Braces are used in orthodontic treatments for dental issues such as crooked or crowded teeth, teeth with wide or irregular spaces between them, alignment of teeth, protruding teeth and more. Metal dental braces were the de facto braces used in orthodontic treatments for many years, before new materials started being used to make dental braces and new types of braces came into existence.
Porcelain braces, which are commonly known as ceramic braces, are an alternative to the traditional metal dental braces. Porcelain braces comprise of brackets and archwires, the same as metal braces. They are also the same in terms of shape and size. The two key differences between porcelain braces and metal braces are the material used to make it (ceramic in place of metal) and the tooth-colored or clear brackets in porcelain braces as opposed to metal-colored or visible brackets in metal braces. In some porcelain braces, even the wires are tooth colored.
How Effective Are Porcelain Braces?
The effectiveness of porcelain braces is determined by the severity of the orthodontic issue. In particularly severe cases such as extreme crookedness or overcrowding of the teeth and severe misalignment of the teeth, orthodontists recommend metal braces over porcelain or ceramic braces. Metal braces cause less friction over the teeth as compared to ceramic braces, which allows the teeth to become aligned quicker and more effectively.
Porcelain or ceramic braces are also not ideally suited for correcting bite irregularities such as crossbite and overbite. Porcelain braces are brittle and tend to chip and crack with usage. The braces placed on the bottom set of teeth are also known to break when the wearer bites down. Due to its brittle nature, you might have to replace them more than once during the length of the treatment. Typically, teeth alignment with metal braces takes about 24 months, while it takes close to 36 months with porcelain braces. This translates to more expenses.
These braces can be used for treating any non-severe orthodontic issue. The preliminary examination carried out by the orthodontist will throw light on the ideal type of dental braces for your case. The process of alignment of the teeth takes longer with porcelain or ceramic braces as compared to metal braces. However, as mentioned earlier, since porcelain braces are less noticeable than metal braces, more people have started opting for these.
Caring for Your Porcelain Braces
The wires and brackets are connected with ligatures, which are basically tiny elastics. These tend to get stained or discolored over time, due to consumption of pigmented foods and drinks such as curries, sauces, coffee, etc. Smoking causes stains as well. You need to be disciplined enough to avoid these foods and drinks during the length of the treatment to ensure the braces continue to look good. Since one of the main reasons for opting for porcelain braces is that they aren’t noticeable, staining or discoloration of the ligatures and brackets defeats the purpose. The ligatures can be replaced, but will add to your expenses. Brush your teeth at least a couple of times every day and floss once every day to prevent staining and discoloration. You might have to buy a special orthodontic floss.
Cost of Porcelain Braces
Porcelain braces cost between $4,000 and $8,000, which is slightly higher than metal dental braces. However, the overall cost of orthodontic treatment using porcelain braces is a lot higher than metal braces. This is so because of the various qualities of porcelain braces mentioned above. The treatment takes longer with porcelain braces, which adds to the cost. Porcelain braces tend to break and need multiple replacements during the treatment period, which adds to the cost. The frequency of adjustments is higher with porcelain braces than metal braces, which means more visits to the orthodontist and thus further additions to the overall cost.
There’s one other issue that applies specifically to porcelain braces and clear orthodontic aligners. These braces are often considered to be cosmetic apparatuses, while metal braces are considered to be a necessary part of dental healthcare, in the eyes of dental insurance plans. If your dental insurance plan subscribes to this point of view, then you will not be able to save a part of the cost for your orthodontic treatment. Dental insurances that cover orthodontic treatments cover up to 50% of the cost.
Pros and Cons of Porcelain Braces
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using porcelain braces,
Advantages of Porcelain Braces
- These are tooth colored or clear, which makes them less noticeable. People who feel self-conscious wearing metal braces or feel metal braces look ugly can opt for porcelain braces instead.
- While the process of teeth alignment takes longer with porcelain braces as compared to metal braces, it’s much faster than clear orthodontic aligners such as Invisalign and ClearCorrect.
- Porcelain or ceramic braces cost a lot less than clear orthodontic aligners.
- Porcelain braces can be used to treat all types of orthodontic issues, except for the most severe cases.
Drawbacks of Porcelain Braces
- These cost more than the traditional metal braces and the treatment takes longer as well.
- Porcelain braces are brittle and can break or crack. You will have to replace the braces, which will add to your overall expenses.
- These braces, especially the brackets and tiny elastic ligatures, get stained quite easily if proper care isn’t taken. The brackets and ligatures can be replaced, but at an extra cost.
- The number of times you need to visit the orthodontist to get the braces adjusted during the length of the treatment is much higher than in case of metal braces. It also means you end up spending more.
Unless the orthodontic diagnosis suggests that you have a severe dental issue, porcelain braces are more than good enough to be used for the treatment. You will feel less self-conscious while wearing porcelain braces, because they blend in with the teeth and don’t stand out like metal braces. However, be prepared to spend more than you would have had to with metal braces.
If your dental plan doesn’t cover porcelain braces, look for a supplemental orthodontic insurance that does. Also, check with your orthodontist for discounts and low-interest payment plans.