Dentists and orthodontists use orthodontic appliances to treat various dental problems, like crooked or gap teeth. Sometimes, patients can decide between fixed or removable orthodontic appliances. At Palm Beach Orthodontics, we assess our patient’s needs and listen to their concerns before making a treatment recommendation.
Four Types of Orthodontic Appliances
We use four different types of orthodontic appliances to treat our patients. There are several differences between each appliance type. Learn about the four types of fixed and orthodontic appliances to understand which device might suit your needs.
- Traditional Metal Braces
The most common type of fixed orthodontic appliance is traditional metal braces. Thanks to advancements, traditional metal braces are more comfortable now than ever.
Traditional metal braces consist of high-grade stainless steel archwires, brackets, and bands. Wires are set in the brackets and held in place with special elastics. Our orthodontist will glue your brackets to the surface of your teeth. The set of braces anchors to your teeth with special bands. The metal bands go around your back molars to create a stable anchor.
Patients can choose which color of elastics they want to hold the wire to the brackets. Elastics come in a variety of colors. Patients can choose more than one color to make a unique and colorful pattern.
If you get traditional metal braces, you will have to make routine appointments so we can make adjustments to your wire and replace the elastics. Most patients get their traditional metal braces tightened every four to eight weeks.
- Self-Ligating Braces
Self-ligating braces are similar to traditional metal braces, but there are a few things that set them apart. While self-ligating braces wires and clips are made from the same high-grade stainless steel material as traditional metal braces, they do not require the use of elastics. Patients are able to choose metal, ceramic, or clear brackets.
Self-ligating braces have a specialized clip in place to eliminate the use of elastics and hold the archwire in place. The clip reduces the pressure and friction placed on your teeth. By eliminating the need to routinely replace elastics, fewer appointments are needed.
- Clear (Ceramic) Braces
Clear braces are very similar to traditional metal braces, but the brackets are made of clear ceramic. The brackets are less visible, making them a good option for patients concerned about the cosmetic look of their braces.
The clear brackets are larger than the brackets used with traditional metal braces. They are also more brittle and can break. Patients need to pay a lot of attention to their oral hygiene and care for their clear braces.
- Clear Aligners
Clear aligners consist of custom-made, flexible, acrylic trays. They will straighten teeth like traditional braces. Aligners are removable and virtually invisible. Since the aligners are thin and flexible they are more comfortable and cause little to no mouth abrasions throughout treatment.
Patients must change out their clear aligner trays as their teeth straighten, approximately every 14 days, until the treatment is complete. Clear aligners are a popular choice for patients who want to conceal their treatment.
Differences Between Fixed and Removable Orthodontic Appliances
No matter whether you choose fixed or removable orthodontic appliances, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type. The three biggest differences our clients must be aware of include cleaning, food restrictions, and overall convenience.
Cleaning your orthodontic appliance is necessary for proper oral hygiene. However, taking care of fixed appliances is different than caring for removable ones.
To care for fixed orthodontic appliances, patients must brush their teeth with the fixed appliance in place. You must also floss, but it can be challenging to maneuver the floss around the fixed brackets and wires.
There are different tools available to help you floss around your fixed brackets and wires. We suggest using a water flosser or floss threader to help you floss with fixed orthodontic appliances.
To clean removable aligners, you can soak them in a generic cleaning solution designed to clean retainers or dentures, use toothpaste and lightly brush them, or soak them in a special cleaning solution made specifically for removable aligners.
- Food Restrictions
One of the biggest differences between fixed and removable orthodontic appliances is whether or not the patient must follow food restrictions. With braces, patients must avoid eating hard and sticky foods, like popcorn or taffy. There aren’t any food restrictions for patients with clear aligners because the appliance is removable.
- Overall Convenience
The orthodontics team at Palm Beach Orthodontics is happy to help patients review the pros and cons of each type of orthodontic appliance. Patients have to have their braces adjusted, they can be difficult to clean, and there are food restrictions. Patients won’t forget to wear them because they’re fixed and are unremovable.
Clear aligners are removable and do not require any food restrictions, but the patient must remember to put them back in after eating. If the clear aligner isn’t in the mouth long enough, you might not get the desired treatment results.
Choose Palm Beach Orthodontics for Fixed or Removable Appliances
At Palm Beach Orthodontics, we understand that our patients have diverse dental health and treatment needs. We offer both fixed and removable dental appliances to treat different concerns. Contact us to schedule an appointment to see how we can help you achieve the smile of your dreams.