The orthodontic field of dentistry has experienced many technological advancements in recent years, with the most prevalent treatment procedure among patients with crooked, gapped, crowded, and misaligned teeth being metal braces. The treatment helps align your teeth, making them easy to clean, and when you have a plaque-free mouth, you are less likely to develop tartar which causes gum disease. Braces are also a solution when dealing with chronic headaches and neck pains caused by misaligned jaws. 

Not every orthodontist out there can help you obtain a beautiful smile and healthy teeth. You must find the right expert for the treatment. At La Puente Advanced Dentistry, we believe you must familiarize yourself with the treatment and its cost before deciding if it’s the right one. This article defines metal braces, composition, candidacy, how it works, the price, and why you need the treatment to make an informed choice.

What are Metal Braces?

Metal braces, also called traditional braces, are a type of orthodontic treatment designed to help orthodontists fix particular forms of dental malocclusions like crowded teeth, gapped teeth, crooked teeth, and facial asymmetries. The type of braces to be used depending on the state or severity of the malocclusion. The devices shift the teeth or jaws back to their original positions, giving you not only a perfect smile but healthy teeth.

When are Metal Braces Necessary?

When dealing with malocclusions like crooked, crowded, or misaligned teeth, observing healthy oral habits becomes a problem because you can’t brush and floss teeth properly. So, you begin developing periodontal disease, tooth decay, and to some extent, tooth loss. In addition, malocclusions interfere with your bite making it challenging to chew or speak. Misaligned jaws also cause severe headaches and neck aches. Luckily, by undergoing metal braces treatment, the bite abnormalities are corrected.

Aligned teeth are easy to clean, reducing the chances of developing tooth decay and gum diseases. So, if you are reading this article because you are considering this orthodontic treatment option, you should be happy to know you will regain your flawless smile, healthy and fully functional teeth without digging deep into your pockets or sacrificing your comfort.

If you are wondering whether you are a candidate for the treatment, you should know that the treatment is available for people of all ages dealing with crowding, gaps between teeth, overjet, open bite crossbite, and gummy smile. Different treatment options are available, so we will recommend the most appropriate depending on your condition. The best way to know if you are a candidate for the treatment is by visiting an orthodontist or general dentist in person for an oral examination.

Although most oral problems like bad bites, gapped, and crowding teeth are passed on from the parents, some of these conditions might occur because of poor oral habits like thumb-sucking or lip wedging. Most of these problems begin to manifest themselves at the age of six to twelve when the child is developing permanent teeth.

So, if you have children at home, you should commence orthodontic treatment as early as eight to fourteen years to correct these problems on time before they turn into complex oral issues. If your child is seven years, you should start making regular trips to an orthodontist for oral examinations.

Similarly, it is at this age of eight to fourteen when your child’s jaw is developing. Again, visiting an orthodontist makes it easy to monitor the growth process and anticipate problems like malocclusions. That way, the dentist can recommend metal braces treatment on time and address the issue on time.

Note that adults are also eligible candidates for this treatment, but because the facial bone structure and the jawbone are no longer growing, healing is slow and often takes time. 

Causes of Malocclusions

The primary reason you are considering metal braces or any other orthodontic treatment is because of a bad bite. Therefore, it’s worth understanding what causes these problems. You are likely to develop crowded teeth if you have a small mouth limiting the teeth’ space to grow.

Also, if your child is used to thrusting their tongue forward against the lips in a manner that could cause open bites or protruding teeth problems, metal braces can be a solution.

Sometimes, more teeth might protrude in the mouth than space can accommodate. Other times, teeth might fail to protrude from the gums to the surface, causing severe bite issues. Besides, loss of baby teeth or traumatic injury on the face or teeth can cause tooth loss. Therefore, if you are dealing with extra or inadequate teeth, you may develop bite issues.

Teeth are not always the cause of nasty bites. Even misaligned jawbones or the structure supporting these bones can cause malocclusions, leading to chewing, speech, and teeth functionality issues.

If your child thumb-sucks at infancy and past this stage, it causes poor muscular functional habits associated with bad bites. Sometimes finger or thumb sucking can proceed even to adulthood, and because of the pressure the tongue applies to the front of the mouth and the lips, you might develop malocclusions.

