Invisalign vs braces: the biggest orthodontic dilemma. Let’s take a look at what does and doesn’t qualify you for clear aligners.

Many of our patients have heard of Invisalign*[1] , the invisible braces alternative, and for a good reason. Unlike traditional metal braces, Invisalign clear aligners are hard to notice, easy to put on and remove, and comfortable. These advantages mean that most of our patients who need orthodontic treatment want to use Invisalign instead of braces. When they see our orthodontists for an initial consultation, they often ask us if straight teeth are possible with clear aligners. Or are braces their only option?

An ideal candidate for Invisalign will be someone who has issues going on with their smile, such as crowded and crooked teeth and misaligned bites. They’re not happy with their smile because of the issues and concerns they have with its appearance. However, they don’t want to go the route of traditional braces because of:

The metal and elastic look of traditional braces. Invisalign uses a series of transparent clear trays made from 3D scans of your mouth. As they mimic your smile’s curves and individual teeth, aligners almost completely mask your orthodontic work. These trays are even easier to hide than clear braces.

The initial discomfort. Brackets and wires can be rough on the sensitive tissues of your inner lips and gums, especially when you’re still getting used to them. Invisalign is made of smooth plastic fit perfectly for your mouth, so you don’t have to worry about irritation, sores, and cuts.

Adjustment pain. Braces apply pressure on every individual tooth, meaning your entire mouth can hurt for the first few days after tightening your alignment. Each Invisalign tray instead focuses on a specific area of your mouth, meaning the minimal discomfort is limited only to that area.

Months or even years of treatment time. While dental braces take an average of 18 months to 3 years to complete, Invisalign can cut that time down by more than half. Most Invisalign patients only require 8 to 18 months of treatment, and some only need as few as 6.

The dietary restrictions. Without wires or brackets, Invisalign doesn’t require any special instructions when it comes to meals. Clear aligners are removable, meaning patients don’t have to stay away from crunchy, tough, chewy, or sticky foods like they would with braces.

Clear aligner patients should also be in good dental health. Patients should have any cavities or gum disease*[2]  taken care of before starting any orthodontic work. Dental decay treatments like fillings and crowns can change a tooth’s shape. Aligner trays are crafted precisely to your smile’s measurements, so even small differences can affect their fit. In many cases, treating these teeth late will require new aligners to be made to match your “new” smile. Additionally, gum disease destroys the gums, connective tissues, and bones supporting your teeth. Trying to correct your smile’s alignment while these crucial structures are under attack is a recipe for disaster.

Who Is Not Eligible For Invisalign?

Although these are not immediate disqualifiers, you may not be a good candidate for Invisalign if:

  • You have extensive orthodontic issues.
  • You need a tooth to be moved vertically.
  • Your teeth are misshapen, and aligners will have a tough time gaining enough traction to move them.
  • You have previous dental work (bridges, implants, crowns, etc.) that may make moving teeth difficult.
  • The jawbone needs to be physically shifted for alignment.

Younger children may also not be great Invisalign patients if they are likely to lose, misplace, or forget their aligners. Unlike braces, clear aligners are removable and can be taken out for meals and cleaning. This can make mealtimes and dental hygiene less stressful. Still, some of our younger patients don’t remember to put their aligners back in afterward. While it’s okay to have your aligners out for an hour or two throughout the day, Invisalign must be worn for at least 22 hours each day to be effective. Otherwise, patients’ timeline and results can be pushed back significantly. In many cases with forgetful children, they repeatedly must return to previous alignment trays to make up for lost progress.

Who Needs Orthodontic Treatment?

Since the invention of modern braces in 1819, orthodontics has become a staple part of dentistry. It is one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures today. An estimated 4 million people in Canada and the United States are using some form of orthodontic treatment right now as you read this blog. Many more need or plan to have their smiles corrected in the near future. But what determines whether or not you need to have your smile corrected?

Our Smiling Dental orthodontists may recommend you get Invisalign if you have:

  • Crooked and protruding teeth
  • Overcrowding
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite
  • Open bite
  • Speech and eating problems caused by bite problems
  • Other mild to moderate jaw alignment issues

Invisalign is typically used to correct mild to moderate orthodontic problems, but it has its limits. Bracket braces, though they don’t have the same advantages as clear aligners, can tackle some of the most challenging and complicated cases Invisalign can’t. If you’d like to schedule a consultation to determine which treatment is right for you, you can reach our Lancaster office at (NUMBER).

Is Tooth Extraction Necessary? 

Dental extraction is always a last resort option for our Ancaster dentists, usually reserved for severe dental trauma, cavities, and gum disease. Sometimes, however, our orthodontist must remove a tooth so that your Invisalign treatment can be successful. There might not be enough room in the mouth for your teeth to shift into the places where we want them. Excessively protruding teeth might also have a high risk of becoming damaged*[3]  from impacts or grinding. All of these can contribute to us needing to remove a tooth or two before preparing your first set of clear aligner trays.

With younger patients, it may be possible to prevent the need to pull a tooth. With what’s known as “phase 1” or early orthodontic treatment, the focus isn’t on correcting final smile alignment but instead on preparing children’s mouths for their incoming teeth. Early treatment often involves palate expanders to widen narrow mouths and partial braces to move a specific section of teeth to make room for permanent ones. Sometimes an active retainer is used to make some slight changes to your teeth’s alignment. Phase 1 treatment usually happens between 6 and 9 years old. Phase 2 treatment is then used to move preteens’ and teens’ teeth into their final positions once most of their permanent teeth have come in.

What Is The Best Age For Orthodontic Treatment?

There is a reason that braces are often seen as a preteen and teen treatment. Between the ages of 8 and 14, a child’s mouth is undergoing rapid development and change. Baby teeth are falling out, adult teeth are emerging, and the head and jaw are growing to make room for it all. These factors make it easier for an orthodontist to quickly and comfortably craft a smile how we desire with minimal pressure or force. Once we enter late teenhood and early adulthood, our mouths become more set, and our teeth are more deeply rooted in the jaw. This makes our smiles more resistant to change.

However, there is no age limit for clear aligners. While your teeth’s supporting bone structure isn’t as malleable, it can still be adjusted to our orthodontist’s needs. Whether you’re 6 or 86, you can feel confident in achieving the best Invisalign before and after results. However, your age can affect the length of your treatment. A little more force is required for adult patients to make the same adjustments we would for kids and teens. Our Ancaster orthodontists will go a bit slower with our adult patients to ensure your Invisalign work doesn’t damage any teeth or underlying bone.


*link to https://www.healthline.com/health/gingivitis

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