In recent years, invisible braces have become an increasingly popular option for people wanting to straighten their teeth and improve their smile without the wires, brackets, and physical discomfort of conventional metal braces. There are three different versions of invisible braces: Clear trays, lingual braces, and simple wire. Although there are aesthetic differences between these three invisible types, all of these options were designed to offer the same teeth straightening benefits associated with metal braces.
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The most popular version of invisible braces is clear trays, like those made by Invisalign. The reason Invisalign has become so respected in the orthodontic community is that clear trays offer a level of comfort and convenience not provided by regular braces.
More specifically, clear tray users have the ability to remove their trays before they eat, enabling individuals to eat the same foods they normally would. The biggest issue people have with regular braces is the dietary restrictions and limitations that come with wearing metal wires and brackets. Dentists recommend, for example, that people with braces avoid sticky foods, chewy substances, dishes with finely sliced meats and vegetables, and sugary beverages. With clear trays, though, all of these foods are allowed, provided you remove the trays before you eat.
Another huge benefit of clear trays is that they cause absolutely no pain and discomfort. Whereas metal wires have a tendency to poke at the gums and sides of the mouth, there is no poking, pulling, pain, or bleeding with clear trays.
The cost of clear trays is comparable to regular braces, as both teeth straightening options are in the neighborhood of $5,000. Depending on your dental insurance plan, though, some policies might not cover the cost of clear trays because it is considered a cosmetic procedure. In this case, clear trays can be much more expensive than metal braces.
From a hardware standpoint, lingual braces are identical to traditional braces. Instead of attaching them to the front of the teeth, though, orthodontists place lingual braces on the back (or the lingual side) of the teeth. The main benefit of lingual braces, of course, is that other people will remain unaware of your braces.
Lingual braces are an especially enticing option for working adults because orthodontists customize the wires and brackets to the patient’s unique mouth structure. And, as any working adult with braces knows, having a mouth full of metal carries a negative social stigma that lowers self-esteem and confidence. With lingual braces, however, adults can smile without fear of being ridiculed or made fun of.
Because lingual braces are placed on the back of the teeth, they require more time, as well as more skill, to safely apply. For these reasons, they are more expensive than traditional braces. However, they are usually less expensive than clear trays, especially if you have a good dental policy.
Simple Wire Appliance
Like lingual braces, simple wire braces are placed on the back of the teeth. Because this invisible braces option does not include the brackets found in lingual braces, simple wire braces carry the benefit of no dietary restrictions.
A disadvantage of simple wire braces is that they take longer to straighten the teeth because they cannot be modified or tightened as easily as conventional types of braces. However, this option is considerably cheaper than clear trays, and depending on your orthodontist, might be less expensive teeth straightening option than wire and brackets braces.