A person’s smile is considered to be one of their best features, but having crooked teeth can lower your confidence, taking away from the shine of those pearly whites. That, however, is no reason to worry, as there are a lot of ways in which you can deal with problems related to your “orofacial” appearance.
A trip to the dentist can help you in understanding what type of issue you are facing – overcrowding, crooked teeth, overbites, underbites, issues with the jaw, and so on – and help devise the right orthodontic treatment for these problems. One of the most commonly used treatment options is putting on braces. This can help in getting your teeth as close to their ideal position as possible. However, there are many types of braces, which can get a little confusing for most people.
To understand what option may be better for you, it is important that you learn more about the different types of braces – traditional and Invisalign – and delve deeper into the advantages and possible disadvantages of choosing one of these two options.
What Are Braces?
The commonly used term for orthodontic brackets is braces. There are tiny orthodontic appliances that are used by dentists or orthodontists to guide your teeth into a set position. They are also used to correct bites by altering the original position of the teeth. Braces are attached to the front – in certain situations, back – of your teeth with the help of special bonding glue. The procedure needs expertise, which is why it should only be carried out by professionals in the field.
Braces are made up of the metal brackets and the wires that go through them for greater stability. The base of the brackets looks like a small pad and comes in direct contact with your teeth. There is a slot in these brackets, which allows the wire to go through it. The mechanism is held in place by small rubber bands.
When you decide to get braces, you will need to set up an appointment for the braces to be put in place. There will be a controlled amount of force applied on your teeth in a specific direction, through which the teeth should move into their correct place over time. You will have to visit the orthodontic specialist regularly so that your braces can be tightened.
Different Types of Braces
Orthodontic brackets are not just made of metal anymore. There are many different types of braces available in the market. This difference is usually highlighted through the kind of material that is used to build the braces. Some of the most commonly used types of braces are mentioned below.
The most conventional type of braces is the metal braces. There are usually two parts to these. The first is the bracket – made of metal – that goes onto the teeth. The second is the metal wire that moves through the slots of the brackets and holds them in place to apply gradual pressure on the teeth to move. These braces are relatively inexpensive, making them one of the most common types of braces used by teenagers.
A popular alternative to the traditional braces is braces made out of ceramic. As the color of the braces is similar to the color of most people’s teeth, it is difficult to notice these braces once they are on. In addition to this, orthodontists try to use wires of the same color, giving the patient a sleeker look. The problem with these is that ceramic braces can get discolored without proper care.
Instead of placing the brackets on the outside of your teeth, orthodontists can place them on the inside of the bite.
With this, they ensure that braces do the work without showing themselves. However, it can be difficult to clean these or talk, when these braces are on.
Instead of using tiny rubber bands – like in the case of traditional braces – these braces use brackets that are designed to have clips to hold on to the wire. These are some of the most common types of braces used by orthodontists because of their versatility.
The last type of braces to be mentioned here – and discussed in greater detail below – is Invisalign. As the name suggests, these are invisible aligners that can help your teeth get to their desired position without looking odd. It is, however, an expensive option.
What Is Invisalign?
Another great way to align your teeth and get them into their correct position is turning to Invisalign. This is a customized aligner that needs to be changed regularly – almost every two weeks – for anywhere between six months and eighteen months. The period of time will depend on the degree of misalignment.
Invisalign works in a manner similar to dental retainers, which prevent your teeth from getting out of place. Invisalign aligners are clear and can be computer generated through an impression of your teeth. The mold is important, as the fitting of the aligner needs to be specifically designed for your teeth.
As Invisalign is clear, no one will be able to tell that you have an aligner on. It will help in aligning your teeth relatively faster, and in a more convenient manner. The aligner needs to be on your teeth for about 22 hours every day. This means you will need to sleep with Invisalign on your teeth. When you are eating or cleaning your teeth, you will have to take off the aligners. This also makes for one of the best parts about opting for Invisalign. Instead of having it on all day – permanently for a long period of time as is the case with braces – Invisalign can be removed when the need arises.
How Is Invisalign Different from Clear Braces?
Many people confuse Invisalign with clear or ceramic braces. Both these options were discussed earlier but it is important to understand these differences so that you can make an informed choice when it comes to dealing with your orthodontic problems.
Firstly, Invisalign is completely transparent. It is impossible to notice unless you tell the person that you are wearing the aligner. With ceramic or clear braces, they are designed in a way that the color blends with your teeth. While the color may not be noticeable, the bracket will stay there and most people who are close to you will be able to see it with relative ease.
Secondly, you can remove the Invisalign aligner while braces of any kind – including clear braces – are fixed in place. You will have to visit a dentist or orthodontist if you want to get your braces removed.
