Orthodontics - Ceramic Braces
Traditionally, braces have consisted of metal brackets and wires. However, some people have feared the idea of a "metal mouth" so much that they refuse to wear braces altogether, missing out on the possibility of a beautiful smile. For this reason, orthodontic research began to focus on less visible options. This is how ceramic braces—the braces responsible for Tom Cruise's straightened smile—came to be. The brackets blend in with the colour of the teeth, and cannot be seen from a mere metre away.
Ceramic braces consist of wires and clear, ceramic brackets. These brackets are glued to the front of your teeth. The wires (one for each set of teeth) are attached to the brackets with transparent, tiny elastics called ligatures. Ceramic braces function just like traditional braces: the wire is shaped into the ideal position of your teeth, then threaded through the brackets. As the wires struggle to get back to their original shape, they gradually pressure your teeth into that shape as well. Your orthodontist will tighten the wires every four to six weeks. You should see a nice, straight smile within two or two and a half years (though this time period can be shorter or longer, depending on the severity of your problem). Once your braces come off, you will likely wear a retainer for six months to a year, to keep your teeth from shifting and make sure your new smile stays in place.
Ceramic braces do have some disadvantages, though:
· Ceramic brackets are not as strong as metal braces. Orthodontists
often use metal brackets for more complex cases.
Though braces are most commonly seen on children and adolescents—at this age, bones are still growing, making it easier to shift teeth and jaws into place—they can be worn at any age. If you feel you (or your child) may be a candidate for braces, talk to your dentist. He or she can refer you to an orthodontist, a dentist specially trained in tooth movement and dentofacial orthopedics.
Braces can be unpleasant at times. Initially, the brackets can irritate
the back of the lips (though you will get used to this being there
within a few days). They require special brushing and flossing techniques,
as food can collect around the brackets, causing bacteria buildup
and bad breath. They can also hurt at times, especially immediately
after wire-tightening visits to the orthodontist. This hurt, too,
will go away in a day or two. Keep an eye out for the many, many people
in the media and on the street who have worn braces—their straight,
beautiful, hard-earned smiles should motivate you to stick to your