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Differences between Braces and Clear Aligners

Braces and Aligners example

At Wurm Orthodontics, we not only care about the outcome of your treatment, but also the journey along the way. We offer multiple treatment options to help you reach your goals, including braces and clear aligners. Today, we’ll discuss a little more about the differences between the two and help you with your decision. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!


Braces vs Invisalign


Everyone who walks through our doors is familiar with braces. For many years, the words orthodontics and braces were essentially interchangeable. Braces were not only our go-to, but in many cases our only option for straightening teeth. Not anymore! Clear aligners have had their “glow-up” and are no longer just a novelty, but instead have become a regular part of the orthodontist’s toolbelt for achieving the same beautiful smile everyone’s looking for.  As Invisalign has continued to grow more and more in popularity, we often have patients and parents ask which is right for them or their child. The answer is often both! But there are some big differences between them, and it’s important to know these when making your decision.


Braces

First, let’s start with braces. These are all of us parents remember having when we were younger because it was probably the only option at that time. Braces are still by far our most popular option with kids, and the reason is simple. Parents know that they are getting the results they want! During the course of treatment, braces are fixed or “glued” onto the teeth with changes or adjustments being done by the orthodontist and staff at the appointments. Other than some good brushing and rubber bands if needed, the rest of the work is in the hands of the orthodontist and team. Braces give you a beautiful result with little to no thought about it.


Clear aligners

Clear aligners, or Invisalign, have become a very popular treatment choice, especially among adults. This is because oftentimes they are looking for the most esthetic option. It’s not only adults, though. More kids are starting to ask for Invisalign after seeing a friend with it or maybe hearing about it on social media. Invisalign was once a very limited treatment method just for certain minor cases, but they’ve rapidly improved and now nearly any situation that can be fixed with braces can be fixed with aligners as well. There are also some great benefits that come with the ability to remove the aligners, including being able to eat, brush, and floss our teeth essentially the same as before. So why wouldn’t everyone chose aligners!? The key to aligners is they must worn for 20 hours or more per day. The ability to take them out is a great benefit but also a great responsibility. Some people prefer not to have to worry about this in and out routine, especially for lengthier treatment durations. Aligners require more work on the patient’s end, but come with some excellent benefits as well.


Let’s break it down a little further. Here's a chart with some of the items we mentioned as well as a few additional differences.

 

Braces

Invisalign

Esthetics

Highly visible metal brackets and wires

Clear and essentially invisible, especially in pictures and at a distance

Brushing/Flossing

Requires additional time and techniques

The same as before

Compliance requirements

None except if/when rubber bands are needed

Daily in/out for eating and brushing

Appointment frequency

Typically every 6 weeks

An average of every 8-12wks

“Urgent care” visits

Occasional broken bracket/poking wire

Less common and not as urgent, such as replacing an attachment

Decalcification/Permanent staining

Can occur with very poor brushing/high-sugar diet

Very rare

Retainers after treatment

No difference


Sports

Mouthguard recommended for contact sports to help prevent lip/cheek injury

Aligners act like mouthguard to protect teeth

Musical instruments/singing

An initial adjustment period of a couple weeks, often not an issue unless a high professional level

An initial adjustment period of a couple weeks, offers the ability to remove for performances although often not necessary

Treatment length

Typically 15-24 months

Similar to braces. May be faster for more limited cases. Can take longer if not wearing the recommended amount.

Results

Excellent and predictable with good brushing

Often identical but can have minor discrepancies, especially if compliance is not ideal

So which option is the best? Other than a few unique situations, both options can treat the same cases. So the answer is typically whichever works best for your lifestyle! Braces are the “set it and forget it” option with predictable and beautiful results. Invisalign is the esthetic and convenient option, giving you the straight teeth you’ve always wanted with less changes to your everyday life. For those with a busy lifestyle filled with different sports, meetings, dinners, & activities that might cause them to forget or those not wanting to have to worry about keeping track, braces may be a better option. For those looking for something less noticeable and willing to put in a little more work for the added benefits, aligners might be the right choice for you! In the end, we want to give you the option that works best for you to get that amazing smile you’re looking for.


Still not sure? Schedule your free consultation today to discuss these options more with Dr. Wurm and learn how orthodontics can boost your confidence, oral health, and overall quality of life!

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