In this modern age there are many choices available for orthodontic systems. An increasingly popular choice is smart bracket braces. Smart bracket braces can mean two different devices, braces which do not require elastics or braces designed at the University of Freiburg in Germany where sensors are mounted onto the teeth. More often than not, smart bracket braces refer to the elastic free, self-ligating braces since the other is not yet available in your orthodontist’s office.
Traditional braces are mainly comprised of brackets which are bonded to the teeth, arch wire — which is a thin wire that connects the brackets which puts pressure on the teeth — and elastic ligatures which hold the brackets to the arch wire. These ligatures create a lot of pressure and friction. In self-ligating braces, the elastic ligatures are eliminated by the bracket which has a gate that opens to fit the arch wire through. By removing the ligatures from the process, pressure and friction are relieved which will shorten the overall length of wear as well as length of orthodontic appointments since the doctor will not need to change the elastics.
Self-ligating brackets are smaller and do not raise off the teeth as high as conventional braces, which makes them less noticable. These smart braces are available in clear or ceramic for a more subtle look, though metal is standard. Individual cases will vary greatly but according to a study patients spent 23.5 months wearing traditional braces while patients spent 19.4 months in smart bracket braces. Self ligating patients required about 4 less appointments overall, and they spent less time at the appointments. Self-ligating braces cost approximately $4,000 to $6,000 which is on par with conventional braces.
There are a few downsides to the smart bracket braces. For instance the gate that closes around the arch wire, can be opened while chewing. The gate can even break from continual opening and closing. Jamming of the gate can occur when the patient’s oral hygiene is not optimal. For most patients the upsides of subtle look, shorter length of wear and short appointment times outweigh the downsides. These reasons are why self-ligating braces are perfect for self conscious teenagers and professional adults.
Smart bracket braces can also refer to braces that have sensors in the brackets. In Germany at the University of Freiburg a team has developed a new type of “smart braces.” Sensors are mounted on the teeth that give feedback to a microchip. The microchip readings tell the orthodontist how much force is being placed on each tooth, which direction they are moving and how fast. This conceivably can shorten time spent in braces and possibly reduce pain.