Your first consultation with your orthodontist will include a thorough exam, a discussion of your dental history, X-rays, and a digital scan of your teeth. This gives the doctor a digital replica of your teeth and helps the doctor determine what braces will work best for you.
After that, you might wonder – how are dental materials like braces made? It’s a good question, especially because there are more options than ever now.
How Are Metal Dental Braces Made?
Most braces use wires and brackets made from metal. All of these are made in massive manufacturing facilities using medical-grade ingredients and state-of-the-art equipment to ensure that orthodontists like us have access to the best possible braces.
Once we have the brackets on each tooth, we pass a metal archwire through them. These wires are made in labs from metals like stainless steel, nickel-titanium, molybdenum, and copper. The wire will follow the curve of your jaws in an elongated circle, with many patients needing a bracket that wraps around the back molar to stabilize the archwire. When the orthodontist adjusts this archwire, the force placed on the brackets helps move the teeth into place. Small doors (which we use) are closed to hold the wire into the bracket.
The materials we use in orthodontics are always changing, giving patients more options that suit their needs. For instance, manufacturers and orthodontists use non-porous elements that allow the braces to either be clear or a colour that closely matches teeth. These include medical-grade plastics and ceramics.
What Are Ceramic Braces?
Ceramic braces work much like their metal counterparts, in that they are still bonded directly to the teeth and use an archwire held in place by elastics. However, the material used is made to be less conspicuous! The ceramic material can be clear or tooth-coloured and the archwire can be frosted to blend in with your teeth.
There are some drawbacks: because the material is more fragile, ceramic braces can take longer to straighten misalignments. They also stain more easily and are difficult to keep clean.
How Is Invisalign Made?
Invisalign aligners use a clear, flexible, medical-grade thermoplastic material called SmartTrack. Exclusive to Invisalign, they make all the aligners in their facility in California. We take digital images of the patient’s mouth and send them to the lab; there, Invisalign uses 3-D printing technology to make the aligners out of SmartTrack. This plastic is strong enough to shift your teeth the way you want, and Invisalign users must wear them up to 22 hours a day! They also must be swapped out each week to keep up with the realignment.