Braces 101: Types, Costs, and What to Expect
A confident smile is something we all aspire to have. However, achieving that perfect smile may require a little help from orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics has come a long way over the years, offering various types of braces to address a wide range of dental issues. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the different types of braces, their associated costs, and what to expect during your journey to a straighter smile.
Types of Braces
- Traditional Metal Braces
When people think of braces, traditional metal braces often come to mind. These braces consist of metal brackets attached to your teeth, connected by wires. While they are the most noticeable option, they are also the most cost-effective. Traditional metal braces can cost between $3,000 to $7,000, depending on the complexity of your case.
- Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces work similarly to traditional braces but use clear or tooth-coloured brackets and wires, making them less noticeable. Their cost is slightly higher, typically ranging from $4,000 to $8,000. These braces are a great option if you want a less conspicuous option.
- Lingual Braces
Lingual braces are placed on the inside of your teeth, making them virtually invisible. They are customised to your mouth’s shape and size, making them comfortable and effective. However, they tend to be the most expensive option, with costs ranging from $8,000 to $10,000. The advantage of lingual braces is their hidden nature, ensuring that your orthodontic treatment remains discreet.
- Clear aligners
The new revolutionary approach to orthodontics, using a series of clear, removable aligners to straighten your teeth. While they are nearly invisible, they are also the most expensive option, with costs typically ranging from $3,000 to $8,000. Invisalign offers the flexibility of removing the aligners for eating and oral hygiene, making them a popular choice among adults. However they do require excellent compliance for them to work, as leaving them out for too long will delay the treatment time.
The cost of braces varies significantly based on several factors:
- Severity of the Issue: More complex orthodontic problems may require longer treatment and additional appliances, increasing the overall cost.
- Type of Braces: As mentioned earlier, the type of braces you choose significantly impacts the cost. Traditional metal braces are usually the most budget-friendly option, while Invisalign tends to be on the higher end.
- Insurance Coverage: Some dental insurance plans cover orthodontic treatment, reducing the out-of-pocket cost. Be sure to check your insurance policy for orthodontic coverage.
- Payment Plans: Many orthodontists offer payment plans to help make the cost of braces more manageable. These plans can spread the cost over the course of your treatment.
What to Expect During Orthodontic Treatment
- Initial Consultation: The first step in your orthodontic journey is an initial consultation with your dentist or orthodontist. They will first assess your dental condition to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy enough to begin orthodontics. Then some general options can be discussed, and if desired, move on to:
- Treatment Plan: Once you’ve decided to begin orthodontics, we take photos and models or 3D scans to create a personalised treatment plan. This plan outlines the timeline and goals of your treatment, as well as the final cost.
- Braces Placement: The actual placement of braces is a painless process. We will attach the brackets and wires for fixed braces, or small tooth-coloured attachments for clear aligners.
- Adjustment Appointments: Over the course of your treatment, you’ll have regular adjustment appointments, usually every 4-6 weeks. During these visits, we will adjust or replace wires as necessary to ensure your teeth are moving as planned. For clear aligners we will or provide you with your next set of clear aligners every 4 weeks, however if the teeth need a little extra movement (which occurs in most cases to get a perfect result), a new 3D scan will be taken and more aligners manufactured.
- Removal of banding/attachments: Once your teeth have moved into their final position, the brackets or attachments will be removed. Orthodontic wires are often placed behind the front teeth to help keep them straight, and a set of retainers to wear at night will be made to hold all of the other teeth in place.
- Oral Hygiene: Proper oral hygiene is crucial during orthodontic treatment. You’ll need to pay extra attention to cleaning your braces and teeth to avoid issues like tooth decay and gum disease.
- Dietary Restrictions: Certain foods, like hard candies and popcorn, should be avoided to prevent damage to your braces. Your dentist/orthodontist will provide a list of foods to steer clear of.
- Treatment Duration: The duration of your treatment can vary widely, but on average, it lasts around 6 months for simple cases, to 18 months for complex cases. We will provide a more accurate estimate based on your specific case at the treatment planning appointment.
- Complexity: Some cases may be suitable for a dentist who has undergone orthodontic training, and some need specialist orthodontic treatment. Usually the more complex the case, the more likely a specialist is needed. We will give you honest advice on which pathway will be most appropriate for you.
- Fractured/ lost teeth: If you experience a chipped or fractured tooth, follow these immediate steps before seeing your dentist. Rinse your mouth with warm water, apply gentle pressure to control any bleeding, and use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Save the chipped tooth fragment if possible. For temporary protection, consider using dental cement available at drugstores until you can get professional dental care. Read more about dental emergencies in our blog “Dental Emergencies 101: What to do when the unexpected happens” here.
Orthodontic treatment offers a path to a straighter, more confident smile. With various types of braces available, there’s an option to suit everyone’s needs and preferences. While the costs of braces can vary, there are ways to make treatment more affordable, such as insurance coverage and payment plans.
Understanding what to expect during your orthodontic journey can help you prepare for the commitment that comes with wearing braces. Remember that the end result – a beautiful, straight smile – is worth the effort and investment.
If you’re considering orthodontic treatment, discuss with one of our dentists who can assess your specific needs and guide you through the process. Your smile is an essential part of your identity, and with the right orthodontic treatment, you can achieve the confidence that comes with a perfectly aligned set of teeth.