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Braces explained

Dr. Sarah explains everything you need to know
about braces treatment at the dentist

In today’s world, braces are in great demand.  People are more mindful of wanting a straighter, more beautiful, and healthier smile, and braces can give you just that. In the old days, braces were almost exclusive for children, but that is not true nowadays. In fact, adults are requesting braces just as much as children, if not more so. The stigma of wearing braces has been removed and society welcomes and applauds those who make the decision to improve the function of their mouth, with the added benefit of having a nice set of teeth to help build confidence and self-esteem.  

Why were braces exclusive for children back in the day?

Braces have a very distinct disadvantage, and that is their looks. They are composed of metallic parts of a bright silver color, and that makes their appearance unacceptable for most adults. Children however rarely had the choice to have braces which is why it was seen to be a procedure only done in younger years.  Once you reached a certain age it seems the window of straightening your teeth had closed.

Manufacturers became aware of the fact that people are refraining from braces in adulthood because of how they look, and so started coming up with more esthetic solutions making them more suitable for adults. This is new development in orthodontics is clear aligners.  

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Are braces for children easier?

Without a doubt. While braces would give the same result for both children and adults, they are much easier and a lot faster when you start wearing them as a child. The ideal age is around 12 to 14 years of age, during the growth spurt period.

This is because during that time, the bones of the jaws are more malleable, and easy to adapt to the forces applied to them by the braces. This makes teeth movement easier and faster. In simpler terms, if an adult would take about a year to complete his\her braces treatment, a child – more accurately a teenager- would complete a similar treatment in about 6 to 8 months.

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What are the types of braces available?

  1. Traditional metal braces:

    Old but gold silver braces sometimes called colored braces. These are composed of metallic brackets that are attached to the outer surface of the teeth, with a wire crossing them. The wire is held firmly in place by a set of colorful, round elastics (hence the term colored braces), and so the wire applies a pulling force moving the teeth where we need them to go.


  2. Clear braces:

    The first attempt at a more esthetic solution. Clear braces (also known as ceramic braces) are about the same as metal braces, but with one huge difference: the brackets are made of a clear, ceramic material rather than metal, improving the appearance a great deal. The wire is also treated with a white coating, and the elastics are white or transparent, making the whole setup a whole lot better looking.


  3. Lingual braces:

    As if clear braces weren’t enough, along with cam lingual braces. These are attached to the inner surface of the teeth – opposite the tongue and the palate – and so anyone who looks your way would see nothing attached to the teeth. Of course, these are a great esthetic option, but the technology is fairly new and they’re still working out the kinks. Their greatest disadvantage is that they are quite uncomfortable, always causing injuries to the tongue and the insides of your mouth.

    All these 3 types are fixed, meaning they are attached to your teeth and you cannot remove them. The following type is quite the opposite.


  4. Clear aligners:

    Clear aligners are the epitome of braces technology. This great invention came about to fix almost every problem related to traditional fixed braces. This system has no brackets, no wires, no elastics, and nothing attached to your teeth. Instead, these are replaced by a set of plastic, transparent molds known as aligners, which apply pressure to the teeth and move them to the desired location.
    As you can probably imagine, these look great (invisible even) and are much more comfortable. Plus they are computer-made, making them incredibly fast and highly accurate. Finally, you can remove them whenever you need them, meaning when you attempt to clean your teeth, or when you have that special occasion that you just have to look your best in.

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How does the teeth straightening process happen?

When the brackets are attached to the teeth, they become representatives of the teeth in the movement process, meaning wherever the brackets go, the teeth – being attached to them- will follow. The wire and elastics work together to apply a pulling force on the teeth (a very light but sustainable force to avoid damage to the bones and teeth) and that force displaces the teeth following the curvature of the wire. That happens for all types of fixed braces, metal, clear and lingual braces alike.

Invisalign has a different mode of action. The aligners are specially designed to apply a pushing rather than a pulling motion to the teeth. Each case needs about 20 to 25 aligners total, each adding a little bit of pressure compared to the previous, until the teeth reach their final destination.

Finally comes the retainer part. In some cases, a permanent teeth retainer is used which is a small thin piece of wire attached to the inside surface of the teeth. In others, a simple removable teeth retainer is used, which can be removed at mealtimes and during teeth brushing.

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How much do braces cost in Australia?

The price for braces depends on many factors. The complexity of the case, how long the procedure will take, what type of braces you choose and of course the location of the practice and experience of the orthodontist all come into play.

On average, metal braces cost anywhere between $4500 to $8000, not far from clear braces which cost between $4500 to $8500. Invisalign and lingual braces are relatively new, and more esthetic options, so they are a bit more costly. Clear aligner cases start at $5000 and could reach up to $9000, and to top them all, a single jaw lingual braces treatment starts at about $7500, and a full 2 jaws treatment start at $12000.

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Is that braces price covered by insurance?

Insurance cover for braces varies greatly between each provider and their policies.  This is definitely one of the times you need to read the fine print in your policy documents to see if orthodontic treatment is covered for each family member.  Not all do not extend to braces, viewing them as a more “cosmetic procedure” than a necessity. Ridiculous we know! However, if your policy does not cover orthodontic treatment you may benefit from the insurance in some of the set-up procedures like the scans and molds needed before you start the treatment. Plus, most orthodontists would adopt a comfortable payment plan, since the treatment most often lasts up to 18 months, sometimes longer, making the whole payment process a lot easier.

