If you have uneven, gapped or crooked teeth and want to do something about it, you have a couple options. Traditionally, fixed, metal braces have been used to straighten and align teeth. Newer technology has introduced Invisalign; clear, removable aligners which can achieve the same effect as braces. Even still, there are advantages and disadvantages of both. This article will help you decide which best suits your needs and lifestyle.
Traditional Fixed Braces
Traditional, fixed metal braces have come a long way over the years. Gone are the clunky braces that sparked the “metal mouth” stigma that followed many people as children and teenagers. Today’s fixed braces are smaller, more compact and are low-profile which reduces discomfort and improves the cosmetic aspect.
Fixed braces come in a variety of colors, which is an appealing feature for children and teens. Because fixed braces are permanent throughout the entire the process, they are very effective at achieving the desired results. Another distinct advantage of fixed braces is that they typically cost less than newer technologies. Depending on the severity of your teeth, traditional braces may be worn for 1 year or longer and are adjusted about every 6 weeks by your dentist.
There are a few disadvantages of fixed braces to consider as well. Because the brackets are permanently adhered to the teeth throughout the process, some people may experience minor damage or discoloration to the underlying tooth enamel. Patients with braces must also change their eating habits by not drinking too many fizzy beverages and avoiding eating anything hard or chewy (including gum). One disadvantage that is unavoidable with fixed braces is the discomfort patients experience when the braces are first put on and after each adjustment.
Invisalign is a set of clear, removable aligners that slowly align your teeth in stages. At your first appointment, your dentist will use a computer to “map” your teeth. A set of aligners are then custom made for the duration of your treatment. You will upgrade to a new aligner about every 2 weeks, and depending on the severity of your teeth, they may be used for 1 year or longer. However, studies have shown that for most people, Invisalign works quicker than traditional braces.
The most obvious advantage of the invisible aligners is the cosmetic aspect. Because the aligners are clear, they are virtually unnoticeable. Another distinct advantage is that the aligners are removable. They should be removed for cleaning, eating and drinking (anything other than water). Patients also typically experience less discomfort because the process is more gradual.
The most distinct disadvantage of Invisalign is that because they are removable, they are not working to align the teeth continually. The effectiveness of the aligners is largely dependent on a patient’s habits.
If you would like to straighten and align your teeth, talk to your dentist about the differences between fixed braces and Invisalign and decide which is right for you.