Invisalign vs. Braces
Feel like your bite is off, or your teeth aren’t as straight as you’d like them to be? Don’t worry, misaligned bites and crooked teeth are very common. This could be due to dental habits like nail biting or thumb-sucking, early or late tooth loss, or from being passed down through genetic traits. Luckily, orthodontic treatment can correct these issues. Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics is a specialty branch of dentistry that helps diagnose, prevent, and correct irregularities of the teeth and jaws, commonly through use of braces or clear aligners like Invisalign. Having straight teeth is not only cosmetically beneficial, but also is necessary for proper chewing and speaking. Plus, crowded teeth can be a lot more challenging to clean and can lead to dental cavities and/or gum disease. In addition, misaligned bites may contribute to headaches and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which can be a real pain.
Braces and clear aligners like Invisalign can help fix teeth that are too far forward, crowded, close spaces, and much more for people of any age! Other common issues that often require orthodontics include overbites, underbites, crossbites, open bites, and off-centered upper and lower midlines.
Depending on the severity of your case, your orthodontic treatment may be provided by a general dentist or an orthodontist. To determine which orthodontic treatment options are best suited for you, your dental professional will perform a clinical exam, take impression molds of your teeth, and x-rays. With this diagnostic information, they will recommend the best appliances to help you achieve a healthy and beautiful smile. You will also be informed of the estimated treatment time for wearing the appliances based on your individual case. Typically, individuals are in active orthodontic treatment ranging from 1-3 years. This is followed by a phase of retention to help keep the teeth in their new position through the use of a retainer.
There are many orthodontic appliances to help move your teeth, manage your oral muscles, and even position your jaw, ranging from fixed to removable options. Here we will discuss traditional braces and Invisalign Clear Aligners:
- Traditional braces are simpler and more comfortable than ever before. Braces are typically the most common fixed appliance used in orthodontics. They are placed on the teeth and will apply a constant gentle pressure to help move them slowly. Braces are regularly tightened by your dentist or orthodontist to help achieve the movement. Braces involve small brackets or sometimes bands that are temporarily glued to your teeth, so you don’t have to worry about losing them like with clear aligners. In addition, there is a wire that goes into the bracket, and colorful ties available that help hold the wire inside the bracket. There are also more discrete colors like clear or gray to meet your exact desires. There are also different bracket options available, including metal gray color brackets or ceramic tooth-colored brackets. Sometimes specific brackets can be placed behind your teeth. Your dental professional will help recommend the best option for your specific needs. With traditional brackets, you may not have the luxury of eating certain foods that you enjoy. Hard and sticky foods such as popcorn, nuts, caramel, chewing gum, and apples for instance should be avoided. This will help to prevent the braces from breaking and lower your risk of sticky foods building up and causing tooth decay.
- Invisalign Clear Aligners are becoming an increasingly popular removable appliance option to help straighten teeth. One of the biggest benefits of Invisalign is their nearly invisible appearance. Instead of metal wires and brackets, clear aligners resemble thin plastic trays fit to the shape of your teeth that can be removed while eating, brushing, and flossing. Not to mention, they’re comfortable, too! Individuals with Invisalign will receive multiple sets of aligner trays that will provide a constant gentle pressure to move teeth. Each set will be worn for a designated time per the recommendation of your dentist or orthodontist (typically about 2 weeks) until a new set is given. The trays should be worn approximately 22 hours a day. The aligners are also very durable, and often result in fewer emergency visits for broken appliances when compared with traditional braces. However, unlike fixed traditional braces, removable clear aligners require your full compliance in wearing them to achieve results. In addition, clear aligners are often more expensive than traditional braces.
Regardless of which orthodontic appliance you are using, it’s necessary to keep your teeth clean and practice good oral hygiene. Plus, limiting your consumption of sugary and acidic foods and beverages can help lower your risk of developing tooth decay. Your dentist will help provide you with instructions and recommendations to help you maintain your teeth with braces or Invisalign.