Braces and clear aligners (Invisalign), are two very popular and effective methods of orthodontic treatment. It’s very common to see either one or the other treating anything from minor to severe dental irregularities - so what makes the two choices different, and what makes patients go with either one or the other? Understanding the main differences and the individual strengths of each will help you make an educated decision, and construct a treatment plan that works just for you!
Understanding the Differences
The composition of both clear aligners and traditional braces is a huge thing that sets them apart. You’re likely familiar with the silver brackets and wires that are the main staple of braces, but clear aligners looks quite different, and is nearly invisible when being worn. This is often why it’s an appealing alternative; professional adults or older teenagers tend to prefer something subtle and discreet to aid their smile transformation.
While braces are bonded to your teeth and left attached for the length of your treatment, clear aligners are removable. You’re also required to go through many different sets of clear aligners, while braces are more of a one and done process, which some patients prefer. This comes with ups and downs for both methods of treatment, all of which we’ll go over below.
How are Clear Aligners Different?
Like we mentioned above, one of the biggest factors that sets the two apart is general appearance. Invisalign, or clear aligners, are extremely versatile, and have many of the same capabilities as traditional braces when it comes to treating common to complex cases. The main difference is, the treatment they provide can remain almost entirely unseen!
This helps boost the self-esteem of patients, and takes a little bit of the pressure of orthodontic treatment off. When your treatment is discreet, all you have to worry about is your treatment itself, without having to fret over details such as your appearance. You’ll be able to smile freely and with confidence, all the while knowing nobody knows your secret.
One of the most interesting things about Invisalign treatment is the way the aligners are crafted. In order to qualify for Invisalign, your orthodontist will perform a full evaluation to ensure Invisalign will be able to accurately treat you. Once this evaluation is finished and you’ve been diagnosed, your orthodontist will make sure you get aligners that will fit you properly, and work on every problem area they’ve identified.
Your orthodontist will take impressions and x-rays of your teeth and jaw to send to the manufacturer. They’ll also include detailed instructions for the manufacturer so they know exactly what is needed for your treatment to be perfect! Sometimes, there can be several rounds of evaluations to make sure the aligners are just right for you.
Once the clear aligners arrive, you’ll wear each set for about one to two weeks as directed by your orthodontist. Once you’ve finished with one set of aligners, you simply move on to the next. This involves a very interactive treatment plan, where you have consistent checkups with your orthodontist so they can ensure the aligners are moving your teeth in all the right places.
What sets it apart from braces is that Invisalign is removable, which comes in handy for eating, and maintaining great oral hygiene. Clear aligners let you eat all your favorite foods, and have a far less restricted diet than you would with braces. Patients tend to love this perk, along with the added factor of discretion that comes with the nearly invisible aligners.
Due to Invisalign being removable, the success of your treatment is entirely dependent on you, and how willing you are to stick to a strict wear schedule. While braces are bonded and left until your orthodontist removes them, leaving little chance of you not fulfilling your end of the treatment requirements, Invisalign can be taken out at any time. In order for your treatment to be successful, you need to wear your clear aligners for at least 22 hours per day. This can be difficult for some to keep track of, and may pose a challenge if you consistently forget to put them back in. The bottom line is, your orthodontist will guide you through the orthodontic treatment process and help to organize it for you, but it’s up to you to wear your aligners to get the outcome you want!
How Are Braces Different?
Braces have been successfully used for orthodontic treatment for thousands of years, and are typically the first thing that comes to mind when you’re considering straightening your teeth. While clear aligners are known to tackle complex orthodontic cases, braces have a reputation for being a little better at repairing issues such as severe crowding, or extremely crooked teeth. In fact, there are many cases in which braces are the only option if a patient’s case is particularly complicated, making them a universally safe choice for any and all treatment needed.
Braces are bonded to your teeth and left in place until your treatment has been completed. This comes with different expectations, different diets, and different cleaning routines. It also takes the pressure off when it comes to completing your treatment on time, as they can’t be removed until it’s all over!
Because braces are attached for the duration of your treatment, you need to be very diligent about carefully cleaning all the brackets and wires, as well as your own teeth. Braces pose a different challenge. In saying that, there are so many tools and tricks that make for easy brushing and flossing, so you can maintain your oral health perfectly, even with braces. Your orthodontist will also be able to provide you with advice for how to keep your teeth and braces clean, so when your braces do come off, your smile is perfectly healthy!
Braces don’t have as much buildup as Clear Aligners (Invisalign). In fact, braces can often be put on the same day as your consultation, as there’s no customizable clear aligners involved. This means that if you choose to go with braces for your treatment, you don’t need to wait to start!
In summary, Invisalign works for a variety of different cases with the added benefit of invisibility, but when it comes to extremely complex cases, braces can be the most dependable option. Always talk to your orthodontist so they can recommend the best option for your orthodontic treatment.