Before they reach adulthood, an estimated 50% to 70% of children will need to wear braces, according to the American Association of Orthodontics. Whether their condition is as minor as a slight misalignment or as severe as a massive overbite, braces can help improve the position and appearance of teeth.
When it comes to braces, patients have several options, including ceramic braces—a newer alternative to traditional metal braces.
In this article, we'll explore ceramic braces in detail, so you can make an educated decision on whether they are right for you.
What Are Ceramic Braces? A Quick Look
Braces are orthodontic devices that are used to straighten and align teeth. They work by applying constant pressure on the teeth to move them into the correct position. They consist of brackets that are attached to the teeth and wires that connect the brackets together.
They are used to correct a variety of orthodontic issues, including overcrowding, crooked teeth, and malocclusion (bad bite).
As the most common orthodontic treatment, they are widely used for both children and adults. Just as much as they improve the appearance of a patient's teeth, they improve their function and overall oral health.
Ceramic braces are similar to their traditional metal counterparts—they have brackets, wires, and elastics—but they have a few key differences:
- They are made of clear or tooth-colored materials, which makes them less noticeable than traditional metal braces.
- The brackets and wires are designed to blend in with the natural color of the teeth, making them a popular choice for adults who want a more discreet orthodontic treatment.
- Ceramic braces work in the same way as traditional braces, but the material they are made of may not be as strong as metal braces and sometimes requires frequent adjustments.
- Ceramic braces are usually more expensive than metal braces due to the cost of the materials used.
These differences should be taken into account when weighing the pros and cons of ceramic braces.
Who’s A Good Candidate For Ceramic Braces?
Ceramic braces can be a good option for many people who need orthodontic treatment. Since they are similar to traditional metal braces, candidacy depends on many of the same factors.
Mild to moderate orthodontic issues: Ceramic braces are suitable for correcting mild to moderate issues such as crooked teeth, spacing between teeth, and minor bite problems. They may not be as effective as metal braces for severe orthodontic issues such as significant jaw misalignment or teeth that need to be rotated.
Concerns about appearance: If someone is self-conscious about wearing traditional metal braces, ceramic braces may be a better option as they are less noticeable. This can be especially important for adults or teenagers who are concerned about the impact of braces on their appearance.
Commitment to good oral hygiene: Ceramic braces require good oral hygiene practices to prevent staining and plaque buildup on the brackets. Patients must commit to brushing and flossing regularly, as well as avoiding foods and drinks that can stain the braces.
Willingness to follow treatment plan: Like all braces, ceramic braces require regular adjustments and appointments with an orthodontist. Patients must be willing to follow the treatment plan recommended by their orthodontist, which may include wearing rubber bands or other appliances in addition to the braces.
- Ability to pay for the treatment: Ceramic braces can be more expensive than traditional metal braces, so patients must be able to afford the additional cost. Some dental insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost of ceramic braces, but patients should check with their provider to confirm coverage.
Overall, ceramic braces can be a good option for people who have mild to moderate orthodontic issues and are concerned about the appearance of traditional metal braces.
Still, patients must be committed to good oral hygiene, follow the recommended treatment plan, and be able to afford the additional cost of the braces.
Ceramic Braces: Before and After (images)
Brand new ceramic braces compared to traditional metal braces.
Benefits Of Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces offer a range of benefits, including:
Tooth-colored brackets are discrete. Compared to traditional braces, which require colored or metal brackets, ceramic braces can be much less noticeable. Although they aren't invisible, they blend in well with the natural color of teeth.
Ceramic braces use strong wires. Ceramic braces use strong, heat-activated archwires that hold better than metal wire without needing to be adjusted as often. This can save time and money on follow-up appointments.
Wired braces ensure long-term results. Compared to Invisalign, which realigns teeth slightly faster, braces with wires—including ceramic braces—have been shown to have longer-lasting effects in terms of orthodontic relapse.
They are one of the most comfortable options. Because of their small size and rounded brackets, ceramic braces don't chafe or rub against the inside of your mouth as easily as metal braces do.
