What’s the best method to straighten your teeth: braces or clear aligners? The answer is that neither option is better than the other. Conventional braces and clear aligners can both create beautiful smiles. Both methods do have their pros and cons. Let’s learn a bit about both options to help you decide which would best suit your unique needs.
Conventional braces are available in metal, ceramic, and even gold. The brackets are smaller and more discreet than ever. Nearly any orthodontic issue can be solved with braces. Adjustments are performed about every 6-8 weeks, so you’ll need to plan on spending some time in your orthodontist’s chair about every other month.
Braces can be a good treatment option because they tend to be more effective for complex orthodontic issues. They are more affordable than clear aligners. They cannot get misplaced, lost, or eaten by your dog, because they’re cemented to your teeth. Braces require less self discipline than clear aligners do, because you won’t have the option of popping them out when your teeth feel sore. On the other hand, brushing and flossing can be more challenging with braces on. If patients have poor hygiene while in braces, some discoloration of the teeth can occur. Patients also have to be more mindful of their eating habits while in braces, as they must avoid foods that are hard or sticky. If brackets break or wires start poking, it’s necessary to come to the office for repair, which doesn’t happen with clear aligners.
Clear aligners are designed to be as invisible as possible. Invisalign is the most well-known brand, but clear aligners are actually provided by several different manufacturers now. A digital scan is taken of your mouth and your orthodontist creates a prescription for your aligners. The prescription is sent to the manufacturer and they send back a complete set of aligners. Generally, patients wear each set for one to two weeks, depending on what the orthodontist chooses. Often, small dots of tooth-colored composite are placed on some teeth to help guide them to their proper position.
Clear aligners are a nice alternative to braces because they are very discreet and can still give great results. You will need less chair time so you will be able to come into the office less often. It is also easier to keep your teeth clean because you can remove the aligners completely to brush and floss.
However, aligners are oftentimes more expensive than conventional braces. In addition, you must have good self-discipline for aligners to work well for you. The aligners must be worn at all times except when eating or brushing. Good hygiene habits are essential, as your teeth must always be clean when you put your aligners in if you wish to avoid staining. If you have a tendency to misplace things, you will want to be careful with these. Because they’re nearly invisible, they are easy to lose! But worry not, your orthodontist can order a replacement aligner if needed. Finally, clear aligners may not be appropriate for more severe cases.
Neither option is “right” or “wrong”, it just depends on your own lifestyle and preferences. Both braces and clear aligners will require some level of patient compliance for them to be effective. It is normal and common to have some discomfort with both options, as moving teeth can cause them to be sore. At the end of treatment, all orthodontic patients, regardless of method, will require a retainer to keep their smile straight. Peterson Family Orthodontics offers both braces and clear aligners. At your free consultation appointment, Dr. Peterson and his team can help you weigh your options and decide which is best for you.