- Published Date: 10 Aug 2021
- Updated Date: 10 Aug 2021
- Reading Time: 4 min
A few years ago, metal braces were by far the most widely used orthodontic option. Recent advances in technology and orthodontic treatment design have resulted in a number of alternative brace options on the market. Options include ceramic braces, metal braces, or even clear aligners.
With so many choices, working out which type of braces are going to be best can be a challenge. To make decision-making easier, we’ve put together a comprehensive comparison between metal braces and ceramic braces, giving you the information you need to select braces that are going to work well for you.
The considerations we look at include the appearance of the braces, the process for fitting them, how long they take to work, and how comfortable they are to wear. We also take a look at clear aligners – made from polycarbonate, these offer an alternative form of braces for people wanting something different from metal or ceramic orthodontic correctional devices.
A Comparison of the Features of Metal Braces vs Ceramic Braces
Metal Braces – These consist of metal brackets that are glued to each of the teeth. The brackets are attached to wires that are anchored to the molars at the back of the mouth. Elastic bands hold the wires onto the brackets.
Ceramic Braces – This type of brace is applied in the same way as a metallic brace. The difference is that the brackets are made from clear, tooth-coloured ceramic. The rubber bands are also clear or tooth coloured.
Once fitted by your orthodontist, both metal and ceramic braces are permanent. They can only be removed by an orthodontist, except in an emergency.
Metal Braces – An extremely obvious orthodontic treatment, the coloured rubber bands that some patients select can make them even more visible.
Ceramic Braces – These are far more discreet. If you prefer your orthodontic treatment to be less visible, ceramic braces could work well. They are still visible at close-quarters, but not immediately obvious to the casual observer.
It’s important that people with ceramic braces really keep on top of their oral hygiene, as there is a risk that the ceramic will become discoloured over time. Some ceramic brace patients try and avoid food and beverages such as turmeric, red wine, or coffee. Tobacco (whether smoked or chewed) can also increase the risk of discoloured ceramic braces (as well as being bad for your health).
Metal Braces – Although the braces can feel sore when newly adjusted, if they are fitted correctly, ongoing discomfort is usually fairly minimal.
Ceramic Braces – The same applies to ceramic braces, with the added caveat that ceramic brackets are slightly thicker than metal brackets. The added width may cause the brackets to feel more intrusive than a metal option.
Metal Braces – It’s vital to establish a good dental hygiene routine before getting metal braces fitted. The brackets and wires can make it easier for food to get trapped, increasing the risk of sugar build-up that can lead to decay, cavities and gum disease. Wearers of metal braces need to maintain their hygiene rigorously, as well as schedule regular checks to ensure their teeth and gums remain in good condition.
Ceramic Braces – In the same way as wearers of metal braces need to pay particular attention to their oral hygiene, ceramic brace wearers also need to keep their teeth and gums clean and well-maintained. In terms of the likelihood of decay, ceramic braces have no clear advantage (or disadvantage) over metal options.
Metal Braces – These are usually the cheapest type of brace available. Metal braces are a well-established option for orthodontic treatment.
Ceramic Braces – The manufacturing process for ceramic brackets is slightly more expensive than that for metal braces. Patients also pay a premium for the less visible nature of the braces.
There is also variation between orthodontic practices in the amount that they charge for braces.
Both ceramic and metal braces have similar levels of convenience. Once fitted, they are both permanent treatments that can’t be removed. This may create problems with eating, maintaining oral hygiene and even speaking clearly, particularly in the first week following fitting or a routine visit to have the wires tightened.
Duration of Treatment
Most people will have to wear braces for somewhere between one and three years. There appears to be no particular difference between ceramic braces and metal braces in terms of duration.
Effectiveness of Treatment
For the majority of treatment options, ceramic and metal braces have a similar level of effectiveness.
Clear Braces Alternatives
If you are looking for an alternative to conventional metal or ceramic braces that delivers a similar level of effectiveness but has a number of other benefits, why not take a look at clear braces?
Clear braces are made of polycarbonate (a tough plastic). They are completely transparent and use clear wires (ceramic braces use conventional wires). The result is braces that are virtually invisible. As well as clear braces (that are similar to ceramic braces in style, fitting process and other characteristics), it’s also possible to order clear aligners.
The Benefits of Clear Aligners
As effective as braces in correcting orthodontic problems, clear aligners have several other advantages.
- Clear aligners are removable – patients can take them out whilst eating or at night (although it’s recommended to keep them in as much as possible for a faster effect).
- Clear aligners make it easier to keep oral hygiene levels high, reducing the risk of plaque and de-calcification, both of which are common problems wearers of braces.
- If you want a more comfortable alternative to braces, an aligner could be perfect. It has no wire ends to chafe the teeth or gums, and patients can take it out for a while if it gets uncomfortable, as well as get used to wearing it gradually.
- Although the cost of clear aligners may be a little more than clear braces cost, you can reduce the price by shopping for clear aligners online.
Order your clear aligners – the effective, comfortable and virtually invisible alternative to traditional metal or ceramic braces.
HH-IV-59 2/80, Revised 4/10 Copyright 1980-2010, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
D. (2021b, February 5). What you need to know about Braces Cost in Canada. GroupEnroll.Ca. https://groupenroll.ca/what-you-need-to-know-about-braces-cost-in-canada/