Most people are not born with perfect teeth. In fact, only about 35% of people have straight incisors, and over 50% of every demographic needs some kind of orthodonture treatment. Wearing aligners or having once worn braces has become the norm for modern professionals, and teens now have a larger selection than ever in dental alignment – as soon as all their adult teeth grow in.
If you are preparing to align your teeth or help your child, choose their orthodonture, the biggest decision to make is between traditional braces and clear aligners. Braces are a teenage tradition, practically a rite of passage, but they are also no longer necessary for minor corrections. Clear aligners offer invisible, comfortable alignment over a fairly short period, and are mainly used for minor to moderate corrections.
Braces or clear aligners? Which is best for you?
What to Know About Traditional Braces
Traditional braces are made of brackets that attach to every tooth, connected by wires that are tightened to pull teeth exactly where they need to be. It’s pretty steampunk when you think about it, and a technology older than most people realize. But they are also notoriously uncomfortable and pose serious restrictions on your diet.
Repair Seriously Misaligned Teeth
Traditional braces are the only good solution for severe misalignment that may require fully migrating teeth from overlapping and pointing in the wrong direction into healthier positions through the mechanics of wire tension. If your teeth – or your child’s teeth – are far out of position, braces may be the best bet.
Drink Anything, Eat Very Carefully
Traditional braces allow you to drink anything. They don’t stain and aren’t heat resistant, but your diet of solid foods will be noticeably limited. Stay away from hard candies and chewy foods of all kinds. Be careful about popcorn kernels and fruit skins. Braces often require more careful food selection and preparation, and if they become sore you may need to switch to a mostly liquid diet.
Brush, Brush, Brush
Oral hygiene is essential when wearing braces. The last thing you want is plaque hiding behind your wires and around your brackets. You will get very practiced and skilled at tooth brushing and approved braces maintenance over the one to two years wearing braces for an orthodontic correction.
Colorful or Subtle
Some teens love the colorful brackets and wires of braces and have fun personalizing each time they go to the dentist. Others may choose interior (behind the teeth) braces or ceramic braces that are less apparent while repairing a major alignment concern.
Going Back to the Orthodontist Chair (Again)
With braces, you’ll need to go in for a wire adjustment every four to six weeks. This is great if you really like your orthodontist, but not if you have a busy schedule or don’t enjoy wire tightenings.
Don’t Forget Your Retainer
When choosing between clear aligners and traditional braces: don’t forget, that you’ll still need to wear a retainer for several months after the braces come off. This is like wearing an aligner, but with the braces first.
What to Know About Clear Aligners
Clear aligners are clear orthodontic aligners. Using medical-grade plastic, the aligners gently push your teeth from where they are to where they need to go. The clear plastic and form-fitting design make clear aligners difficult to see, giving them their 20-year reputation as invisible braces.
Minor to Moderate Alignment
Clear aligners are best for minor to moderate orthodontic alignment. Most people who need orthodonture fall into this category and can correct moderate misalignment in their teeth by wearing clear aligners. Because of this, millions of professionals who missed orthodonture in their teens have been able to invisibly correct their mild to moderate dental misalignment with confidence as adults.
Invisible and Casual
Most people do not want to think that everyone is looking at their teeth, especially if alignment correction is on your mind. Clear aligners give you the opportunity to live and smile as you would normally, without a scraping inside your lips or the self-consciousness that can come from realizing that your teeth might be extra visible.
Comfortable and Wire-Free
For those who are uncomfortable with the idea of brackets, wires, and occasional mouth pain – clear aligners are a great alternative to braces. Clear aligners are made of flexible plastic fitted to your mouth to avoid cut gums or scraped lips and cheeks. The discomfort of realignment is also minor, compared to the days of liquid diet and intense pain after braces are tightened.
Wear for 20-22 Hours a Day
Braces and clear aligners need to work all day, every day, for several months to have the desired effect on your teeth. However, clear aligners are taken out when you eat or drink – which means remembering to put them back in to achieve the 20-22 hours of alignment you need each day.
Take Off to Eat or Drink, Always Brush After
The one thing that you should know about clear aligners is that meals and snacks can be tricky. You can drink water in clear aligners but will need to take out your aligners in order to eat or drink anything with calories or color. The soft plastic is heat sensitive and can stain if exposed to food or drink with strong colors.
You will also want to brush your teeth thoroughly before putting aligners back in. You don’t want to snuggle plaque up to your teeth inside the aligner.
Free from the Orthodontist
Unlike braces, clear aligners don’t need adjustment. This means you could spend your 6-24 months wearing aligners almost orthodontist-free. Just two to four checkups a year are all you might need to ensure your teeth are aligning as intended.
Braces or Clear aligners? Which is Best for You?
If you or your child are in need of orthodontic correction, should you choose braces or clear aligners? The choice depends on how much alignment is needed and also the lifestyle and stylistic choices you might want to make. Each requires a certain amount of discipline – to eat right or take out aligners before eating – and each has unique benefits. However, most professionals and teens today are opting for invisible aligners due to the increased comfort, decreased orthodontist trips, and the enjoyment of a carefree smile during the alignment process.
If you are looking for more information on clear aligners, schedule your appointment now!