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Ceramic Braces vs Metal Brackets

Ceramic Braces vs Metal Brackets

Braces used to be reserved for teens whose parents decided they needed a perfect smile. These days it’s becoming more common to see adults with braces, hoping they will straighten their teeth and give them a perfect smile. Despite that popularity, no one wants to be seen with a mouth full of metal.

Ceramic braces with tooth-colored brackets are one answer to that problem. They’re less noticeable and less embarrassing. However, they may not be the best choice for everyone.

Key Takeaways: Ceramic Braces

What Are Ceramic Braces?

Ceramic braces are exactly what they sound like: braces that use ceramic brackets rather than metal brackets. Like traditional metal braces, brackets are fixed to teeth and connected by wires and rubber bands to pull teeth straight. However, the ceramic material can be colored or even translucent, allowing a more discreet appearance.

Orthodontic treatment has several different varieties of clear braces available, including clear aligners and braces with clear brackets. Ceramic braces combine durability with low visibility. Lingual braces, placed on the inner, tongue side of the teeth, can also be ceramic. 

Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of ceramic braces.

ceramic braces

Pros

Cons

Should I Get Ceramic Braces?

There are a few factors that will determine if ceramic brackets are a good option for you. Some of the more important considerations when choosing between metal or ceramic braces include:

  • Aesthetic concerns.
  • Allergen concerns.
  • Metal toxicity concerns.
  • The durability of braces.

Aesthetics

Obviously, the big selling point for these types of braces is the aesthetics. They simply look better than metal braces and are less noticeable. You can also add some color if you’re looking for something more flamboyant. Most people who choose ceramic braces do so for this reason.

Allergen and Toxicity

It’s rarely a concern, but metal braces can have some unpleasant side effects. Nickel and chromium, two common components of stainless steel brackets, are also the most common causes of metal-related allergic responses. Nickel has also been found to have some very minor toxic effects, which can be dangerous to people with compromised immune systems [1].

Durability of Braces

Ceramic, tooth-colored brackets are harder and stronger than metal braces. They can take a little bit more punishment than metal braces. However, when ceramic does fail, it will break and shatter [2]. On the other hand, traditional metal braces will bend out of shape but are usually still intact.

For that reason, ceramic braces might be a better option for adults as they are less likely to be hard on them. Athletes or other active people may also want to steer clear.

Are Ceramic Braces Comfortable?

Wearing braces of any design is uncomfortable. A whole bunch of stuff that isn’t supposed to be there is now taking up room in your mouth. There are spots where the soft parts of your mouth can catch or be scratched. Metal and ceramic braces are no different.

However, dental braces have been getting smaller and less obtrusive as time goes on. Lingual braces can be less uncomfortable. Probably the least uncomfortable are clear aligners like Byte, which can be taken out.

Ceramic Braces vs Metal Braces

Ceramic braces tend to be more aesthetically pleasing, but frequently other considerations end up having more impact on your choice. Admittedly, there is a lot of overlap between these metal and ceramic brackets when it comes to how braces work. The straightening process is more or less the same, whether you go for metal ones or ceramic braces.

Metal wires and rubber bands are involved, and hopefully, at the end, you have perfectly straight teeth. However, there is more that sets them apart than the metallic taste.

Cost and Insurance Coverage

Ceramic braces are typically covered by insurance. They are a type of orthodontic treatment, meaning it’s administered and supervised by a qualified orthodontist, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t be covered. However, ceramic braces cost more than metal braces.

Length of Treatment

As we mentioned, how braces work, whatever their material, is pretty much the same. Treatment time will be the same for both metal braceand ceramic braces, usually between one and three years [3]

Maintenance

While metal is actually a less durable material, in many ways, it’s easier to maintain. Ceramic braces are made from high-quality materials that are very hard and therefore rugged. However, broken brackets are possible and more difficult to replace.

Oral hygiene is also a little more challenging with ceramic braces. It’s important to brush and floss regularly, as orthodontic treatment leads to a higher chance of cavities or infection. Keeping them clean is as important a part of how braces work as the wire and rubber bands.

Do Ceramic Braces Turn Yellow?

While the point is to blend in with your teeth, it’s true that ceramic braces stain, unlike traditional metal braces made with stainless steel [4]. Foods like red wine may change the color of the brackets slightly over time, making them more visible. More durable stainless steel won’t stain.

Whitening toothpaste will remove the stain from the brackets, but it is probably better to wait until they’re removed. If you use a whitening toothpaste or other product with braces, a stained spot will be left behind when the brackets are removed. Additionally, the elastic bands that are used stain easily, though they are regularly replaced.

Durability

It might not make a lot of sense at first, but because ceramic is harder, in many ways, it is less durable than metal. Metal braces may bend and deform, but it can be put back into place. When ceramic fails, it cracks and breaks. Even orthodontists have to be careful, as getting too enthusiastic with adjusting archwires can cause brackets to break.

This is particularly concerning as broken brackets have to be replaced. Removing ceramic brackets is more difficult and more likely to damage the tooth enamel.

Before and After

There should be no major difference after treatment. Crowded teeth should be spaced out and straightened, leaving you with a healthy smile [5]. Due to how braces work, you’ll need to wear a retainer after the braces are removed, whatever material was used.

