Choosing which type of braces you or your child should go with can be a daunting task. There is no one best option-- each type has distinct pros and cons.
Traditional metal braces
When you think of braces, you probably envision the metal kind. Metal braces consist of small pieces of stainless steel or ceramic material, called brackets. The brackets are glued to the front of each tooth. A thin, hard band of wire goes over the brackets, to apply pressure. The pressure can be tightened or loosened by adjusting something called an o-ring, which is basically a durable rubber band. Your dentist will periodically evaluate your teeth and adjust the tension on your braces as needed.
Metal braces are durable, and cheaper than the various alternatives. Kids may like choosing the color of the o-ring, as well. Drawbacks include the visibility of the metal. Opting for ceramic instead of stainless steel may reduce the visibility of the braces, but ceramic usually costs a bit more. You may also have some difficulty cleaning your teeth around the braces, and may have to avoid foods that are likely to get caught in them, such as caramel.
Invisible aligners serve the same purpose as regular braces, but they work a little differently. Aligners are basically a custom-build cover that slides over your teeth. You don't need to wear them constantly-- they can be removed while you eat, or when you brush your teeth. In order for aligners to be effective, however, they should be worn as much as possible.
One of the biggest advantages to invisible aligners is that they're clear. Unlike with metal braces, most people won't be able to tell that you're wearing invisible aligners. It's also easier to properly brush and floss your teeth, as you're able to remove the aligners. They do tend to be more expensive than metal braces, however, and may not be effective for severely crooked teeth.
Lingual braces are metal braces that are installed on the inner side of the teeth. They function in basically the same way, but are much less visible. This is the primary advantage of lingual braces-- you get most of the functionality of metal braces, without the look. On the down side, lingual braces can be difficult to install, and may be expensive. Like their traditional counterpart, lingual braces can pose a challenge when it comes to brushing and flossing, as well.
Talk to your orthodontist about what types of braces are best for you or your child. To find out more, speak with a company like Wright Center For Orthodontics.