Braces vs. Clear Aligners - The Great Debate

The top question we often get from our new patients is which type of appliance is the best to use to correct their orthodontic problem – braces vs clear aligners?

An accurate diagnosis is the starting place, and that’s something that Dr. Hallman is very well trained in, after obtaining orthodontic records (x-rays, photos and models). Dr. Hallman will pinpoint the problem, and then craft a customized correction. Keep in mind not everyone has the option for either - in some cases, one will far outweigh the other in benefits to the patient.

One appliance is not inherently better than another. What is used for your/your child’s correction will be based on the goals of treatment, and the your/your child’s lifestyle needs. Obviously, you will need proper dental care (brushing, flossing, etc) no matter which option you choose. Here is a bit more information on each so you can make an educated decision.

Braces

Most orthodontic problems can be successfully treated using braces. Braces have been the traditional form of treatment used by orthodontists for decades, but we offer two different options for brackets – stainless steel and clear.

Visibility

While there are more inconspicuous options (clear brackets), other elements remain visible (ties, stainless steel brackets, wires). You can, however, choose the colors of your ties (the rubber bands that go on the bracket to secure the wire to it).

Removability

For a stable and functional result, braces remain affixed to the teeth throughout the course of treatment. On the bright side, you can’t lose them, unless you eat hard and sticky foods.

Comfort

There may be some initial discomfort when braces are placed or adjusted, and brackets and wires can temporarily irritate mouth tissue. Overall, the discomfort is short-lived and easily managed. Once patients become accustomed to their braces, they may even forget they have them on.

Hygiene

Patients will need to keep teeth, gums and braces free of plaque and food debris so bacteria can’t attack tooth enamel or cause inflamed gums. Food debris and plaque must be removed by frequent brushing and flossing.

Diet

Those with braces must steer clear of foods that are hard, sticky, crunchy and chewy to avoid breaking a bracket or popping a wire out of the bracket. Patients should opt for water instead of carbonated drinks, flavored waters, or sports drinks – these can contain acids and sugars, and both are bad for tooth enamel.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are plastic replicas of your teeth. Wearing them puts gentle pressure on the teeth, ever-so-slightly repositioning them.

Visibility

Aligners are clear, thin, plastic-like trays, making them virtually invisible and allowing an individual to inconspicuously achieve a straight smile. Tooth colored attachments are frequently placed on the teeth to help guide the teeth into place.  Aligners are designed to minimize the appearance of the appliance to better fit any lifestyle.

Removability

Many patients appreciate that aligners are removable. Take them out to eat, to brush and floss, or for short periods for work or social occasions. The key responsibility is wearing them as prescribed. That typically means a minimum of 22 hours a day and in the correct sequence.

CON: Because they are removable, aligners can be easily lost or damaged. They fall out of pockets and purses and may even get wrapped in a napkin and thrown away.

Comfort

While there may be some initial discomfort when a patient switches to a new set of aligners, the discomfort can be easily managed. Removing aligners because they are uncomfortable defeats their purpose. Aligners can’t work unless you wear them.

Hygiene

It is critical to avoid drinking soft drinks, flavored waters or sports drinks of any kind with aligners in. Liquids seep into aligners and if they contain acid, sugar, or both, it can rapidly lead to staining of the teeth and extensive decay. Teeth need to be spotless when aligners are placed in the mouth.

The Final Verdict

In the end, you should choose what will be best for you and/or your child. Often, it’s your/your child’s lifestyle that plays a huge part in what you choose. Whichever way you choose to go, we will be here to help guide you on your way to a healthy smile. :-)