Orthodontics can give a smile a new lease on life, but many patients are wary about how braces will affect their current lifestyle.
In our dentists’* thirteen years of experience, we’ve had multiple patients see us wanting braces. However, even some of the most enthusiastic patients can have some concerns about what orthodontic treatment will be like. For some, these worries may prevent them from getting the dental work they need to keep their smiles handsome and healthy. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Many patients fear that their braces cost will be way over budget for them and their families. Either they can’t afford treatment, or they worry that the price will affect their other activities in their daily lives. The main cost factor for braces is how long you will need treatment, so often it’s the patients who would benefit the most from braces who worry they can’t afford it.
Because braces are most popular with our younger patients, they are typically seen as a “teen treatment.” Many of our adult patients don’t want to appear juvenile by sporting a grin adorned with metal brackets, wires, and colorful elastic bands. They especially don’t want to look adolescent to their coworkers while at work. Bracket braces treatment can take months and sometimes even years. These patients don’t want to have to worry about the current aesthetics of their smile just for the promise it will one day look better way down the line.
When braces are first cemented to the fronts of patients’ teeth, it can take a month to get used to the feel of them against your inner cheeks and lips. Most patients need another five to forget that they’re there at all. In the first week especially, brackets and wires can painfully rub against and poke their inner cheeks and lips, causing sores and even small cuts. Dental wax is used to cover the bracket surface, but can often be more of a balm than a solution until the mouth feels more comfortable.
Most orthodontic braces may be made of metal, but that doesn’t mean that they’re indestructible. Eating crunchy, sticky, or chewy foods can accidentally bend a wire or pop a bracket clean off the tooth’s surface. To keep dental braces in pristine condition, patients must avoid foods like:
- Gum with sugar
- Hard-shell tacos
Foods that you bite into, like burgers, corn on the cob, apples, and carrots, must be cut into smaller pieces. Otherwise, the force on your front teeth can snap the brackets off.
The Time Commitment
Unlike other cosmetic procedures like professional whitening or dental veneers, orthodontic treatment can’t be finished in one or two visits. The teeth, gums, and supporting bone structure are complex, requiring a deft and gentle hand to shift everything where we want them. Applying too much force at once can be painful and potentially damage teeth, so braces take things slow and steady. For most patients, their treatment takes between 18 months and 3 years. An additional year minimum with a teeth retainer is needed to ensure their teeth don’t lose their place and set patients back to square one.
Why Is Straightening Your Teeth Important?
While many adults choose to forego braces treatment for these reasons, what they don’t understand is just how straight teeth can improve their daily lives. As a cosmetic dentistry procedure, one of the obvious benefits of orthodontics is to finally get rid of your smile’s crooked, crowded, and misaligned look. A person’s smile is one of the first things we notice when meeting someone for the first time, and it can be nerve-wracking having crooked teeth. Patients with straighter teeth feel more confident showing off their pearly whites, without the need for closed-lip smiles or hiding behind their hands.
However, orthodontics isn’t just about aesthetics. Smile alignment treatment gives our patients these incredible benefits too:
Better dental health. With straight teeth, it becomes easier for you to brush and floss your teeth without issue. Blood can also flow to your gums more efficiently, allowing your gums and teeth to stay healthier against tooth decay and periodontal disease.
Better overall health. Our dental health can have a drastic effect on our overall health* if we let it get out of hand. Severe dental decay and gum disease can lead oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and spread to the rest of the body. This can put you at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Improved speech and eating. The way our teeth and jaws are aligned can affect the way we talk and eat. When the upper and lower jaws can’t meet correctly, they can also wear away at the outer tooth enamel at an unusual rate.
Less neck pain and fewer headaches. Misaligned jaws and crooked teeth put unnecessary strain and pressure on your teeth, gums, neck, and jaw muscles. This can lead to chronic headaches, severe neck pain, and even TMJ disorder.
Reduced chance of tooth injury. If a dental accident happens, such as during contact sports or a car accident, protruding or crowded teeth are more likely to break. For some patients, their orthodontic problems can also cause nighttime teeth grinding, leading to teeth cracking and chipping under pressure.
Less costly overall. Due to the lower risk for cavities, gum disease, and tooth trauma, patients often save much more money with straighter teeth. Otherwise necessary treatments like fillings, crowns, and veneers can significantly drop.
What Did Our Hygienist Jessica Choose?
After our dental hygienist Jessica graduated from dental hygiene college, she decided to celebrate with Invisalign treatment* . She had already had braces beforehand, and she wanted to know first-hand the difference between both teeth straightening options. If she recommended one or the other to her patients, she wanted to make sure they could trust her honest judgment and opinion. Her personal experience allows her—and the rest of our orthodontist staff at Smiling Dental—to answer patients’ most frequently asked questions about Invisalign vs braces.
Do Clear Aligners Really Work?
Unlike metal braces, Invisalign doesn’t rely on brackets and wires to move your teeth into place. Instead, it uses a series of plastic clear aligner trays made from 3D scans taken of your smile to push your teeth and jaw where we want them gradually. These trays are exchanged every two weeks, with each focusing on a different area of your mouth to correct. This ends up being much gentler and more comfortable than braces, which apply more force on each tooth and cause the entire mouth discomfort.
While Invisalign doesn’t use the same method to straighten teeth as braces, it is just as effective with slight to moderate orthodontic issues. Like braces, clear aligners can correct:
- Crowded and crooked teeth
- Spaces between teeth
- Overbite and underbite
- Open bite
- Other jaw alignment problems
- Alignment-caused speech problems
What Type of Braces Are Best For Adults?
Ultimately, despite the multiple types of braces available in the dental world, most adult patients prefer Invisalign treatment if they can. They address most of the specific issues people have with dental braces.
Invisalign are the nearly invisible braces, using transparent trays fit to your teeth perfectly. Our adult patients find that their coworkers, friends, and family rarely notice when they are wearing their clear aligners. Even when people know you’re straightening your teeth, you don’t have to worry about someone getting distracted by your treatment or thinking you look childish. Without any brackets, Invisalign beats out even the subtle tooth-colored ceramic of clear braces.
Orthodontic brackets don’t just ruin your smile’s look—they can be painful, too. Clear aligners, however, don’t use awkward and bulky brackets. The smooth plastic trays are molded to your mouth to keep your lips and gums from becoming irritated. You’ll also switch out aligner trays every two weeks rather than tightening them once every one or two months, allowing for a gentler, more consistent pressure.
Since Invisalign trays are removable, you don’t have to worry about any food restrictions or special preparation instructions when it comes to mealtime. You can feel free to eat what you want without the fear of popping a bracket or bending a wire. Just make sure you rinse or clean your aligners afterward to keep food particles, dental plaque, and bacteria from sticking to the trays.
The Time Commitment
Since clear aligners don’t use the same method of straightening teeth, they also have a different timeframe than other types of braces. Invisalign can cut down on months or even years of treatment. On average, Invisalign treatment only takes 8 to 18 months to complete for our adult patients, compared to braces’ 18 to 36. For patients with less significant orthodontic issues, such as only needing a few specific teeth moved, treatment can last as little as 6 months.
*link to https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/how-poor-dental-care-can-affect-your-overall-health-0313