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Clear Aligners

Clear aligners vs. braces: What's the best choice?

June 20, 2022
It's a question as old as aligners themselves, and one for which there's no simple answer. Read on to learn the pros and cons of braces and clear aligners for straightening teeth.

Society’s obsession with perfect teeth is arguably understandable. People with misaligned teeth are not only insecure about their looks but may also face several health issues. That’s where the orthodontic marvel—teeth straightening—comes into play.

Traditional braces have been the most sought-after teeth straightening option for decades. They’re the oldest and most reliable treatment for misaligned teeth. But as time advanced, there were new inventions in the industry. Clear aligners are one such invention that has gained immense popularity in recent years, mainly due to their characteristic of being virtually invisible to human eyes. 

Although clear aligners are becoming increasingly popular among young people, whether they can replace traditional braces is a valid question dental professionals should take time to contemplate. 

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What problems do clear aligners solve?

You might believe modern aligners can solve all your dental problems, but that’s just a half-truth. Although they’re comfortable while treating your issues, there’s only so much they can do. For example, clear aligners are great for treating overcrowded, crooked, and gapped teeth. But they fail to be effective when teeth need to be raised to match the height of other teeth. 

Besides that, if you want to correct rotated teeth, clear aligners won’t work. Large gaps and midline teeth fixtures need the solid support of traditional braces. Last, dental bridges may prevent someone from wearing clear aligners. 

What’s more comfortable and convenient? 

There’s no denying that clear aligners take the points in this category. Of course, both processes involve the pain of teeth shifting and constant pressure exerted. But if we compare levels of comfort, clear aligners have the upper hand because braces have sharp edges that can cut the inner lip and tongue. Moreover, they exert more pressure than aligners. 

Other than this, convenience is subjective. For instance, some people prefer braces because they don’t have to remove and store them when they’re eating. For others, eating without the barrier of braces is more comfortable. 

Keep in mind that when you wear braces, you can’t eat sticky and hard foods. But with clear aligners, you can eat and drink whatever you want since you must remove them to eat anyway. And yes, you need to brush after every meal because you run the risk of staining your aligners. 

What about care and cleaning?

Whether you have braces or clear aligners, caring for and maintaining hygiene is an absolute necessity! Cleaning braces involves brushing and flossing your teeth. But cleaning clear aligners involves an additional step besides your regular oral hygiene—you must clean the aligner trays. So, after every meal, you’ll have to brush and floss while also cleaning the trays. 

Keep in mind that you can’t clean aligners just any old way. You must wash them with warm water, a special clear aligner cleaning solution, and a brush. You need to make sure the water is not too hot because that will affect the shape of your aligner. Also, you’ve got to clean every nook and corner of the trays because leftover food particles can cause bacteria buildup. 

So, ultimately, braces take the point here. 

What does post-treatment look like? 

Both braces and clear aligners need regular post-treatment follow-up sessions with your orthodontist. This is once a month for braces and it’s once every five to six weeks for clear aligners. Also, there’s more after-care for braces. You’ll have to wear retainers after completing dental treatment. This is necessary to ensure that your teeth stay in the same position post-treatment. 

What is the cost of both? 

In most cases, clear aligners and braces run about the same price. But it’s not the same every time. When calculating the entire cost of treatment, including follow-up appointments and post-care, clear aligners fall on the higher side of the cost scale. This is because their price depends on the trays you’ll require and the frequency with which you’ll need to change them. In cases where someone must undergo frequent tray changes, clear aligners will prove to be more expensive than traditional braces. 

The bottom line 

It all comes down to your requirements and preference. Both orthodontic treatments have their pros and cons. Back to the main question—which one suits your needs? If you’re looking for a treatment that solves overlapping, gapping, crowding, crooked, and other common teeth problems, clear aligners are available to do it with comfort. But if you have complex dental problems, an orthodontist will not recommend clear aligners because they don’t exert the same force where needed. Talk to an orthodontist to figure out what works best for you.