Ceramic brackets are made of composite materials. They are very strong and generally do not stain. Three popular brands are Clarity and Transcend, made by 3M Unitek; and Mystique, made by GAC. Adults like to choose ceramic because they "blend in" with the teeth and are less noticeable than metal. These are the type of braces actor Tom Cruise had.
The ligatures (tiny rubber bands) that hold the arch wire on to the ceramic brackets are often white or clear. This looks great at first, but the ligatures can stain (see the Help! Did I Stain My Braces?). Unless you eat a lot of curry, smoke, or drink a lot of black coffee, this generally isn't a problem. Note that the ligatures are changed each time you get an adjustment -- usually, monthly. It's only the ligatures that stain, not the brackets themselves!
- They blend in with most teeth, particularly if they are not perfectly white. They are not very noticeable at a distance or in photos.
- Some people feel that they are more comfortable than metal and irritate your gums less.
- Contrary to what you may have heard, ceramic brackets do not usually break or come off your teeth. They are very strong, and if bound with a plasma light, stay on as well as metal brackets.
- The clear or white ligatures (little elastics that hold the arch wire to the brackets) can stain, which defeats esthetics of the ceramic braces. But those are changed at your monthly adjustment.
- Ceramic brackets are are usually more expensive than traditional metal brackets.
- Treatment can take a few months longer in ceramic braces.
- From a purely esthetic point of view, they are a bit larger than metal brackets.
If you have severe problems, your orthodontist will not use ceramic brackets in many cases, because they may not be strong enough to withstand the forces of some types of treatment.