Braces Vs. Clear Aligners: Which One Is Best For You?

Braces Vs. Clear Aligners: Which One Is Best For You?

Have you been thinking about transforming your smile with orthodontics? There’s never been a better time to explore what treatment has to offer! Advancements in orthodontic technology have given patients more choices than ever before to improve their oral health.  A range of comfortable and effective treatment options, from traditional braces to clear aligners exist! Keep reading to learn the difference in Braces Vs. Invisalign and which is best for you!

Here at Parks, Schmit, and Fuller Orthodontics, we want every patient to feel informed about each step in the treatment process. This begins with an understanding of how orthodontic appliances work to correct various issues. Let’s look at the pros and cons of braces and clear aligners to give you a better idea of which option could be the best fit for your smile! 

The basics of both treatments

Traditional braces have been around in some form or another for hundreds of years, so they have a well-established history of creating beautifully aligned smiles. They’re composed of metal or ceramic brackets that we attach to the surface of the teeth, then connect with a wire and several tiny elastics. Over time, these components work together to gently move the teeth into the desired positions. Braces can correct many orthodontic issues, but they are especially beneficial for more severe or complex cases. 

Clear aligners are removable, so they are not fixed to the teeth like braces. Instead of brackets and wires, these systems use a series of aligners to shift the teeth. The customized trays are made of a unique thermoplastic material and come with small tooth-colored attachments to fit comfortably over the teeth. There’s a bit of extra flexibility with clear aligners since they can be removed for short periods of time. 

Everything you need to know about braces

Braces may not have the convenience of clear aligners, but there’s still a lot to love about them! They’re incredibly efficient at correcting misalignments and can sometimes work faster than other treatment methods. This can sometimes lead to a shorter overall time in braces. 

Speaking of treatment times, there’s no “one size fits all” answer for how long a patient will need to wear braces. There are several factors involved, and every case is unique. However, the average patient will spend anywhere from 12-30 months in braces. With braces, you’ll often be able to see some signs of improvement in a relatively short period of time. This can give you a boost as you get settled into your orthodontic journey!

A good dental hygiene routine is a must for any orthodontic patient, but especially those in braces. This can be tricky, though, since food debris and bacteria can get trapped in the spaces between the brackets and wires. This increases the risk for tooth decay and cavities if it’s not properly removed. Fortunately, there are many tools designed to make oral hygiene easier for those wearing braces. Oral irrigators use a targeted stream of water to help rinse hard-to-reach places while ortho-picks simplify the flossing process. 

Food restrictions can be one of the biggest learning curves with braces. To keep the appliance safe, patients need to avoid eating anything crunchy or chewy as this can damage the brackets and wires. This includes some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, gum, nuts, and several kinds of candy and sweets. It can be frustrating to have to give up some of your favorite foods, but this won’t last forever! All the hard work is worth it once the braces come off to reveal a beautiful new smile.

Braces patients can expect to see us every 4-8 weeks for regular follow-up visits. During these appointments, one of our doctors will check that everything is moving according to the treatment plan. They’ll also make any adjustments necessary and change the bands attached to the brackets. The wire may be replaced at this time as well. These visits are an essential part of your treatment plan and help ensure you get the best results in the least amount of time, so you won’t want to miss them if you can help it. 

Everyone wants their treatment to be as fast and comfortable as possible! Fortunately, we can help make that happen with indirect bonding. This process allows us to install braces more quickly and accurately, which translates to less time in the orthodontic chair when you have your brackets placed.

Everything you need to know about clear aligners

Some patients required tooth movements that are handled best with braces.  Others may be a candidate for both systems.  Rest assured that the orthodontists at Parks, Schmit & Fuller will guide you in making the best decision in obtaining the best outcome.

Patient compliance is perhaps the biggest factor in how successful aligner treatment is. The system can only work if the recommended guidelines are followed exactly! Aligners need to be worn 20-22 hours per day throughout treatment and switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. This allows them to keep up with the movements the teeth are making. Failure to follow these guidelines can affect the results and may also add time to the orthodontic process. 

Oral hygiene is a simple affair with clear aligners since they’re designed to be removed before eating or brushing your teeth. That means there are no food restrictions, either! You’re free to eat everything you normally would, as long as you’re careful to brush after every meal and floss each night before bed.

As with braces, there’s no concrete answer for how long a patient will need to wear aligners, but the average tends to be 12-24 months or so. 

Patients in clear aligners will typically have follow-up visits every 6-8 weeks. In between these appointments, they’re responsible for changing their aligners at the recommended interval between these appointments. Skipping scheduled visits or failing to switch out aligners on time can quickly undo any progress that’s been made.

Find the right treatment for you with Parks, Schmit, and Fuller Orthodontics

Braces and clear aligners are both excellent solutions for straightening smiles, but what works for one patient may not be a good fit for another. That’s why it’s important to work with an expert team like ours! When you schedule an evaluation with us, one of our experienced orthodontists will examine your mouth and let you know which treatment would be the best fit for your smile. 

With four convenient locations across Cedar Rapids and Marion, you’re never very far from taking the first step towards a confident smile! To learn more about whether braces or clear aligners could work for you, get in touch today and schedule your FREE consultation