- Minimized risk of staining and discoloration. Ceramic braces can be coated in a special anti-stain coating which reduces the chance of staining and helps maintain the natural color of teeth for longer.
Are There Downsides To Ceramic Braces?
Like all forms of orthodontic treatment, ceramic braces have their downsides compared to other options. These include:
More expensive than traditional braces. Ceramic braces cost more than metal braces, and some dental insurance plans may not cover the additional cost.
More visible than some options. Invisalign and lingual braces are more discrete than ceramic braces, as ceramic ones still show brackets and wires on the front of your smile.
Less durable than metal braces. Ceramic brackets can be prone to chipping or breaking, and the ceramic wiring will not hold up as well against regular wear and tear. They are shown to be twice as likely to fracture as their metal counterparts.
- More difficult to clean. Ceramic brackets are more porous than metal braces, making them harder to keep clean. Regular brushing and flossing is especially necessary for good oral hygiene when using ceramic braces.
Limited teeth whitening ability. If you want to whiten your teeth with braces, you’ll need Invisalign trays. Any braces that include wires and brackets will make whitening impossible.
Increased risk of irritation. Because ceramic braces make it harder to clean your oral cavity, irritation and swelling around the gum line and enamel can be more common with ceramic braces than with metal braces.
- Longer treatment time. Ceramic braces may require more regular adjustments and a longer overall treatment period than other types of orthodontic treatment.
Procedure For Ceramic Braces
All treatments and prognoses vary depending on the patient's condition and the severity of their orthodontic issue, but typically ceramic braces are installed in a few steps.
Here is a general overview of what to expect:
Consultation: The first step in getting ceramic braces is to schedule a consultation with an orthodontist. During this appointment, the orthodontist will examine your teeth, take X-rays, and discuss your orthodontic issues and treatment goals. They will then determine if ceramic braces are a good option for you and explain the procedure and what to expect.
Preparation: Before the braces can be installed, the orthodontist will need to prepare your teeth. This may involve cleaning your teeth and applying a special adhesive to help the brackets stick to your teeth.
Installation of brackets: The next step is to install the ceramic brackets onto your teeth. The orthodontist will place a bracket on each tooth using a special adhesive, and then attach a wire to the brackets using elastic bands.
Adjustment: After the brackets and wires are in place, the orthodontist will make adjustments to the wires to begin the process of moving your teeth into the correct position. You will need to visit the orthodontist periodically for adjustments to the wires, which will gradually move your teeth over time.
Maintenance: Once the braces are installed, you will need to take care of them to ensure that they remain effective and comfortable. This includes brushing and flossing regularly to prevent plaque buildup and avoid staining on the brackets, as well as avoiding certain foods that can damage the braces.
- Removal: The braces will be removed once your orthodontic issues have been corrected and your teeth are in the correct position. Braces removal typically involves removing the brackets and wires and then cleaning and polishing your teeth.
Cost Of Ceramic Braces
For most, the cost of braces plays a significant role in the decision process. Ceramic braces are generally more expensive than traditional ones, but not by a significant margin.
While typical braces cost between $3,000 and $7,000, ceramic ones cost between $4,000 and $8,000.
Ceramic braces have a higher likelihood of chipping or breaking, though, meaning that some patients may need additional appointments to maintain and adjust the braces. This can add to the cost of treatment in some cases, so it’s important to factor this into your budget.
Length Of Treatment For Ceramic Braces
The length of treatment for ceramic braces can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the orthodontic issues being addressed, the age of the patient, and the compliance of the patient in following their orthodontic treatment plan.
In general, treatment with ceramic braces can take anywhere from 18 to 36 months, which is similar to traditional metal braces. However, it's important to note that treatment time can vary depending on the individual case.
During treatment, patients will need to visit their orthodontist periodically for adjustments to the wires and brackets. These appointments typically occur every four to six weeks, and the orthodontist will gradually adjust the wires to move the teeth into the correct position.
