There are multiple ways to achieve straight teeth, but some of them come with their setbacks.
Crooked, crowded, and otherwise misaligned smiles can be tricky. Not only are they unattractive, but they can create further problems like speech problems, cavities, gum disease, and recurring headaches. The best way to correct a patient’s bite problem is with orthodontic treatment. However, when fixing a person’s smile, they have to decide between bracket braces or clear aligners.
Bracket braces are the most well-known since the modern ones we know today have been around for over 200 years. But as tested and popular as braces are, there are some recurring complaints people have about this type of treatment.
1. They’re Not Aesthetic
Cosmetic dentistry is usually quick with incredible results. However, your final smile won’t be ready for months or even years with braces. Your braces look will stick with you much longer than other treatments, so the aesthetics of the process itself play a large role. Many patients don’t like how obvious braces are, and they’re very self-conscious of the brackets and wires involved.
When someone is having braces work done, it can often be hard not to notice it. You can see the metal when you smile, and elastic bands can come in all colors of the rainbow. A few patients may like choosing their braces colors and customizing their look. However, it’s a definite drawback for many patients, particularly teens and adults, who don’t want to draw attention to their smile-in-progress.
Special “clear braces” can help hide orthodontic treatment with tooth-colored or clear ceramic brackets and thinner wires. It’s more difficult to tell when someone is wearing these, but these ceramic braces aren’t invisible. They still use bulky brackets and wires, and they only mask your dental work’s appearance.
2. They’re Not Comfortable
With bracket braces, you have bulky blocks of metal that are dentally cemented to the fronts of your teeth. While they not only look awkward, they can feel it too. And before you get used to them being there, the metal can poke at the soft inner linings of your cheeks and lips. Enough abrasive rubbing can rough up and even cut these sensitive tissues.
However, while you can put dental wax over your brackets to relieve some of the sharp or rough corners, the straightening process also comes with its share of discomfort. While you’re adjusting to your new brackets and wires, it will also be challenging to eat. Your teeth will be incredibly sore in those first few weeks, and biting into anything more solid than applesauce won’t be very fun. While you will eventually adjust and the pain will go away, for the most part, this soreness will return full force with each new tightening every four to eight weeks.
3. They’re Hard To Clean
It’s bad enough when food gets stuck between our teeth, but it can be even worse when it gets trapped in teeth braces. With brackets and wiring, you have a brand new surface for your meals to cling to, and they get caught under wires and between brackets quite often. While most people can use their tongue or finger to clear any stuck food, braces don’t make it as easy. It’s hard to dislodge anything without a small, thin surface, like toothbrush bristles or dental floss.
For braces patients, this means they often have to carry their dental hygiene kit with them to prevent any embarrassing, spotty smiles. However, cleaning your bracketed teeth isn’t as straightforward. You’ll have to be extra thorough in your cleaning routine because missed plaque can lead to painful cavities and gum disease. You’ll have to brush around the brackets and reach every available surface. When flossing, you must thread the floss underneath the wires, which can be a bit of a hassle.
How Invisalign Compares
Clear aligners are considered the invisible braces of the orthodontic world, but they’re not actually braces. Invisalign uses a different method to achieve the same results, making patients’ experiences totally unique. When considering Invisalign vs braces, here’s how Invisalign directly addresses the most common braces complaints.
Clear aligners don’t rely on brackets and wires like traditional braces. They instead use transparent plastic trays, which you’ll exchange every two weeks for the next in the set. Each tray is custom-made for your specific smile, meaning you’ll be hard-pressed trying to see them while you’re wearing them. While you won’t be wearing them while eating, you should be sure to take them out when drinking coffee, tea, or red wine. These drinks can discolor your aligners and ruin your trays’ aesthetic just as well as they can stain your natural enamel.
Aligner trays are smooth and slip right over your natural teeth. There’s no bulkiness or sharp edges that require covering with soft dental wax. You don’t have to worry about abrasions, cuts, or sore cheeks. And since trays are exchanged every two weeks rather than tightened every four to eight, the tooth alignment process can be much more gradual. Adjusting to wearing your aligners is much easier and comfortable. There’s no period of pain or soreness that may make you want to take your aligners out early.
Unlike bracket braces, you don’t wear your aligners when you’re eating. Instead, you take them out and eat normally. Without tricky wires and brackets, you don’t have to worry about food or debris getting caught any more than usual. Just make sure to rinse your trays with water before popping them back in. Plaque can build up on your aligners, leaving your teeth vulnerable to potential tooth decay.
Is Invisalign As Good As Braces?
In addition to addressing the most popular complaints about bracket braces, Invisalign also has several other unique advantages:
Since Invisalign relies on trays rather than cemented brackets, they are completely removable and don’t need to be worn 24/7. You only have to wear clear aligners at least 22 hours a day. You’re free to remove them during mealtimes and while cleaning your teeth. You can also take them out during special occasions, such as parties where you don’t want to remove your aligner to have some food or wine.
What happens if I don’t wear my Invisalign for 22 hours a day? It’s not the end of the world or your smile as you know it if you forget to wear your clear aligners once or twice. Forgetting your aligner trays only loses you time rather than effectiveness. You might have to wear your current tray for a little longer to make up the difference, but you’ll be able to proceed with treatment normally once you catch up.
No Food Restrictions
With braces, you don’t just have to worry about food getting stuck under the wires. You also have to be extra cautious with the foods you eat. What can you not eat while wearing braces? Crunchy, hard, and sticky foods run the risk of bending wires or even popping a bracket clean off your tooth. And with foods that you bite into, like burgers, apples, and corn on the cob, you must cut them into smaller pieces that don’t put pressure on your front teeth brackets. Since you can remove your Invisalign during meals, you don’t have to worry about breaking your clear aligner. You can eat what you want and maintain your regular diet.
Traditional dental braces, whether metal or ceramic, can take a long time to complete. Their approach is holistic, using brackets and tightened wiring to put pressure on your entire smile at once. Because of this, treatment is usually finished in one and a half to three years. Adults tend to be on the longer end of the scale as their jaws and mouths aren’t as malleable as developing children and teens.
Clear aligners instead focus on different areas at a time with each new tray in the series. So how long do you have to wear Invisalign? Invisalign treatment can cut braces’ timeline by more than half. Aligners take an average of 8 to 18 months to complete. Your exact timeline depends on the severity and complexity of your crooked teeth. Some patients with minor problems need as few as 6.
With both treatments, you’ll need to have a retainer to ensure your results stay. When straightening your smile, the alveolar bone that supports your teeth in your jaw is continuously cycling through resorption (shrinking) and apposition (growing). This constant change in the bone allows your teeth to move where we want with little discomfort. This cycle doesn’t suddenly disappear once you’re done with braces or aligners. Your jaw will need time to stabilize and resolidify, or else you risk your smile returning to its old, crooked ways. A retainer holds your teeth in place during this period to ensure you don’t lose any of your hard-won progress. This usually takes at least nine months to a year.