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Braces vs. Clear Aligners: Which Is Best for Me?

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Which is best for me, braces or clear aligners? It’s a common question for potential orthodontic patients. Both have pros and cons. Often, the decision boils down to one or two factors, such as the severity of the dental issues or the age of the patient. At Align Orthodontics, we can offer treatment options for both and let you decide what’s best for you. 

The first step is to get general facts on both braces and clear aligners. Here are a few pros and cons for both.

Treatment With Braces: The Pros

Braces are one of the oldest forms of orthodontic treatment available. They’ve come a long way from the old days of massive metal brackets and bands. Today’s braces are smaller and more efficient than those of the past. They also can be less visible, thanks to today’s clear braces options. 

Braces have a lot going for them. Here are a few of the advantages.

Usable for All Cases

Braces can treat various orthodontic issues and can even treat several issues at once. Many patients have more than one dental problem, such as an overbite and a crossbite or an underbite and gapped teeth. 

Whether you have one orthodontic issue or several, braces can take care of them Here are some of the most common issues braces can fix: 

  • Overbites
  • Underbites
  • Crossbites
  • Open bites
  • Gapped teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Deep bites
  • Rotated teeth
  • Teeth erupted above the gumline

24-Hour Treatment

Braces can’t be removed daily, which is actually a good thing. Because they’re constantly in your mouth, they’re constantly working. That means you don’t have to worry about treatment taking longer because you didn’t wear them long enough each day.

Great for Any Age

Braces can be worn by patients of all ages, from adults to young children. This has an advantage over Invisalign, as we currently don’t offer clear aligners for young children yet.

Affordable Orthodontic Care

Metal braces usually are less expensive than other treatment options, including clear aligners. They’re the best option for those wanting exceptional care while sticking to a budget.

Choices of Braces

Today’s braces aren’t just limited to stainless steel. Clear ceramic braces are also available. They offer the same treatment as metal braces but are less visible. The clear brackets blend better with the color of your teeth, so they’re harder to see.

Treatment With Braces: The Cons

Braces have a lot going for them, but they also have a few disadvantages. Patients do have some food restrictions with braces. They’re more visible than clear aligners, and it’s slightly harder to brush and floss teeth with braces.

Brushing Teeth With Braces

Brushing and flossing with braces are a bit more difficult than with clear aligners. A soft-bristled brush will lessen the chances of of damaging a bracket or wire during brushing. Flossing is also a bit more challenging, because you have to get around the archwire. Luckily, there are several flossing tools on the market today that make it easier to thread floss through braces and floss properly.

More Visible on the Teeth

While today’s braces are smaller than traditional ones, the metal ones are still clearly visible on the teeth. Clear braces are somewhat less visible, which lessens the disadvantage. For those who feel self-conscious about wearing braces, that’s OK. Other options are available. But braces have many advantages that can outweigh the aesthetics for many people.

Food Restrictions for Braces

There are certain foods you just can’t eat with braces, because it can damage the wires or brackets. For many patients, this is the biggest disadvantage to having braces. The good news is, these food restrictions are only temporary. Once the braces are off, you can go back to enjoying these foods. 

The foods to avoid with braces are:

  • Popcorn
  • Gum
  • Hard candy (peppermints, Jawbreakers, etc.) 
  • Chewy candy (toffee, caramels, etc.)
  • Crunchy raw vegetables (Carrots, broccoli, etc.)
  • Hard foods (hard taco shells, tortilla chips, nuts, etc.)
  • Chewy foods (bagels, pizza crust, etc.)
  • Pretzels 
  • Hard bread and crackers (melba toast, hard breadsticks, etc.)

While they have a few disadvantages, braces are a tried-and-true method to solving nearly all orthodontic issues. Whether your choice is metal braces or clear ones, the end result will be a beautiful smile that will make you say “Wow!”

Treatment with Clear Aligners: The Pros

Clear aligners may be newer than braces, but they have proven to be just as effective in many cases. These aligners work in a similar way to braces, in that they use gentle pressure to move teeth into position and create a beautiful smile. Like braces, they have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Virtually Invisible

Clear aligners are created based on the digital scans of the patient, so they mold perfectly to the patient’s teeth. Invisalign and Invisalign teen are trimmed to follow the gumline, so they are virtually invisible when worn. Dr. M has been a Preferred Invisalign Provider for more than 20 years.

Solve Many Orthodontic Problems

Clear aligners can solve many orthodontic problems, including multiple problems at once:

  • Overbites
  • Underbites
  • Crossbites
  • Open bites
  • Gapped teeth
  • Crowded teeth

Food Restrictions Not Needed

The biggest disadvantage of braces may be the biggest advantage to clear aligners — food restrictions. While there are several for braces, there is no need for food restrictions for clear aligners. That’s because clear aligners can be removed for eating and drinking. You will need to brush your teeth and rinse the aligners before putting them back into your mouth, but it’s worth it for those hard tacos on Taco Tuesday!

Brushing and Flossing Teeth Are Easier

Brushing and flossing are easy with clear aligners. As with eating and drinking, you simply remove the aligners to brush and floss your teeth. No need for any special flossing tools!

Faster Treatment Times

Clear aligners tend to take less time for treatment than braces. Patients where braces an average of 12-24 months. By contrast, clear aligners average 9-15 months. Because they’re clear, it’s easy to see treatment progress within weeks. Others can see it, too!

Treatment with Clear Aligners: The Cons

Treatment Capabilities vs. Braces

Clear aligners continue to advance in technology, but they can’t solve quite as many issues as braces. In many severe cases, braces work better than clear aligners. In the most severe cases, braces are the only option. However, Dr. M’s experience with Invisalign means he can provide treatment with clear aligners that other orthodontists may not be able to do. He will be able to evaluate your case and determine whether clear aligners will work for you, or if braces are the better option. 

Wearing Clear Aligners as Directed

Clear aligners can only be 100% effective if they are worn as prescribed. That means you have to wear them 22 hours a day, at least. Whereas braces work 24/7 because they aren’t removable, clear aligners only work as long as they are worn. If you don’t wear them as prescribed, your treatment time may take longer.

Clear Aligners Can Be Lost

Clear aligners can be lost or damaged because they’re removable. It’s essential that you keep your aligners in their protective case when they aren’t being worn. The case must be kept out of reach of children and pets, which can harm or destroy them.

Which to Choose?

With so many pros and cons, how do you decide which treatment is best for you? This is where Dr. M comes in! He and his team will evaluate your orthodontic problems and determine the best options available for your treatment. 
The best way to find out which option is best is to request an evaluation for an in-person visit, or you can take a virtual orthodontic exam from the comfort of your own home! If you are in Grand Rapids or the West Michigan areas, Align Orthodontics is available to provide the best options available for your treatment.

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