Ceramic braces, also known as clear braces, have been on the market for decades. Although they’ve become less popular since the rise of clear aligner products like Invisalign and SmileDirectClub, they remain a great option for adults seeking relatively discreet orthodontic treatment.
Ceramic braces offer patients a less visible form of braces that is still comprehensive and capable of correcting a wide variety of alignment issues. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the major pros and cons of ceramic braces and help you decide whether they’re the right choice for your teeth.
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Ceramic vs. Traditional Braces: What’s the Difference?
Like traditional metal braces, ceramic braces still require regular trips to the orthodontist. The extra one-on-one time allows for a more tailored treatment plan and added customization. This ensures quality results and a low risk of relapse (your teeth moving back to their original position). Ceramic braces also typically require about the same treatment time as braces, at around 18-24 months.
The main differences between ceramic and traditional braces come down to aesthetics, cost, comfort, and maintenance. Depending on your priorities, you may find ceramic braces to be more convenient and suitable for your lifestyle.
While traditional braces are quite bulky and highly visible, ceramic braces sport clear brackets and white or tooth-colored wires, as opposed to shiny metal. Because of their transparent nature, ceramic braces tend to blend in with the teeth and are more difficult to detect. This is often a huge perk for adults who want a thorough treatment option, without the typical look of braces.
Unfortunately, because almost every aspect of ceramic braces is clear or translucent, they tend to stain very easily. Patients with traditional metal braces do not experience this issue. Also, ceramic braces have slightly larger brackets than traditional braces. However, since the brackets are clear, this is typically not considered to be a deal-breaker.
Ceramic braces employ the use of a more advanced material than their traditional counterparts. So, it makes sense that the average cost of treatment for ceramic braces is slightly higher. Opting for the nearly invisible, clear brackets comes at a price. The average cost of treatment for ceramic braces is about $6,000, about $1,000 more than traditional braces.
Still, for some people, the low-profile aspect of ceramic braces is well worth the higher cost. If you’re the type of person who may feel embarrassed to have traditional metal braces as an adult, ceramic braces could be a great alternative.
One of the most significant drawbacks to traditional braces is discomfort. Traditional braces’ metal brackets can be irritating and may rub against the lips, causing some pain and scratching. Ceramic braces, on the other hand, are made of more innovative material and are generally considered to be the more comfortable option.
The material used to make ceramic braces is much less abrasive and typically provides a more comfortable experience overall. Ceramic brackets won’t aggravate your gums or leave the inside of your cheeks feeling chafed. In fact, most patients only experience pain after tightening appointments, and even then, it’s usually very manageable.
As we previously mentioned, ceramic braces have clear brackets and tooth-colored or transparent wires. Because of this, they are very prone to staining. Patients with ceramic braces should avoid food or drinks that will likely cause stains, such as red wine and coffee. However, if you can’t live without your morning coffee, rinsing your mouth with water and brushing your teeth immediately after will help to ward off stains. Smoking is also highly discouraged and may cause your brackets and wires to become yellow or brown in appearance.
If you decide to get ceramic braces, increased attention to detail when brushing and flossing is imperative. Patients are recommended to brush 3-4 times per day and floss at least once daily. If you think that this will be too much of a commitment, it may be beneficial to consider a more low maintenance treatment option.
Who Is A Good Candidate For Ceramic Braces?
Ceramic braces are offered as a viable treatment option for anyone who has all of their adult teeth and has generally stopped growing. They’re an excellent choice for someone seeking a less noticeable form of braces and less discomfort. People who value one-on-one time with an orthodontist will also appreciate the fact that ceramic braces still require regular office visits throughout treatment. The primary purpose of these visits is to tighten your braces. However, you’ll also have a chance to ask your orthodontist questions and let them know if you’re experiencing any abnormal pain or irritation.
Mild-to-moderate spacing and crowding are typically easily corrected with ceramic braces. However, patients with more severe alignment or bite issues may not be a good fit. The clear brackets used for treatment are less durable than those used for traditional braces and tend to break more easily. Severe misalignments may put too much pressure on the brackets and cause them to break, delaying or even preventing appropriate treatment.
Smokers and people who have poor oral hygiene are also discouraged from getting ceramic braces, due to their tendency to stain. Ceramic braces are best for people who already brush and floss regularly and won’t have a hard time incorporating the extra effort into their oral hygiene routine.
Other Discreet Treatment Options
Ceramic braces are popular because they offer most of the benefits of traditional braces without being highly noticeable. Still, ceramic braces are not the perfect fit for everyone. If you think that you won’t be able to manage the increased maintenance or higher cost of treatment, you may want to look into alternative options. There are plenty of orthodontic treatments on the market that are still discreet, but also cheaper or more convenient.
Lingual braces look very similar to traditional braces but are placed behind the teeth, making them almost invisible. There are two types of lingual braces- incognito and standard. Standard lingual braces use “one-size-fits-all” brackets, which are applied to the back of the teeth. Incognito lingual braces are much more popular and are customized to fit perfectly along the back of your teeth.
The biggest advantage of lingual braces is the hidden aspect of treatment. Lingual braces are very hard to detect in the mouth and are definitely the more inconspicuous option. Unfortunately, though, lingual braces can be challenging to clean and may irritate your tongue and gums. Lingual braces are also a much more expensive option, at around $8,000 – $10,000.
Invisalign is the original clear aligner treatment. The aligners should be worn for 22 hours per day. However, they can be removed whenever necessary, making Invisalign considerably more convenient than both ceramic and lingual braces. Invisalign can correct most cases of crowding and spacing. But, people with severe cases of misalignment or moderate-to-severe bite issues may not be a good candidate.
A typical patient will usually wear their Invisalign aligners for about 18 months before completing treatment, just slightly less than the treatment time required for ceramic braces. Treatment with Invisalign is also cheaper than ceramic braces, at about $3,000 – $5,000 on average.
Home Teeth Aligners
Home teeth alignment products like SmileDirectClub are very similar to Invisalign, but treatment is administered from the comfort of your home. Rather than visiting a dentist or orthodontist in person, home aligner patients simply take dental impressions at home and send them to their chosen provider for analysis and approval. Once approved, the company customizes the aligners based on the patient’s impressions and sends the aligners to their door. Treatment with home aligners typically takes between 3-6 months (depending on the provider you choose).
Due to the lack of in-person dental visits, home teeth aligners are the cheapest option on this list, running $1,900 on average for a full course of treatment. That said, not all home aligners are created equal. Each company has its unique perks — for instance, byte offers the shortest average treatment time (only 3 months) while Candid offers free teeth scanning as an alternative to taking dental impressions at home. To learn more about the various providers, check out our comprehensive comparison.
Ceramic braces are a great option for adults seeking a less noticeable (but still comprehensive) treatment alternative to traditional braces. That said, they aren’t the right choice for everyone. While clear brackets and tooth-colored wires may be tempting features, these perks come with a higher price point and a bit more upkeep.
If you’re the type of person who values convenience first, a more easy-going option like home aligners or Invisalign may be a better fit for you. Before you decide to get ceramic braces, it’s best to schedule a consultation with a dentist to discuss your options and make sure you’re choosing the best treatment for your teeth!