Crooked, crowded teeth can cause all kinds of problems from chewing difficulties to self-esteem issues. For this reason, correcting misaligned teeth is a practice that’s been in play for several centuries. But while traditional braces have been around since the 1700’s, Invisalign didn’t hit the tooth straightening scene until the year 2000. Despite this fact, many of our patients at Green Tree Dental are interested in Invisalign as a popular alternative to traditional braces, but the final decision about which tooth straightening technique is best requires some careful consideration of the pros and cons of each.
Invisalign Basics: Pros and Cons
Invisalign1 are plastic, BPA-free aligner trays that are worn over the teeth. The patient receives a series of aligner trays over time and each one is customized to slowly shift the teeth into a straighter position. They work under-cover so that patients can discreetly change the look of their smile without drawing a lot of attention to the process. Aligner trays are nearly invisible in the mouth and they cause a gentle movement of the teeth over the course of 6 to 18 months. Patients must come and visit us regularly at Green Tree Dental for check-ups and to get new trays using this system.
One of the perks of Invisalign is the fact that patients can remove the aligner trays to eat and drink, though this perk can also be a drawback if the patient forgets to put the trays back in. The trays must be worn for at least 22 hours per day or else the system doesn’t work. So patients who lack the discipline to wear the aligners for the required amount of time might see better results if they get traditional braces. Using invisible aligners, self-discipline is an important factor to consider, especially for parents who are trying to decide which system would be best for their teen.
The cost of Invisalign is higher overall than the cost of traditional braces, but many patients prefer to use this invisible alignment device rather than getting the more noticeable brackets used for traditional braces and to them, the extra cost is worth it. The only aesthetic challenge with Invisalign is that patients must remove their alignment trays before eating or drinking anything except water (otherwise the teeth can get stained). With invisible aligners, patients never have to worry about getting food caught in the brackets used by traditional braces for tooth-straightening because the alignment trays can simply be removed from the mouth.
Traditional Braces Basics: Pros and Cons
Many of our Green Tree Dental patients are familiar with the pros and cons of traditional braces because this system of aligning teeth has been around for so long. But few of our patients realize that recent technological advancements have made braces more pleasing to the eye. Today, patients can choose to get brackets that are the same color as their tooth enamel, which makes them much less noticeable. Other bracket colors are available too for patients who want to make a fashion statement with their mouth. Bracket options have made patients much more comfortable with the 2 year commitment required for braces to work their magic. With regular brushing, most patients feel very comfortable with the look and feel of their mouths with traditional braces.
Traditional braces allow dentists to make profound orthodontic changes in patients with major tooth-alignment issues. In some cases, traditional braces are the only viable option to achieve a positive final result. Complex issues that involve vertical movement, the turning of teeth, movement of the back teeth, or closing gaps between the teeth typically require the use of traditional braces in order to achieve good results. At Green Tree Dental, we evaluate each patient’s teeth thoroughly to determine which options are most likely to lead to excellent final results.
How to Decide Between Invisalign and Traditional Braces
Of course, there are a variety of complex situations where it just isn’t possible for patients to use Invisalign to straighten their teeth. When this is the case, the dentist will make a recommendation that traditional braces be used and then the patient can decide which type of bracket is most desirable for them (enamel colored, metal, or another color).
For patients who have a choice to make between aligners and braces, both are valid options in terms of tooth straightening. At Green Tree Dental, we advise our patients on which system would work best for them given the alignment situation in the patient’s mouth. Then, patients must consider their budget along with several other variables to make the decision. Of course, the goal is always to achieve the best results possible and for the patient to be comfortable with the process involved in tooth straightening. Because there are plenty of aesthetically pleasing options in traditional braces these days, we’ve found that we’re able to work with most patients to come up with a suitable balance in terms of cost and appearance.
For patients who have a choice between braces or invisible alignment trays, there are several important things to consider. First of all, patients using Invisalign need some self-discipline in order to wear the trays for the prescribed 22 hours or more per day. If patients don’t wear the tray, it won’t work! Patients who lack the necessary self-discipline, may not get the best results possible. For them, traditional braces might be a better option because braces are permanent. There’s no option to remove them from the mouth once they’ve been put in place.
Secondly, there’s a cost difference between braces and alignment trays. Patients on a tight budget won’t have to deliberate long about which option would be best for them. But a slightly higher cost may seem worth it for patients who fear that their self-confidence will be affected by traditional braces. It’s hard to put a price on things like self-esteem, so many candidates for Invisalign at Green Tree Dental go ahead and pay the extra cost to ensure that their alignment endeavors remain covert.
And finally, patients who engage in rough contact sports are often better candidates for Invisalign. Traditional braces can cut the mouth and cause injuries in patients who engage in full-contact athletic activities. So, unless the tooth alignment situation is complex, many dentists will advise patients who play rough contact sports to choose invisible aligners.
Traditional Braces vs. Invisalign: Final Results
Both braces and invisible aligners lead to excellent final results. Is one system better than the other? Not really. It doesn’t matter whether you use traditional braces or Invisalign to bring order to the inside of your mouth, in both cases, you’ll still have to wear a retainer at night after the straightening gear has been removed to keep your teeth straight permanently.
If you’re still on the fence about which is better, Invisalign or traditional braces, why not seek out some expert guidance from the family dentist2 at Green Tree Dental?