What are the Materials in Metal Braces?

Metal braces are made to be durable and resist corrosion, meaning they must have adequate strength. So, many metal braces are composed of stainless steel alloys or quality titanium. The composition or types of materials used in these braces are:

  1. Metallic Brackets

Brackets are devices secured to the teeth and are often the most visible when smiling. Due to the need to achieve both appeal and functionality, these devices are made or composed of ceramic, nickel, stainless steel, titanium, or gold. In addition, chromium may be added to protect stainless steel from degeneration, while manganese prevents corrosion and pitting of the aperture. Polymerized cement and light attach these brackets to the teeth with archwires passing through the slots.

Compared to the previous ones, today’s brackets are more advantageous because the patient can pick different colors or shapes for elastics to hold the frames in place. Besides, they are smaller and can be fixed to the rear teeth, making them less visible when smiling.

  1. Metallic Archwires

Archwires are metallic, and they make their way through the metallic braces to hold them in positions and apply pressure on them, forcing a shift to their original position. The wires are highly flexible and maintain their original shape throughout the treatment. With technological advancements, metallic archwires are now composed of new materials like nitinol and stainless steel.

The force produced by these archwires to the teeth depends on the rigorousness and width of the wires. If you want to align teeth slightly, your dentist will recommend thin archwires, while when teeth need significant shifting or movement, thick archwires are used to apply more pressure to the teeth to move a substantial distance.

  1. Rubber Bands

Also called orthodontic ligatures, rubber bands are elastics that support archwires that hold brackets in place. Your orthodontist or general dentist will allow you to pick the right color for these devices during your initial appointment. They do this because ligatures take different colors like blue, orange, white, grey, red, pink, yellow, maroon, silver, and purple.

On the surface, metal braces might appear as if they haven’t experienced even the slightest changes. However, the truth is these devices have seen a tremendous revolution in the past years, giving them a reduced outline, smaller metallic brackets, and more advanced metallic archwires for efficient and fast shifting of teeth.

Other Forms of Braces

Apart from the metallic braces, other forms of braces you might come across are:

Clear Aligners

Otherwise called invisible braces, clear aligners are tooth-colored porcelain trays that attach comfortably to the teeth. These devices exact adequate force on the teeth, forcing them to shift to the required positions. Although these gadgets are removable, at La Puente Advanced Dentistry, we recommend that you wear them for at least 22 hours every day and only remove them when eating, brushing, and flossing teeth.

Lingual Braces

Like metallic props, lingual braces are attached behind the teeth, making them practically invisible.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces mimic the traditional braces, only that they take the color of the natural teeth or clear brackets than that of the colored ones. These are good for beauty because one can barely notice them when smiling or speaking.

Installation of Metal Braces

Irrespective of the metal braces you wear, orthodontic treatment for this procedure will involve three major stages: oral evaluation or pretreatment, active treatment, and retention. At the examination phase, the dental specialist performing the procedure will thoroughly evaluate the teeth to determine if you are a candidate and the form of metal braces that match your oral needs.

After a thorough discussion of your case, the dentist schedules an appointment for the active treatment for up to three years for permanent metal braces and a year for the temporary ones. During active treatment, the dentist or orthodontist will first use a binding agent to attach the metallic brackets to the teeth. Compared to the past, when dental professionals weld the brackets to the rubber bands and cement each on all tooth surfaces, bonding agents make the outcome more appealing. However, cementing made traditional braces less attractive, explaining why many patients don’t prefer the procedure.

Once the metallic brackets are fixed on the teeth, the dentist then inserts metallic archwires through the openings in the metallic brackets for proper positioning using elastic rubber bands or ligatures. The rubber bands and metallic brackets, in this case, are just passive components of the treatment. However, the most functional and critical part of the treatment is the metallic archwires because they are the ones that generate the force required to move the teeth into their appropriate positions.

The archwires pass through the spaces on the metallic brackets until they reach the molars, which helps prevent unnecessary movements. The reason dentists use the back teeth or molars to anchor archwires is because they are multi-rooted, providing the best support. First, a tube is welded in the unit, and the archwires are attached to it, pulling the front teeth to cause slight alignment. 

