Invisalign vs. Braces: Which is Right for You?
Orthodontics is the process of straightening teeth by applying pressure to them in order to move them to a desired location in the jaws. Orthodontics can be accomplished by a few different methods, the most popular of which are the traditional bracket/wire complex and clear plastic aligners.
Clear aligners are a newer way to straighten the teeth, but they have been in widespread use for 20 years. The gold standard of clear aligners is Invisalign®.
Invisalign® uses the latest technology in CAD/CAM design to create a series of customized aligners to execute the precise tooth movements prescribed by your dentist.
How do Aligners Work to Straighten Teeth?
Each aligner in your series of treatment exhibits a tooth position that is slightly different from the previous aligner. Remember those flipbooks from childhood, where each page was a drawing that was just slightly different from the previous page?
When you flipped it quickly, the drawings became animated. The best way to describe this slow, gradual movement is to imagine your aligners as a flipbook.
Picture this: you have laid out your entire series of aligners in a row, from start to finish. The alignment of the teeth in the first aligner will look like your teeth before you started straightening them. The final aligner will look perfectly straight, and all of the aligners in between will each show minor alterations in tooth position. When all of these minor alterations are added up, the result is a big difference in your smile!
How do Aligners Work Differently than Braces?
Aside from the obvious difference in the appearance of metal brackets and wires as compared to the almost-invisible plastic aligners, there are some other noteworthy differences.
Pushing vs. Pulling
Traditional orthodontics, from here on referred to as braces, work by a pulling motion. A bracket is glued to the surface of a tooth, and it contains a small slot for a wire, which is attached via a small elastic band. The wire moves the tooth to a position prescribed by the dentist by pulling on the bracket, and therefore the tooth as well.
Clear aligners are not connected to the teeth in any way, and their mechanism of action is a pushing motion. As a clear aligner is placed over the teeth, the teeth are pushed into the position dictated by the aligner.
Customized Tooth Movement for Each Individual Tooth
Another way aligners are different from braces is the ability to move only one tooth without affecting those around it. With braces, because all of the teeth are connected to the same wire, every movement affects all of the teeth.
With Invisalign®, your dentist is able to very specifically prescribe tooth movement to individual teeth. This also means we can selectively choose to NOT move a certain tooth.
The ability to apply no pressure to a tooth is very important in adult orthodontics because many patients have dental bridges or implants that should not receive any orthodontic pressure at all.
Quicker Correction of Crossbites
In a good bite, the upper teeth fit over the lower teeth like a lid on a box. In a crossbite, which is a type of malocclusion (bad bite), a lower tooth does not fit inside the upper teeth and instead is on the outside.
A crossbite can involve only one tooth, multiple teeth, or even all of the teeth. Correcting a crossbite is simpler and faster with Invisalign® than with traditional braces.
The aligners cover the entire biting surface of both the upper and lower teeth, which means that the teeth are not able to touch each other. Because the upper and lower teeth are separated by the aligners, a tooth in crossbite is able to move into its corrected position without being blocked by the tooth opposing it in the bite.
Braces do not have this advantage and require the use of bite blocks to correct a crossbite. Bite blocks allow only a few teeth to touch so chewing becomes difficult and inefficient during this phase of treatment.
How Are Aligners Easier for the Patient?
This is the most obvious reason that many patients choose Invisalign® over braces. Aligners are almost invisible and usually go unnoticed by acquaintances.
For some people, their anticipated embarrassment at having a metal mouth is greater than their desire for a beautiful, straightened smile. With Invisalign®, you can achieve your dream smile without hiding it for the months or years you are in treatment.
From a dentist’s perspective, one of the biggest advantages of Invisalign® is the patient’s ability to clean their teeth. Braces create an oral hygiene nightmare by providing countless hiding spots for plaque buildup and making brushing and flossing extremely challenging.
Because aligners are removable, you are able to clean your teeth in the same manner as someone without braces. This ability to properly clean your teeth reduces the risk of cavities and gum disease as compared to someone wearing braces.
Ability to Easily Pause Treatment
Whether you need to pause your orthodontic treatment for a one hour speech or a seven day honeymoon, Invisalign® allows you to take a break.
You cannot take your braces off for your holiday cocktail party, but you can take your aligners out. A break longer than a few hours does require you to wear your aligners overnight as a retainer so that the teeth do not regress.
As long as the teeth are not allowed to relapse, Invisalign® treatment can be paused for as long as a few months. We understand that life happens, and Invisalign® can help you roll with the punches.
Treats Simple to Complex Cases
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Are You a Candidate for Invisalign®?
There is only one way to find out! If you would like to straighten your crooked teeth or close those gaps you have always hated, call us today to schedule an orthodontic evaluation with our doctors. They will discuss your specific smile goals and how Invisalign® can help you meet them.