Another point of difference is the number of adjustments required. Braces do not need to be fixed very often but Invisalign has to be adjusted every couple of weeks. It works out to be more expensive than traditional braces.
There are many more differences, but they are common for all types of braces and Invisalign. The most important of these will be discussed below.
Differences Between Braces and Invisalign
While some of the common differences between clear braces and Invisalign have been mentioned before, there are some major differences between traditional braces and the aligner.
Often one of the biggest questions people have about this subject, the price difference exists although it depends on a variety of factors – the biggest one being the type of braces you’re comparing invisalign to.
We’ve gone through an in-depth explanation and overview on the braces vs invisalign cost difference but in short, Invisalign can go from $3,000 to $8,000 while braces range from $3,000 to $10,000. This might shock you but there’s a reason for it, be sure to read the cost article linked above to know all the details.
One big difference between metal braces and Invisalign is in the name itself. Metal braces are silver in color and held together by colorful rubber bands. While clear braces are relatively less noticeable, people around you will be able to figure out that you have braces.
This isn’t a problem with Invisalign as it is completely transparent. Once you put on the aligner, there is no way of noticing that you have an orthodontic appliance on your teeth. The maintenance, however, can be an issue but it will be discussed in more detail below.
Braces are relatively low maintenance. If you maintain good oral hygiene and go for check ups when the braces need to be tightened, there is not much else to do. You will not have to go through any elaborate care techniques with traditional braces.
Invisalign, on the other hand, requires more upkeep. You will have to remove the aligners before every meal so that the Invisalign aligner doesn’t get damaged. You cannot have it on when you are brushing and extra care needs to be taken so that the aligner doesn’t get dirty at any time.
Here, Invisalign has an upper hand. If you have braces, you will have to avoid any sticky food or things that are hard to bite into. These can get between the wires and prove to be a nightmare when you are trying to remove them.
However, if you have chosen Invisalign, no food is off limits. The reason behind this is that you will have to remove the aligner before you eat. The food that is being eaten will not come in contact with it.
Best Used For
Braces can be used to fix a number of different issues with the teeth. They are compatible with the more complex movements like fixing severe cases of misalignment. It is also possible to fix overbites or underbites with braces.
Invisalign is not as versatile when it comes to usage and can only help you with simpler horizontal movements. It cannot work for more complex orthodontic procedures.
Braces vs Invisalign: Pros and Cons
Benefits of Traditional Braces
Many people still prefer traditional braces as a solution to their orthodontic problems and there are many reasons for that choice.
Let’s take a look at the main reasons that make people go for the classic.
- It is much cheaper than Invisalign so you will be able to save a lot of money.
- Braces are relatively easier to maintain.
- There are some complex issues that cannot be fixed without braces. Invisalign isn’t an option here.
- You don’t have to make many changes to your lifestyle. Regular oral hygiene is enough to allow you to make the most of your braces.
- You will not have to visit your dentist or orthodontic specialist on a regular basis. You’ll just make the trip when the braces need to be tightened.
Disadvantages of Traditional Braces
There are some places where braces can be limiting. Some of the major drawbacks of opting for traditional braces are mentioned below.
- If you are person who is an active participant in contact sports, braces will not work for you. The reason behind this is that the insides of your mouth can get scratched easily if your lifestyle exposes you to the risk of getting hit, even unintentionally.
- There can be some staining on your teeth when the braces are finally removed.
Benefits of Invisalign
There are many benefits associated with opting for Invisalign. Some of these are mentioned below.
- The aligners are completely transparent so no one will be able to tell that you have anything on your teeth.
- Taking regular care of your aligners will mean that you are more mindful about your oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing practices can be adopted without worrying about ruining your braces.
- Eat whatever you want to if Invisalign is your preferred method of orthodontic correction. The reason behind this is that you will be taking off your aligner before eating or drinking so it won’t come in contact with any food or drinks that could have stained it.
Disadvantages of Invisalign
While Invisalign has a number of advantages, there are also some disadvantages associated with its use. Some of these are mentioned below.
- They will not work for patients who can’t wear them for at least 22 hours each day. You will need a good amount of discipline for Invisalign to work for you.
- It is not suitable for the treatment of some more complex problems like severe malocclusion or a badly aligned bite.
- They need to be adjusted every couple of weeks and can work out to be expensive.
Conclusion on Braces vs Invisalign
Finally, it is important to understand that you can’t just pick a clear winner in the long-lasting braces vs Invisalign debate. While one may be better suited for simple, horizontal adjustments for your teeth, the other can be helpful in the more complex situations.
The final decision can only be taken once you understand the problem and match the solution to your lifestyle, always with the guidance of a professional.