If orthodontic treatment is just over the horizon for you or your child, you likely have a lot of questions and concerns. What treatments are available? Which would be most effective for your particular case? Which one is the most affordable? What is the difference popular treatments like traditional metal braces and the newer Invisalign system?
Here at Shaw Orthodontics, we believe that educated and informed patients are an important part of the treatment process because it allows you to play a more active role. Since our two most popular orthodontic treatments are traditional metal braces and Invisalign, we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of each in order to give you all the information you need to help you decide which one could be the best fit for you, your smile, and your lifestyle!
The basics of braces treatment
Braces and Invisalign are both designed to straighten teeth over time while improving your smile as well as your overall oral health. Traditional braces have been around for a very long time, and tend to have a well-established history of treatment. The Invisalign system is a newer treatment option, and has only really seen widespread use in the last fifteen years or so, but it continues to increase in popularity all the time.
Different methods, same results
Traditional braces are metal brackets that have been attached to your teeth, then tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands. Because modern orthodontics have greatly improved both the appearance and the comfort level of braces over the years, they are a little less obvious and a lot more comfortable than they’ve ever been before. Many practices also offer brackets that more closely match your enamel color for a more subtle look, or for those who prefer making their mouth into a fashion statement, there are different colored brackets and bands available.
Invisalign, on the other hand, is designed to be nearly invisible. X-rays, pictures, and a digital impression are taken to create a precise 3-D image of your teeth which is then used to create a custom-made aligner.The clear aligner trays are made of a comfortable, smooth plastic and worn over the teeth. These are switched out every week for a new tray as your teeth gradually move into more desirable positions.
How braces and Invisalign compare
The most obvious difference between these two options is that braces are not removable. Traditionally made of metal, braces may emphasize function over style, but they are incredibly efficient at fixing complex tooth issues, and they often work faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than Invisalign does, shortening the overall treatment time.
While this treatment time will vary from patient to patient, the average with braces tends to be anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. But with metal braces, you’ll often begin to see some signs of improvement in just a short period of time. Seeing even a slight improvement in your smile can give your self-confidence a boost, and encourage you to stay the course!
Maintenance with metal braces can be a little bit more involved than it is with Invisalign. The brackets and wires can be tricky, but a good dental hygiene is a must for oral health. The good news is there are a number of accessories available designed to make cleaning easier, like water piks to help rinse those hard to reach places, or orthopicks for braces-specific flossing. There are also quite a few foods you’ll need to avoid while in braces, namely anything too hard or sticky. Apples, popcorn, gum, and other chewy favorites will need to go on the back burner until you finish up your treatment.
Follow up visits for traditional braces are scheduled for about every 4-8 weeks, and during these appointments, your orthodontist will change the bands that are attached to the brackets, and the wire may be replaced as well. These adjustment appointments are generally in-and-out, taking around half an hour to an hour. There may be some slight residual soreness after each adjustment, but it should be temporary. Don’t skip these visits! They’re a very important part of your treatment plan, and will help to ensure you get the very best results in the least amount of time.
The biggest benefits of Invisalign also explain their popularity – the aligners are almost completely invisible, and they’re removable. The smooth plastic is easy on the mouth, and won’t irritate the gums or cheeks the way some brackets and wires might. Though not quite the workhouse that braces are, Invisalign is still an efficient method for gently moving teeth, particularly in cases that aren’t too complicated.
Since Invisalign works in a different and less invasive way than braces to straighten teeth, it’s hard to say how long a patient will need to wear them. The average tends to be somewhere between 6 and 18 months, but this can vary widely from case to case. This average is also calculated based on the patient following the recommended guidelines of wearing the aligners at least 20-22 hours every single day, throughout treatment. Any deviation from this can add time to the overall process, as the entire system will only work if you stick to the prescribed program.
Invisalign aligners are extremely easy to maintain. They are meant to be removed before eating or drinking anything other than water, so there’s no worry about food getting stuck in between your brackets and wires. You also remove them before brushing and flossing, giving you easier access to your teeth and making dental hygiene a much simpler process.
Because of their removability, there are no food restrictions with Invisalign! You will need to remove your aligners before all meals in order to avoid staining, and you’ll also need to clean and rinse them out with warm water whenever you perform your daily dental hygiene routine.
Invisalign wearers will be expected to attend follow-up visits every 8-12 weeks or so, making fewer overall visits throughout treatment. You’ll also need to keep up with changing your aligner every week. This is an important part of the straightening process. The trays are custom designed to fit each patient’s unique dental needs, and are changed frequently in order to keep up with the shifting of the teeth as they straighten out. If you regularly skip appointments or miss changing your aligners when you’re scheduled to, it can quickly undo any progress you’ve made.
Let Shaw Orthodontics help you decide
It can be a close race when comparing traditional braces and Invisalign! Adults and teens often find the discrete look of Invisalign incredibly appealing, and its removability is a bonus. However, the success of the system depends almost entirely on the patient. If you don’t wear the aligners as directed, they just won’t work, compared to regular braces that stay in place.
It’s also worth noting that for complex dental issues, Invisalign may not even be an option. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced practice like Shaw Orthodontics! Dr. Shaw believes that every patient deserves to have a smile designed for their individual case, and takes into account their specific tooth shape, the movement of their lips, and the shape of their face. This individualized approach is what we call “smile design” and it’s what sets us apart from other orthodontists. With years of experience working with both braces and Invisalign, we encourage our patients to be engaged, informed, and an active partner in any treatment plan we design.
Straightening your teeth isn’t just about improving your smile – it has an impact on your overall oral health. If you’re in the Rockwall or surrounding area and are interested in what braces or Invisalign could offer you, get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation at our conveniently located office. Shaw Orthodontics is dedicated to helping you find the most effective solution for your smile!