Regardless of the force applied to the metallic archwires, the brackets will pull the line simultaneously positioned and appropriately secured on the electronic tube welded in the molars. When these wires are activated through tightening, they move and relax, exerting pressure on all teeth forcing those out of position to shift back to their original positions in a gradual process.

The teeth will quickly move because they have limited space surface area, making repositioning easier. On the other hand, the back teeth have a big surface, and because they are multi-rooted, they act as the perfect anchorage unit for the archwires, meaning they can repel the pressure by shifting slightly or not shifting at all.

Remember, the thickness of archwires and the material composition determine the force exerted on the teeth to realign or move them into their correct positions.

Once the braces are in position, you must regularly visit the dentists to evaluate the treatment progress. During these visits, the orthodontist checks the metal braces to establish if they are applying enough force on the teeth, to move them into the intended positions. If the archwires aren’t tight enough, the dentist will tighten them and replace the rubber bands to ensure superelasticity.

It’s worth understanding that if you have a misaligned jawbone or supporting facial structure, traditional braces alone might not achieve the desired outcome. The dentist may be forced to recommend headgear for optimum results.

Expectations during Active Metal Braces Treatment

Many oral patients deal with dental anxiety because they don’t know what to expect during active treatment. In the first few days after the procedure, you may have speech or eating challenges, although soon the mouth becomes used to the braces and regain everyday speech and eating habits.

During active treatment, you may experience displeasure and pain during the installation or adjustment of braces. Also, if you are new to the headgear or orthodontic ligatures, you may experience some discomfort. If you experience extreme pain during the treatment, be sure to inform the orthodontist for adjustments. OTC drugs like acetaminophen can also take care of the pain after the procedure.

Note that not all metals react the same way when introduced to your body. Nickel, for instance, is known to cause allergic reactions among patients. If you are among the people with allergic reactions, share this information with the dental specialists to recommend the suitable metal braces material that won’t irritate the gums, causing them to swell. Apart from the materials, you may be sensitive to the rubber gloves being used by the orthodontist, so you should discuss the matter and find alternatives.

How Much Does Metal Braces Cost?

The price of traditional braces varies from patient to patient. However, of all types of braces, the traditional braces are pocket-friendly. The factors that affect the cost of this treatment option include the kind of procedure needed, the material used for the props, your dental insurance policy, the reputation of the orthodontists, and where they are located. Other factors that affect the cost of treatment are:

  • The positioning of the misaligned teeth
  • The extend of the necessary treatment
  • And additional procedures needed like jawbone growth redirecting

On average, you are likely to part with a treatment fee of between $3,000 and $5,000 for most orthodontic procedures, metal braces included.

However, you are encouraged to shop around for prices from various orthodontic services in La Puente to pick the specialist who charges the most reasonable rates in the market and offers uncompromised services.

Reasons you Must Choose Metal Braces

Metal braces are a preference for any individual due to many reasons. These are:

  • Orthodontic specialists have relied on traditional braces for many years, meaning they have been tried and tested to treat bite problems.
  • Metal braces are a quick treatment option because they are more efficient than aligners
  • Because of the variety of colors available, traditional braces can be tailored to meet patient’s specific needs and preferences, especially on colors.
  • Metal braces are affordable because many insurance companies provide coverage for this treatment.
  • Compared to clear and ceramic braces, stainless steel metal braces are more durable
  • Because they are fixed to the teeth around the clock, metal braces work continuously to straighten your teeth.

How Long Do you Must Wear Braces?

The duration you are needed to wear the traditional braces vary among patients, based on:

  • The gravity of the malocclusion
  • Adherence of post-procedure instructions
  • The distance to be covered by the teeth during shifting
  • Your mouth’s space
  • The health of the underlying jawbone, teeth, and gums

Generally, the treatment lasts between twelve to thirty-six months. However, even after they are removed, you must wear retainers continually for around six months so that they shift from the desired position. After these six months, you should wear the retainers for several more years, but you put them on when going to sleep this time around.

Find a Family La Puente Dentist

One of the ways you can regain your self-confidence and the functionality of your teeth is through metal braces. All your need is the right orthodontist to securely and precisely attach the braces to the teeth. At La Puente Advanced Dentistry, we offer orthodontic services to assist individuals in attaining their oral needs and goals. Call 626-626-7075 to reach out to our services for a free initial consultation.