is complicated and the treatment is expected to last over two years, maintaining your clear braces clean and intact can be a challenging task.
For more insights on this topic, don’t forget to check out our other articles on “Do Clear Braces Stain Easily?” and “Are Clear Braces Noticeable? How To Keep Them Pristine” to help you make a well-informed decision.
Whether you’re new to braces or a braces veteran, taking care of your teeth and gums during orthodontic treatment is crucial. That’s why I’ve put together a list of orthodontist-recommended tools that will make caring for your braces a breeze:
Looking for advice, a second opinion & support on your braces journey? Join the Facebook group!