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Understanding your condition is the key to making the right choices for you


Braces (or orthodontics) is a system designed to move the teeth to the desired location, giving you a straighter smile and more beautiful teeth.

According to the type of braces. Fixed braces (which are metal, clear and lingual braces) are cemented to the teeth’s surface with a special form of glue. Invisalign is not attached to teeth so you can put them on or take them off yourself.

Taking care of braces could be tricky. The simple brush and floss are simply not enough. We advise you to use an electric toothbrush twice a day, and use any available method for flossing such as interdental brushes, or better yet, a water flosser. Mouthwashes with Fluoride are also highly recommended.

Metal braces start at $4500, clear braces at $5000, Clear aligners at $4000 and lingual braces at $7500 for one jaw and $12000 for both jaws. The prices can go higher for more complex cases.

A bit of discomfort is expected during the first week, because your mouth is still adjusting to the movement of teeth. In addition, braces could cause cuts, scrapes and ulcers on the lips, cheeks and tongue, but all that can be easily managed with a sedative gel.

They are very effective. Braces is a long journey, but one that is certainly worth it. If you check some braces before and after photos on some orthodontists website, you would definitely find satisfying results.

That depends on how complex the case is to start with. Simple cases last from 6 months to a year, moderate cases an average of 18 months, while complex cases could reach up to 2 or even 3 years.

There are many more options for a more beautiful smile, one of the most famous is veneers (commonly known as Hollywood smile). This procedure doesn’t “straighten” your teeth per say, but rather covers the outer surface in a layer of porcelain that fixes the shape as well as the color of the teeth.

The main principle behind braces is a sustainable, light force to move the teeth. So yes the force is always there, meaning your teeth are constantly moving, even if you don’t notice a change.

They start their action as soon as they are placed on your teeth, but you would start noticing a difference within 2-3 weeks.

If you don’t take proper care of your teeth during the treatment, then certainly you could expect some problems when they come off, such as decay or gum inflammation. Taking care of your oral hygiene during braces treatment is a challenge, but is of the utmost importance.

There really isn’t a maximum period, it all depends on how complex the case is.

Braces themselves do nothing to your mouth’s odor. But if you skip brushing and flossing for a day or two, then the food remnants start to ferment, causing a terrible odor, not to mention starting the process of decay and gum disease.

They tend to cause cuts and ulcers along your lips, cheeks and tongue, and you are more liable for decay and gum disease since they make teeth cleaning very difficult. Excessive pressure from the braces could also cause damage to the bones and the teeth.

For the fixed types, you have to stay away from hard foods (such as nuts and hard fruits like apples) as well as sticky foods (like gum and toffee). Any one of these could cause the brackets to break or dislodge from their position. No such restrictions apply for Invisalign, since you can remove the aligners during meal time.

Yes, no problem. Just make sure to brush your teeth thoroughly afterwards to prevent build up of stain. 

Again yes. With the exception of hard and sticky foods, you can eat or drink anything you desire.

Lemons and other citrus fruits (like oranges and tangerines) could cause damage to the enamel on the long run. They do nothing to the braces themselves.

Anywhere between $4000 and $12000 depending on the case and type of braces you select.

This is always up for debate.  Braces can be viewed as a cosmetic procedure, or it could be considered imperative to ensure the correct function and chewing ability of the mouth.  Not having orthodontic treatment when recommended could impact severely on the future health of the entire body.  If you can’t chew properly your health could suffer.  If your teeth are not in alignment you will experience more chipping, breaking of teeth, the loss of teeth due to gum disease and decay in areas difficult to clean, and jaw pain as the teeth do not come together as they should placing more stress on the TMJ and facial muscles.  Braces can prevent many ongoing conditions therefore if you are recommended to have braces you should definitely consider the impact of not having it done.  

Fixed braces include traditional metal braces, clear braces (the same as metal braces but made of clear ceramic material), and lingual braces (attached to the inner rather than the outer surface of the teeth). Invisalign is a removable type of braces, meaning you can place them and remove them at will.

Orthodontic treatment (or braces) is a cosmetic procedure, capable of straightening your teeth and giving you a beautiful smile that functions exactly how it should to aid in your overall well-being.  

For fixed braces, on average, you would need to visit your orthodontist at least once a month for adjustments. Those wearing clear aligners could visit their orthodontist only once every 2 or 3 months for a review on the progress of the shifting teeth.  

Many other options are available for you to get a beautiful smile, such as crowns and veneers. However, only braces actually move and straighten your teeth without having to prepare or grind them.

A younger age is certainly preferred. The perfect age would be between 12 and 14 years of age, during the period of the growth spurt however, orthodontic treatment can be started at any time with a motivated and willing patient keen to improve the function and look of their mouth and smile. 


Braces (also known as orthodontics) are the art and science of arranging teeth. It is a system designed specifically to move the teeth that are out of position, into a more favorable place so the smile becomes straighter and more beautiful.

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