Ceramic Braces vs Clear Aligners

In the last few years, removable aligners made of clear plastic have become more popular. They can be used to straighten teeth without any metal wires or elastic ties. Additionally, because they use clear plastic, they are even harder to see than ceramic braces.

Invisalign is one option that has been available for years. It’s an option that is similar in many ways to braces. The cost is less but still quite expensive, and it requires regular visits for orthodontic care.

There are a few Invisalign alternatives that make clear aligners a lot less expensive and easier to get. Home aligners such as Byte have you take a tooth impression at home and send it in, after which they send the aligners directly to your door. While there are some significant limitations on what they can do, at-home clear aligners are a good alternative for many people.

Are Clear Aligners Better than Braces?

For some people, clear aligners are indeed better than braces. Being removable, they are easier to clean than traditional braces. As a result, gum disease and tooth decay are less likely. 

Clear aligners are limited in that they can’t be used if a severe correction is required. Both metal and ceramic braces are better options for serious misalignments.

If you think clear aligners might work for you, it might be worth taking a deeper look. Byte clear aligners are among the pricier clear aligners, but still far less expensive than braces. Additionally, they use some fancy technology so that their treatment time is only a few months. Find out more by reading our Byte Aligners review.

Another option is AlignerCo, which offers a less expensive option, but can take much longer than Byte. Learn more about them by checking out our AlignerCo review.

How to Care for Ceramic Braces

Follow a few simple rules, and you’re much more likely to have a positive experience with ceramic braces. 

ceramic braces
  • Brush and floss at least once a day. Don’t skip the floss!
  • Avoid sticky foods like gum.
  • Avoid foods that might stain, like red wine, coffee, or fruit juice.
  • Make regular appointments with your orthodontist.
  • Avoid contact sports or other activities that may stress your braces.

Color Options

While blending into the background is one of the selling points for ceramic braces, you actually have the option of adding some color, too. Both the brackets and the elastic bands can be a whole rainbow of colors, including darker and lighter shades. In fact, there’s no reason all of the brackets have to be the same color, so you could have a rainbow in your mouth if you wanted.

If you’re not too interested in showing your colorful side, however, there are also options that can make the braces even less noticeable. In particular, tooth-coloured wires can be used instead of regular metallic ones.

FAQ

If you’re looking for some simple answers, check out these direct answers to a few common questions.

Are Clear Braces the Same as Ceramic?

Probably not. There is some overlap in terminology, so clear braces can mean one of several things. Ceramic braces are translucent and blend in with the color of the tooth but aren’t really clear. Clear ceramic braces or plastic brackets that are clear are available, as well.

When most people ask about clear braces, though, they’re talking about clear aligners. The classic example is Invisalign, though there are many less expensive options out there, like Byte, as well.

Which Is Cheaper, Clear Braces or Invisalign?

Clear alignment methods are a fraction of the cost of braces or Invisalign, on the other hand. Braces can cost $6,000 or more, while Invisalign is slightly less expensive at around $5500. Byte clear aligners, on the other hand, are less than $2000 [6].

Do Ceramic Braces Take Longer?

The treatment time should be the same as with standard metal braces. Clear aligners usually take only a few months. For example, the average treatment time for Byte is 2–4 months.

How Quickly Do Braces Start Working?

Usually, braces have to stay on for at least a year. The length of treatment depends on a variety of factors, such as the severity of misalignment. When you get braces, your orthodontist will have a plan that will give you an estimate of the length of treatment.

Conclusion

It’s not vanity to want a straighter, more attractive smile, whatever your age. Ceramic braces offer a discreet way to get the results you’re looking for, however crowded your teeth may be. On the other hand, if you’re wanting to make a few less serious changes, spending a few months with clear aligners might be more comfortable.

References:

  1. Priyanka, S, et al. “Complications of Ceramic BRackets.” Ebscohost, Drug Intervention Today, 2018, jprsolutions.info/files/final-file-5c039ac08f6058.91453708.pdf.
  2. “Ceramic Brackets.” JCO Online, www.jco-online.com/archive/1988/02/82-ceramic-brackets/.
  3. Jr, John, et al. “Home.” Iranian Journal of Orthodontics, Kowsar, 19 June 2021, sites.kowsarpub.com/ijo/articles/115974.html.
  4. Axante, Anca, et al. Color Variation Assessment of Esthetic Braces. Romanian Journal of Oral Rehabilitaion, Oct. 2014, www.rjor.ro/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/COLOR-VARIATION-ASSESSMENT-OF-ESTHETIC-BRACES.pdf.
  5. Gonzalez-Gonzalez, Ignacio, et al. “Complications of Fixed Full-Arch Implant-Supported Metal-Ceramic Prostheses.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 14 June 2020, www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/12/4250/htm.
  6. Anderson, Eric, et al. A Comparative Expected Cost Analysis Study on Dental Services and Products Used in the United States. Account and Financial Management Journal, 1 Jan. 2019, www.researchgate.net/profile/Eric-Anderson-30/publication/339339405_A_Comparative_Expected_Cost_Analysis_Study_on_Dental_Services_and_Products_Used_in_the_United_States/links/5e4db634458515072daba2fd/A-Comparative-Expected-Cost-Analysis-Study-on-Dental-Services-and-Products-Used-in-the-United-States.pdf. 
Ceramic Braces vs Metal Brackets

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