Ceramic Braces Color Bands
When using ceramic braces, you might not be able to choose the specific brace color, but you can still use colored bands if you want. The bands that wrap around the brackets come in a variety of colors, and you can choose to wear all one color or mix and match different colors.
Do Ceramic Braces Stain?
Ceramic braces are generally resistant to discoloration or staining, as the brackets themselves are made of a clear or tooth-colored material that won't easily stain or discolor.
It is the clear elastic bands that are used to tie the brackets together that can become stained over time, particularly if the patient consumes foods or drinks that are known to stain teeth (e.g., coffee, tea, red wine, or tomato sauce).
To minimize the risk of staining, patients should follow good oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing regularly, and avoiding foods and drinks that can cause staining. Orthodontic patients may want to consider using a straw when drinking colored beverages to minimize contact with the teeth and braces.
If the elastic bands do become stained, the orthodontist can easily replace them at the next adjustment appointment.
Ceramic Braces Vs. Metal Braces
Ceramic braces and metal braces are both effective options for orthodontic treatment, but there are some differences between the two that may make one a better option for certain patients.
Ceramic braces are typically more aesthetically pleasing than metal ones, making them a popular choice for adults who want to maintain a natural appearance during their orthodontic treatment. They’re also less likely to irritate the gums and cheeks since they’re made of smoother materials.
However, ceramic braces tend to be more expensive than traditional metal braces, and they also have a higher risk of chipping or breaking—further adding to their potential costs.
Ceramic Braces Vs. Invisalign
Invisalign and ceramic braces are completely different in their approach to orthodontic treatment, so it can be difficult to compare them directly.
Invisalign trays are made of a clear, plastic material and are designed to be removable. They require less frequent visits to the orthodontist than ceramic braces because they are designed to be changed out by the patient at home.
Ceramic braces are affixed to the teeth and require regular visits to monitor progress and make adjustments.
They also require additional care at home, making them far less convenient than Invisalign—brushing your teeth with braces can be a tremendous hassle.
Invisalign is a better choice for patients who prefer a less visible option, as the trays are virtually undetectable. But they aren't always a viable option for patients with severe malocclusion or misalignment issues.
Want to learn more? These are the questions our customers ask us the most.
Are Ceramic Braces More Expensive?
The exact cost of ceramic braces will vary depending on the individual case and the orthodontist providing the treatment. That said, they are generally more expensive than traditional metal braces, due to the cost of the materials used. Ceramic braces use clear or tooth-colored brackets and wires that are more expensive than the metal brackets and wires used in traditional braces.
Are Ceramic Braces Faster?
The length of treatment with ceramic braces will vary depending on the individual case and the severity of the orthodontic issues being addressed. In general, ceramic braces take a similar amount of time to traditional metal braces, which is typically between 18 and 36 months. Each case is unique, and some patients may experience faster or slower results.
Are Ceramic Braces Less Painful?
Ceramic braces are often less painful than traditional metal braces, particularly in the first few weeks of treatment. Ceramic braces have brackets that are designed to be smooth and rounded, which can be less irritating to the lips and cheeks than the brackets used in metal braces. However, like all braces, ceramic braces may cause some discomfort or soreness during the adjustment period.
Are Ceramic Braces More Comfortable Than Metal?
Ceramic braces can be more comfortable than traditional metal braces for some patients, particularly those who are sensitive to the metal and wiring in their mouths, which ceramic braces have less of. Their brackets are designed to be smooth and rounded, making them more comfortable than the brackets used in metal braces.
Are Ceramic Braces Worth It?
The decision to get ceramic braces will depend on each patient's individual needs and preferences. Ceramic braces can be a good option for patients who are concerned about the appearance of traditional metal braces, as they are less noticeable. Still, they may be more expensive than metal braces and may require more frequent adjustments. Carefully weigh the pros and cons and decide whether aesthetics and comfort or cost and durability is more important for your treatment.
Can You Eat With Ceramic Braces?
