Metal vs Ceramic Braces: Advantages and Disadvantages

Deciding to straighten your teeth with orthodontic braces is an exciting time. The tricky part is choosing which brace to use. With so many options available, including modern metal, Invisalign, ceramic and incognito to name a few, it can be difficult to know which brace system is the best choice to improve your smile.


Modern metal braces and ceramic orthodontics are two of the most popular brace systems here at Orthodontics For You in Solihull, and they share many similarities. That said, each brace has a number of advantages (and disadvantages). Here’s everything you need to know about metal vs ceramic braces.


How do Metal Braces Work?

 Made from high-grade stainless steel, modern metal braces are very small and thin and made up of brackets and an archwire. The metal brackets are fitted to the front surface of each tooth using a specialist bonding ‘‘glue.’’ Once the stainless steel brackets have been fitted, an archwire is threaded through each of them. The brackets and archwire work together to gently and consistently push the teeth into the new desired position.

Some patients with severely crooked teeth may need orthodontic bands added to their metal brace system to aid the correction of their bite alignment. These bands are incredibly small and act as an additional pressure to help move the teeth to the corrected position. The bands hook onto the brace on either side of the mouth from the top row of teeth down to the bottom.

The duration patients must wear their metal brace varies, but it can take up to 18 months to complete treatment. The variation will depend on the severity of the misalignment. Throughout treatment, patients will need to have their brace adjusted every 6-8 weeks (approximately).  At these adjustment appointments, your orthodontist will review the progress of the teeth and, if necessary, adjust the brace to ensure it continues to exert the right amount of pressure.


How do Ceramic Braces Work?

 The make-up of a ceramic brace is very similar to a modern metal brace. The main difference is the brackets are clear (also known as tooth-coloured) instead of stainless steel. These ceramic brackets are smoother with more rounded edges, meaning they lie flatter against the teeth, making them less noticeable than a metal brace. In addition to the clear ceramic brackets, a thin archwire is threaded through each of them – just like with a metal brace. Unlike metal braces, however, the ceramic archwire can be coloured to blend with the teeth.

The ceramic brackets and coloured archwire work together to gradually re-position the teeth to the corrected position, functioning in the same way as a metal brace but with a more subtle aesthetic.

Patients will need to wear their ceramic brace for approximately 12-18 months before having it removed. During this time, patients will need to visit their orthodontist around every 6-8 weeks to adjust the brace just as they would with a metal brace.


Metal Vs Ceramic Braces

Whilst the way in which these braces are fitted and function are very similar, they do have their differences. When it comes to metal vs ceramic braces, there are advantages and disadvantages for both, helping patients choose between the two:

Discretion and Comfort: The traditional ‘‘train-track’’ metal brace is now a thing of the past, thanks to progress in the field of orthodontics. Modern metal braces are now smaller and more discreet than ever before. However, ceramic braces are smaller and use tooth-coloured brackets and wires that lie flatter against the teeth, making them more comfortable and less visible than metal braces.


Durability: We pride ourselves on the durability of all brace types designed and fitted at Orthodontics For You. But sometimes, a brace can become damaged if not properly cared for or if the patient eats tough, sticky and chewy foods.  When we review metal vs ceramic braces, ceramic orthodontics are less durable than metal. This is because the bracket material of a ceramic brace isn’t as strong as the stainless steel used within a metal brace.


Staining: Due to their lighter colour, ceramic brackets are more likely to stain compared to modern metal braces. But that’s only if the braces aren’t cared for properly. As long as you have good oral hygiene, there is no need to worry about staining. Nevertheless, to prevent any risk of discolouration, we recommend patients avoid dark-coloured food and drink such as tea, coffee, red wine and curry. This is because prolonged contact with the particles within these foods and drinks can give the impression of discolouration.


Enamel Wear: Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body (it’s even stronger than your bones). But even though enamel is tough, bacteria, plaque and acids in your mouth can still damage it. Teeth bonded with ceramic brackets show significantly higher enamel demineralisation compared to teeth bonded with metal brackets. It’s worth remembering that braces themselves aren’t going to damage your teeth, but poor oral hygiene while wearing braces will damage the enamel. That’s why we urge patients to brush their teeth at least twice daily, but preferably after every meal while wearing their brace.


Cost: Metal braces are the most affordable brace type (ceramic braces come in at a close second).  With Orthodontics For You, modern metal braces are available from £2,150.00, and ceramic braces are available from £2,600.00. Keep in mind these are guide prices for adult patients based on a single arch (lower or upper) and an average level of treatment complexity. If both arches require treatment, the cost will be higher, but not usually double. And remember, we do have finance options available.


Whilst metal braces are less expensive, they aren’t as comfortable or discreet as ceramic braces. But on the flip side, ceramic braces aren’t as durable as modern metal orthodontics. And you could argue that ceramic braces are higher maintenance as they are more likely (although not certain) to stain and cause enamel wear.

Our goal is to deliver the smile we know you deserve and to ensure you receive high standards of care, treated by the very best orthodontists. Whether you still have questions on which brace type would work best for you, or perhaps you’d like to start your journey to a brand new smile, click here to register for your FREE consultation with Orthodontics For You.


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