Traditional orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist, or the child’s physician.
The most commonly used type of braces is metal. Metal braces, typically made of high-grade stainless steel, use a combination of metal brackets and archwire to create the perfect smile. The brackets are cemented on each tooth and the wire threads through each bracket. Metal braces are comfortable and give patients the option of individualizing their braces by adding colored rubber bands instead of the normal, clear o-shaped bands.
Gold braces are a variation of the traditional metal brace. The same bracket and archwire system is used, but the brackets and wires are made from stainless steel and coated with gold. Gold braces are another option for patients seeking a unique aesthetic look.
Ceramic, or "tooth-colored," braces are an option for patients looking for less prominent orthodontic appliances. The brackets are made from a clear composite and blend in with the patient's teeth, making them discreet from a distance or in photos. The ceramic brackets do tend to be slightly larger than metal braces and treatment can take a longer period of time.