braces vs. aligners

What are the Differences Between Braces and Clear Aligners?

Austin, TX – Orthodontic treatment is a common rite of passage for adolescents and teens. Today, more adults than ever are also turning to orthodontics to get the smiles they’ve always dreamed of. No matter your age, orthodontic treatment can improve your bite and straighten your smile. But how do you know which treatment is right for you?

There are more options than ever for straightening your teeth and correcting your bite. From lingual braces to clear aligners and everything in between, how can you be sure which is the best for you?

Today, Dr. Silvana Gonzalez of Pure Smiles Orthodontics will explain the main differences between the two most commonly used treatments – standard metal braces and clear aligners. 

First, let’s take a look at metal braces. 

Metal braces are probably what you think of when you think of orthodontic treatment. They’ve been the most widely used treatment option throughout the years for a few reasons. They are effective, efficient, and budget-friendly. Today’s metal braces are sleeker and more comfortable and no longer make patients feel like metal-mouths.

Metal braces consist of metal brackets that are adhered to the teeth using a special bonding agent. Then, a metal wire is threaded through each bracket and held into place with a tiny elastic. These elastics come in a variety of colors so you can personalize your treatment. 

The wire places a gentle and constant pressure on your teeth to guide your teeth to their new locations. You will see your orthodontist at regular intervals to have the wire tightened or replaced. 

During your treatment, you will need to take a few precautions, such as avoiding eating certain foods. We recommend that you avoid eating any foods that are too hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky. This means avoiding things like crusty breads, pizza crust, popcorn, chips, taffy, caramels, and nuts. These foods can pull at your wires and brackets. 

We also recommend that you always wear a mouthguard if you play sports, especially any sport where a blow to the mouth could occur. This will protect not only your braces from damage, but your mouth from injury. 

You’ll also need to pay close attention when brushing and flossing as the brackets and wires create nooks and crannies where food can get trapped. We recommend brushing and flossing after every meal.

Clear aligners have steadily gained in popularity since they were introduced in the late 1990s. Patients love them because they are made of a BPA free plastic that is virtually invisible, so they make your orthodontic treatment very discreet. 

Aligners are custom created for each individual patient and are designed to fit snugly over your teeth. You are given a series of aligners to use throughout your treatment. Each set of aligners is designed to achieve a certain tooth movement and should be worn for 22 hours a day for 10-14 days before moving to the next set. 

Clear aligners are removable, which makes eating, drinking, and caring for your teeth easy while in treatment. Simply pop the aligners out and enjoy all your favorite foods and beverages. Then, before placing them back in your mouth, brush and floss. This will ensure you aren’t trapping any food debris between the teeth and the aligner. 

It is important to note that because clear aligners are removable, it is up to the patient to wear them as directed. Forgetting to wear them or changing the aligner set order can alter your treatment result. 

When clear aligners were first introduced, they were quite a bit more expensive than traditional braces and many insurances didn’t cover them. That is no longer the case. Clear aligner treatment is covered by most major insurances and many orthodontists offer it for a price very similar to traditional braces.

So, how do you know which is right for you?

The best way to determine the best course of action for your treatment is to schedule a consultation with an orthodontist. A trained orthodontist like Dr. Gonzalez will have the skill and knowledge to diagnose your issue and help you determine which treatment is best for your lifestyle and budget. 

Excellent results can be achieved using both standard braces and clear aligner therapy. If you’re ready to learn more about both options, call Dr. Gonzalez today at Pure Smiles Orthodontics, 512-518-0217.