Braces are orthodontic appliances that are used for correcting the alignment of teeth and facial asymmetries.
Metallic braces were among the first orthodontic appliances that were introduced for orthodontic treatment of misaligned or crooked teeth. Still, they are being commonly used in orthodontics, besides other types of braces such as ceramic braces and lingual braces.
What are Metal Braces Made of?
Since the braces remain in the oral cavity for an extended time duration, they are prepared from materials that possess sufficient strength and excellent resistance to corrosion. Therefore, conventional metal braces are made of high quality stainless steel or titanium alloys. Metallic braces consist of the following components:
- Metallic Brackets – brackets are the appliances that are attached to the teeth, and are the ones that become visible whenever you open your mouth for speech or smiling. Brackets are attached to the teeth with the help of special dental cements that are polymerized with the help of visible light. Orthodontic braces contain slots through which an archwire passes.
- Metallic Archwires – an archwire is simply a metallic wire that passes through specially designed slots within the brackets. Metallic archwires are either prepared from stainless steel, nickel titanium, or β-titanium alloys. The thickness and rigidity of the archwires determines the force that is generated onto the teeth. Usually, flexible wires are used initially to gradually align the teeth followed by using rigid wires (like stainless steel) to bring about major orthodontic movements of teeth.
- Orthodontic Ligatures – also commonly known as rubber bands, these are simply elastics that are used for holding archwires into their places in the brackets. Ligatures come in a variety of colors and patients can choose the color of their ligatures at every appointment, when they are replaced with fresh ones.
How Do Metal Braces Work?
As discussed previously, braces contain specialized slots through which the orthodontic wires pass. The type of orthodontic wire, as well as its thickness determine the amount of force that is generated onto the teeth. This force is then used to move or re-align the teeth in their proper positions. At every appointment, which is usually two to three weeks apart, your dentist will replace your ligatures and adjust the orthodontic wires so that they are tight enough to move your teeth.
Getting Used to Metal Braces
After getting your braces, it is common to have difficulty in eating and speaking for the first few days. However, your mouth will soon get used to the “additional” appliances and they will become a part of your oral cavity. Make sure that you maintain an impeccable oral hygiene and avoid sticky and hard foods during your treatment.
Management of Dislodged Braces
Braces are attached to your teeth with the help of adhesive cements. If you are not careful about your diet and continue to eat sticky and hard foods, there are chances that the metallic brackets may get dislodged from teeth. What to do in this case? First, don’t panic! Simply secure the bracket and visit your dentist or orthodontist immediately. At the dental office, the tooth will be cleaned and the bracket will be re-attached to it.
Using Orthodontic Retainers
After the orthodontic treatment is completed and the required results have been achieved, your dentist will give you a fixed or removable retainer to wear, so that your teeth do not revert to their previous positions.
Despite the excellent results achieved by the use of metallic brackets for orthodontic treatment, their use is gradually declining due to their unaesthetic metallic appearance. If you don’t want people to notice your braces whenever you speak or smile, then you can choose ceramic braces or Invisalign clear aligners for your orthodontic treatment.
How Much Do Metal Braces Cost?
Metal braces are the most affordable type of braces. Even though the exact price depends on many factors, here is a rough estimate about the usual prices in various countries:
- US: $3,000 to $7,000
- UK: £2,000 to £2,500
- Australia: $4,500 to $8,000