Orthodontic treatment such as braces or clear aligners has changed the lives of millions of people, giving them straight teeth and improving their overall dental health.
Many of us have had braces on both the top and bottom arches for treatment, but did you know that single-arch orthodontic treatments are also available in certain cases?
Single arch treatments are sometimes available for younger people, those with very mild teeth alignment issues on one set of teeth, or patients who have had previous work carried out that requires some small adjustments.
This article will provide all the information on what kind of single arch options there are, how much they cost, and if this is a viable and recommended option for treatment.
Can I Get Single Arch Braces?
It is possible to only have one arch treated with braces but it is not something that is commonly recommended by orthodontists.
Financial and oral hygiene maintenance are just a couple of reasons that are given by those requesting to have a single-arch orthodontic treatment with braces. In addition to these reasons, a lot of people decide to opt for this type of treatment to improve one part of their smile, either on their top or bottom teeth.
Double-arch treatment is better in many ways but the main reason is that it makes sure that bite alignment is correct, which can be difficult when only one arch is treated at a time. Moving a single row of teeth and not the other could adversely affect the way that they function together once treatment is concluded and could worsen the original condition and affect your ability to eat correctly.
Most orthodontists will see treating one arch with braces as a cosmetic procedure and not one that is capable of fixing any serious issues, so one should not be surprised if you are encouraged to treat both arches at the same time.
Metal braces, one of the most popular orthodontic treatments for straightening and moving teeth, are made of metal brackets that are held in place with an archwire that is slowly tightened over time. Once installed, periodic visits to the orthodontist are necessary to adjust the braces. During this process, specialized bands may also be used as anchors for other pieces such as elastics or rubber bands that help move your teeth into place more rapidly.
Depending on the individual, the amount of time it takes for treatment can range from six months to two years or more.
Where there is very minor tooth movement required (such as a small gap between the top front teeth) it may be appropriate to only have a single-arch treatment with metal braces. Also, sometimes younger patients can be prescribed treatment that includes two phases with the first phase being a single arch brace that prepares the teeth for the second phase when both arches will be treated at the same time.
However, single-arch metal braces treatment could result in an open bite, crossbite, or an overall failure to treat the overall cause of the issue, which is why it is most often not advised by orthodontists except for unique circumstances.
Single arch treatment with braces costs around $1,500 to $4,000 depending on the severity of the issue that needs treating versus $2,500 to $7,000 for a full set.
See our article: Are Regular Braces Cheaper Than Invisalign?
The brackets used in clear braces are made of either ceramic or plastic, and the archwires are made from titanium or stainless steel. This material combination allows for a transparent look that blends into the natural color of teeth, making them much less noticeable than traditional metal braces.
The number of visits needed to fit the appliances can vary depending on the complexity of each case. However, typically it takes between two to four visits over a two-to-three-month period to get it done. These appointments allow time for adjustments as well as monitoring changes in malocclusion caused by tooth movement during treatment.
As with metal braces single-arch treatment with clear braces is not normally advised by an orthodontist and the overall cost savings of doing so are minimal versus the results of what having a full set of braces will give.
Clear braces are a more expensive option than metal braces mainly due to the enhanced materials used and one can expect to pay between $2,500 to $6,000 for a single-arch treatment with a full set ranging from $4,000 to $8,000 depending on the amount of work that needs to be completed and the length of time that takes.
Lingual braces, also known as hidden braces, are a type of orthodontic dental appliance that gets connected to the back side of the teeth to realign them and create the desired effect. These braces tend to be much less visible than standard braces, making them great for those who don’t want people to know they’re wearing them.
Fitting lingual braces involves preparing the teeth so that brackets can be attached and then customizing and fitting the attachments onto each tooth. Once they’re in place, regular visits will be necessary to monitor their progress and assess any potential problems that may arise. Generally speaking, metal wires are used which need to be tightened periodically, typically every 6-8 weeks, which helps stimulate tooth movement.
Depending on the severity of each specific patient’s case, treatment with lingual braces can take anywhere from 9 months to 24 months; however, this can vary depending on age and lifestyle.
An article on the WebMD website states that there are some disadvantages with lingual braces including cleaning problems because they may make it harder to maintain your oral hygiene. It is possible that food particles can get stuck between the brackets of the braces because compared to labial braces, the lingual braces are much closer together.
It is not advised to get single-arch treatment with lingual braces as this may cause additional issues. However, in special phased treatment plans, where one arch is straightened before the other, it may be something that is advised.
When offering single arch treatment many people believe that they will save 50% on treatment costs but this is not the case. The cost of having lingual braces differs based on a specific case but ranges from $5,000 to $7,000 for a full set and $3,500 to $5,000 for one arch only.
Much of the cost of teeth straightening products are associated with the manpower that goes into making them, even with home-delivered aligners so for that reason, it is worth considering a full set of braces or clear aligners over a single arch in most cases.
Clear Aligners as an Alternative to Braces
Clear aligners are an excellent choice of treatment when a patient is looking to correct only one arch with their orthodontic treatment.
Traditional braces require the adjustment of multiple teeth at once, making them less ideal for patients who need to focus on only one area. In comparison, aligners provide more granular control in certain areas, making them a great option for correcting just one arch.
With clear aligners treatment times typically range from 6 months to 2 years depending on the case, considerably shorter than with braces. Also, with patients who have such a mild condition that they can treat one arch only, clear aligners are the best solution as there is no need for time-consuming dental appointments as everything can be arranged from the comfort of your own home, whilst even a single arch brace will require multiple in-person appointments.
See our reviews of The Best Clear Aligners.
It is also useful to know that a treatment plan that involves a full set of clear aligners is likely cheaper than one single arch brace and as effective for treating mild to mid malocclusions so there is a large cost saving too.
If you are considering treating one side of your teeth with clear aligners the cost would be around a $200 discount of getting a full set, which can be as low as $1500 with someone like Byte who offer such a service.
See our article: Can I Get Invisible Braces on the Bottom or Top Teeth Only?