If you've always been self-conscious about a crooked or gappy smile, you may be wondering whether orthodontic treatment could help. However, if you have a public-facing job or are active in the dating world, you're likely reluctant to sign on for a year or more of visible metal braces. However, some recent advances to wireless brace technology could provide you with a nearly invisible alternative to traditional metal braces. Read on to learn more about wireless braces to determine whether this may be a good option for you.
What are wireless braces?
Traditional braces are composed of a number of metal fasteners affixed to each tooth and held together with wires and rubber bands. These wires are periodically tightened and adjusted to help your teeth shift into the proper position. This adjustment process can be uncomfortable, and patients are generally relegated to a soft foods-only diet for a few days following each procedure.
Wireless braces are simply that -- orthodontic braces that don't involve the use of wires to connect and shift teeth. Although these braces may look simply like a clear mouthguard or teeth whitening tray, like traditional braces, they also have tiny connectors that attach to posts affixed to specific teeth. These posts remain in place while you remove the braces to eat, chew, or brush your teeth, and can be reattached quickly once you place the brace tray back in your mouth. You'll generally be required to wear your brace tray for a minimum amount of time per day in order to help straighten your teeth according to the schedule set out by your orthodontist.
Do these braces have specific advantages or disadvantages for adults?
Although the ideal time for orthodontic tooth straightening through braces is generally between ages 10 to 14 (due to the location of certain teeth that may be harder to access once a patient is fully grown), orthodontic treatment at any age can be beneficial. Straightening crooked teeth can help improve your abilities to chew and speak and can even help prevent premature tooth loss.
Wireless braces in particular can offer a number of advantages for adults that aren't found with traditional braces. Aside from avoiding the dated or embarrassing appearance of metallic braces, adults are able to remove the brace tray for short periods of time -- ideal for presentations, business meetings, or other situations in which a streamlined appearance and clear enunciation are useful. Even when the tray is in place, it is essentially invisible to the naked eye. Today's wireless braces are made from a much thinner, lighter polymer than previous models, and many users have found it much less tempting to remove the tray.
These braces also usually don't require the frequent adjustment common with metal braces, helping cut down the number of orthodontist visits you'll need (and the corresponding amount of time you'll have to take off work) during the course of your treatment. If your dental insurance plan doesn't offer much coverage, reducing the number of orthodontist visits will also help reduce your out of pocket cost.
One potential disadvantage of wireless braces involves the permanency of corrections. Those who tend to remove their trays frequently during the day (or sleep without them at night) might find their teeth reverting to their "old" positions over time, making permanent correction more difficult. If you're not sure you can keep your wireless braces in for the majority of the day, or if you need a level of correction that can be difficult to achieve with wireless braces alone, you may need to begin your journey with wired braces and then transition to wireless once the major straightening work has been completed. Click here to find out more about what treatment plan will work best for you.