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Orthodontics/braces on Porcelain crowns


I have had clear braces put on my porcelain crowns.  At the time the orthodontist told me that it would be no problem at all, except they may not adhere to the crowns well, and she did some special treatment which included roughing up the surface of the crown with her machine and I believe also with some acid.  Please note,  I have since switched orthodontists and this one has told me crowns can break when the brackets are removed.

The previous orthodontist used to take  3 or 4 brackets off each time I went in for tightening and each tightening appointment would take one hour!  It was only  after speaking to others, that I realized this wasn't normal.  Each time she took them off, it was excrutiatingly painful, which i also understand is not normal.  I don't know if it was so painful because she was trying to save the brackets as she always reused the same ones, just repositioned them, or if she used some other type of glue.  I should mention that I'm currently living in Bangkok!

Nevertheless, I am getting my braces off next week and I am terrified my porcelain crowns will break.  My question is, is there a gentler way to loosen the brackets in order to save the crowns?  The crowns are on my two front teeth; one of which also has a root canal, so if I can save having to go through the ordeal of replacing them again, that would be wonderful!  Would heat or cold somehow cause the glue to expand or shrink, hence popping off the clear bracket?  Just a thought!  I would be so grateful for any tips, advice, guidance!  Just a note, I am 47 years old.

Many, many  thanks!


Dear Kate,

What I write here are only my opinions based on very limited information. My comments should not be viewed as a definitive diagnosis or any form of  treatment recommendation.  Indeed, in the ultimate analysis all final decisions, particularly clinical ones, should  only be made by qualified doctors who have had a chance to see you in person and who have had an opportunity to take and analyze proper diagnostic records.

Okay… having said  that…  your  questions focused on removal of ceramic "clear" brackets on "porcelain" crowns in conjunction with end of you orthodontic treatment..  You  wrote:

 My question is, is there a gentler way to loosen the brackets in order to save the crowns?  

I am going to approach this in several ways.  First of all there are several types of "clear" brackets. Some are made of ceramic materials, other of ceramic/fibreglass or resin composites, and more. The ceramic style "clear" brackets also have various formulations. The removal of bonded ceramic brackets whatever their type, often presents a challenge to the clinician. Whereas metal brackets have the ability to bend and distort when squeezed with an orthodontic bracket removal plier,  often making de-bonding of the brackets an easy affair, ceramic brackets are very rigid.  Removing ceramic brackets sometimes results in the brackets shattering.

Now, the fact that your "ceramic brackets" are bonded to ceramic crowns makes for a very challenging situation indeed. You mentioned that the ceramic crowns were "roughened up" a little to improve the bonding of the ceramic brackets to the ceramic surface of the crowns. It may or may not be possible to polish the crowns back to their original glaze once the brackets are removed.

As far as the actual removal, there are some special instruments which can use heat to expedite bracket removal. How successful this may be with your particular bracket set up is problematic. Perhaps the best solution for you Kate would be to have the clinician first try to gently wiggle the ceramic bracket to see if they separate easily. If not, then the bracket can be gently ground away with a diamond high speed  burr and in that way there is not major pressure applied to the tooth, especially the one which has experienced a root canal.

Even then, once removed,  the original "roughening" of the porcelain in order to enhance the bonding strength of the original brackets may be dramatic enough to warrant assessing for a new crown or possible polishing with special polishing tips using a slow speed dental hand piece (drill).

Check with your new Orthodontist. He or she really is in a better situation to determine the best course of action. Grinding or gentle wiggling are the basic two means of removal. I would also recommend an X-ray of the incisor which had root canal therapy to see if there have been any dramatic changes such as root blunting or resorption.  


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Paul Supan, DDS, MA, MPH


First may I say please set your questions to Public so other readers can benefit from the response. Also, if you look at my comprehensive answers, they are not short 1 or 2 paragraph quickie replies that anyone can type out in < 5 minutes. Instead I often will ask other colleagues in other specialties for their advice in order to provide you the questioner with a more interdisciplinary perspective. This all takes time. I ask for readers to therefore allow 5-7 days. You will be rewarded with a very detailed response.

Because of the nature of Orthodontic questions, any pictures of the teeth and X-ray images would be very helpful. If you write to me and explain that you have crooked overlapping front teeth can be interpreted in many many ways, and my goal is to provide a specific response that meets your needs.

I hold double specialty credentials. I am Board Certified in Orthodontics and Board Eligible in Dental Public Health. I welcome questions regarding Braces, Invisible Braces, & Invisalign, as well as issues involving combination Cosmetic Dentistry and Orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics alone sometimes is not enough to achieve that perfect smile. Gingival (gum) re-contouring, tooth reshaping, bonding and other services are sometimes needed. I also have substantial experience in the areas of Infection Control and Sterilization in the Dental Environment. My personal websites and are non-commercial for information purposes only and may provide you with some background to more precisely frame your question for

Please allow a week for a reply. I am in full time Private Practice, lecture on occasion, and am involved in many volunteer activities. I am therefore not always able to respond to questions straight away. Your understanding is appreciated.


Board Certified Orthodontist (ABO Diplomate) with over 25 years of Private Practice experience. Second Specialty Certificate in Dental Public Health with research experience at NIH, and Epidemiology Training & Research at Harvard, NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. Postgraduate Masters degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, as well as a Master of Arts Degree in Education.

American Dental Association, American Association of Orthodontists, Academy of General Dentistry, College of Diplomates of the ABO, OSAP - Office Sterilization & Asepsis Procedures Organization, Others

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BS College of William & Mary, DDS Medical College of Virginia, Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree Harvard School of Public Health. Dental Public Health Specialty Certificate from NIH. Orthodontic Specialty Certificate from University of Rochester Eastman Dental Center. USPHS clinical research experience at NIH, and Epidemiology Training & Research at Harvard, NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control. Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD), and Fully Board Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics. Board Eligible in Dental Public Health. Visiting Adjunct Associate Professor at the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, Nashville, Tennessee.

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