You can eat with ceramic braces, just as with any other kind of braces. Still, it's important to avoid certain foods that can damage the braces or stain the surrounding tooth enamel. Patients with ceramic braces should avoid hard or sticky foods, as well as foods and drinks that are known to stain teeth, such as coffee, tea, red wine, or tomato sauce. They should take extra care in their oral hygiene habits, including brushing and flossing with a special pick to prevent food particles from getting stuck in the braces.
Do Ceramic Braces Turn Yellow?
The ceramic brackets used in ceramic braces are typically resistant to discoloration or staining. However, the clear elastic bands that are used to tie the brackets together can become stained over time, particularly if the patient consumes foods or drinks that are known to stain teeth, such as coffee, tea, red wine, or tomato sauce.
What Foods To Avoid With Ceramic Braces?
Patients with ceramic braces should avoid hard or sticky foods, as these can damage the braces or cause them to become dislodged. Some examples of foods to avoid include hard candy, popcorn, nuts, ice, and chewing gum. They should also avoid foods and drinks that are known to stain teeth, as these can cause the clear elastic bands used in ceramic braces to become discolored.
How Do You Brush Your Teeth With Ceramic Braces?
Brushing your teeth with ceramic braces requires some additional effort to ensure that all surfaces of the teeth and braces are cleaned properly. Patients should use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Patients should also use an interdental brush or floss threader to clean between the brackets and wires, and rinse their mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash to remove any bacteria that may be left behind.
Are Ceramic Braces Safe?
Yes, ceramic braces are safe for most patients. The materials used in ceramic braces are biocompatible and have been used in orthodontic treatments for many years. However, as with any orthodontic treatment, there is a risk of potential complications or side effects, such as discomfort, irritation, or tooth decay.
Can Ceramic Braces Fix An Overbite?
Yes, ceramic braces can be used to correct an overbite, which is a condition where the upper teeth extend too far over the lower teeth. Orthodontists may use different types of braces or appliances to correct an overbite, depending on the severity of the condition and the individual patient's needs. Ceramic braces can be an effective option for correcting mild to moderate overbites.
Can Ceramic Braces Break?
While ceramic braces are generally durable and resistant to damage, they can break or become dislodged in certain situations, such as when eating hard or sticky foods, playing sports, or engaging in other activities that can put pressure on the braces. If a bracket or wire becomes damaged or dislodged, patients should contact their orthodontist right away to schedule an appointment for repair.
What Are Ceramic Braces Made Of?
Ceramic braces are made of clear or tooth-colored materials, including ceramic, porcelain, or composite materials. The brackets and wires used in ceramic braces are designed to blend in with the natural color of the teeth, making them less noticeable than traditional metal braces.
When Were Ceramic Braces Invented?
Ceramic braces were first introduced in the 1970s as a more aesthetic alternative to traditional metal braces. Since then, advances in technology and materials have made ceramic braces more durable and effective for a wider range of orthodontic issues.
How Long Do You Have To Wear Ceramic Braces?
The length of treatment with ceramic braces will vary depending on the individual case and the severity of the orthodontic issues being addressed. In general, ceramic braces take a similar amount of time to traditional metal braces, which is typically between 18 and 36 months. However, each case is unique, and some patients may experience faster or slower results depending on their specific needs and the effectiveness of their treatment plan.
What Do Ceramic Braces Look Like?
Ceramic braces consist of clear or tooth-colored brackets and wires that are attached to the teeth. The brackets are designed to blend in with the natural color of the teeth, making them less noticeable than traditional metal braces. The wires used in ceramic braces may be coated with a tooth-colored material to further improve the appearance of the braces.
Do Ceramic Braces Have Rubber Bands?
Sometimes, ceramic braces use clear elastic bands to hold the brackets and wires together. These bands can become stained over time, particularly if the patient consumes foods or drinks that are known to stain teeth. However, the brackets themselves are made of clear or tooth-colored materials and are typically resistant to discoloration or staining.
Can Ceramic Braces Be Self-Ligating?
Some ceramic braces can be self-ligating, which means that they use a special clip to hold the wire in place instead of elastic bands. Self-ligating braces can offer several advantages over traditional braces, including faster treatment times and fewer appointments for adjustments.