If you are entering the process of achieving a straighter or more uniform smile with the help of orthodontics, you are most likely faced with the choice of traditional braces versus clear aligners, such as Invisalign. Both options have their respective pro’s and con’s, and it is important to ensure that you are as informed as possible in order to make the decision that is right for you. Continue reading for a breakdown of the difference between traditional orthodontics and clear aligners.
The History of Traditional Orthodontics
Braces have been a staple in aligning and straightening teeth for hundreds of years. Of course, over time, the process has been modified and improved over the years as dentistry has evolved. At first, braces were wrapped around each tooth individually. The modern braces which we are familiar with, in which the brackets are adhered directly to the teeth and connected by strong wire, were developed in the mid-1970s. Since then, there have been improvements on the look, comfort, and effectiveness on the modern brace that we have all come to know.
How Braces Work
Braces work by applying gradual and continuous pressure to the teeth in order to shift them into a more desired position within the mouth. Braces are adhered onto the surface of the teeth using an extremely strong bond that is cured with UV light. Arch wires are then attached to the brackets in order to create tension that will help guide the teeth. Traditional arch wires were made of metal, but many offices now offer clear options, as well.
Drawbacks to Braces
Of course, while braces are exceptionally successful at producing a beautiful, aligned smile, they do have their drawbacks:
- Aesthetics: Braces cover the entire surface of the teeth, and are not exactly aesthetically pleasing; hence the dreaded “brace-face” stigma.
- Limited diet: To avoid breaking the brackets on the teeth or getting food stuck in between, individuals with braces are given a list of foods that they must avoid, such as popcorn, hard candy, bubblegum, etc
- Uncomfortable: Braces can cause pressure and tension in the mouth as they work to shift the teeth, causing uncomfort for the individual.
Thankfully, modern orthodontics has produced a solution for people who wish to straighten or align their teeth without facing the negative aspects that traditional braces bring along. Clear aligners are plastic guides that are molded to perfectly fit the teeth. The individual wears the aligner for one to two weeks, then returns to change it out for the next aligner, which is adjusted slightly to encourage the teeth to move. This continues for just over a year, with the patient graduating to the next aligner every week or so until they have achieved their ideal smile. Clear aligners have proven to be just as successful as braces, and feature the following positive aspects:
- Almost invisible; no changes to physical appearance of smile
- No limited diet
- No long hours spent in the orthodontic chair having brackets applied or repaired
- Quick results
Traditional braces average in price at anywhere from $2,500 to $6,000, while clear aligners average from $3,500 to $8,000; while clear aligners offer more benefits and may be more ideal, they are more expensive.
Of course, everyone is different, and what works best for one person may not work for another; speak with your dentist or orthodontist to determine which teeth-straightening solution would be best for you.