Are There Risks With Getting Clear Braces?

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First, in the interest of full disclosure, I need to let you know that my practice is currently almost entirely made up of patients with “clear” braces. This is different than clear aligners which aren’t braces at all. While clear braces have many upsides, there are some legitimate drawbacks that one needs to be aware of. So, you’re going to learn about clear braces, what makes them different and why I would choose to offer them.

Let’s start with a little background information.  Orthodontic “brackets” are the little things that we cement or bond to a tooth. They act as steering wheel of sorts, allowing the orthodontic wire somewhere to sit as it goes back to its straight, flat original shape, guiding the tooth while it does so. Brackets come in metal, plastic and numerous varieties of what you might call “glass”. The glass, or ceramic brackets come in many different formulations, touted by their manufacturers as having unique advantages such as color matching or durability. However, unlike their metal counterparts, ceramic brackets have some inherent potential problems.

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Notice that the wire goes into the bracket and as it straightens out, the bracket acts as a steering wheel.

Due to the fact that the ceramic brackets are, um, ceramic, they can chip or break. They can also be abrasive to the opposing teeth, so some types of clear brackets on the lower can actually accelerate wear of an upper tooth that might be biting onto it.

One of the other huge problems associated with clear brackets and why many orthodontists don’t like working with them is the fact that they are extremely tough to take off. It all stems from the fact that ceramic doesn’t flex. Metal brackets come off because when we squeeze them (note: we don’t “pull” them off the tooth) the bracket flexes and pops off the tooth. If the ceramic brackets don’t flex, how do we get them off? Either break them off in pieces or drill them off.

You may now be asking: “So, doc, why again do you use these devilish types of brackets?”

There’s one company that I believe has solved many of the problems associated with ceramic brackets and without them, I would be using clear  brackets. 3M (a pretty well known company for turning out solid products) created their Clarity Advanced bracket. It’s not only the best looking (i.e.-almost invisible) clear bracket, but it rarely breaks or chips. It also comes with a predesigned cleave line down the inside of it and using a special instrument, one can watch the bracket collapse on itself and almost simply fall of when we’re done using it. Best of all, it comes with a specially designed 3M adhesive (they’re known for their innovative adhesives) that allows this bracket to stay on really well and have so little excess that it shortens placement time and helps keep the tooth from attracting a lot of plaque. Hygienists from general dentists who clean my patients’ teeth often tell me how much cleaner their teeth are when compared to other clear brackets that they see.

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You may wonder why everyone doesn’t use these amazing 3M Clarity Advanced brackets. After all, they stay on well, don’t chip or crack easily, don’t wear down the opposing teeth more than the metal brackets, come off easily and help reduce plaque levels. The reason is cost. They are way more expensive than other clear brackets and many doctors (understandably) don’t want to spend the money, but when my kids needed braces, I used the 3M Clarity Advanced brackets. When dental professionals learn about these brackets, they ask me to use them in their treatment. Once you see them in action, you can understand why I like them so much.

Clear braces are an awesome alternative to metal and clear aligner treatment, but not all brackets are created equal. When you ask for clear brackets ask to see pictures of patients wearing them. Ask about how they come off and if they chip or wear down the opposing teeth. I’ve had numerous orthodontists unnecessarily “bad mouth” clear braces because they were using braces that weren’t that good looking or had other compromises. Just know that there is an answer out there for beautiful, long lasting and safe clear braces.

If you ever have a question, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Doc@KriegerOrthodontics.com .

All the best,

Glenn

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