Braces Or Clear Aligners: Which One Is Right For Me?

Have you spent years feeling uncomfortable with the way your teeth look? Have you found yourself wishing there was a way to improve the way your mouth functions? If so, you’re in luck! 

Modern technology means we can offer patients a range of effective treatment options, from metal braces to removable clear aligners. In fact, one of the first questions we hear from patients is, “which treatment is right for me?” But every smile is unique, and what works for one patient might not be a good fit for another. That’s why the team here at Orthodontic Associates creates personalized treatment plans for every case! 

This customized approach guarantees exceptional results in the shortest amount of time possible. It’s still a good idea to know the basics about these popular smile solutions, though, in order to make the best and most informed decision for your care. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what braces and clear aligners both have to offer, and how we can use them to transform your smile.

Braces: more noticeable, extremely effective 

Traditional braces have been used for decades to successfully treat a range of orthodontic issues, from simple to complex. Although they are more visible than clear aligners, modern brackets are much smaller and no longer wrap around the entire tooth. We also use thinner archwires to move the teeth with additional comfort and speed. If you like to stand out from the crowd, you can add a pop of personality with fun-colored elastic bands! Are you looking for something more subtle? We also offer Incognito™ lingual braces, which fit behind the teeth for a truly invisible smile solution.

Braces: fixed in place

There are two types of orthodontic appliances, fixed and removable. Braces are a fixed appliance, meaning the brackets are attached directly to the surface of the teeth. They won’t be removed until treatment is complete, although Dr. Miller will adjust the wire and change the elastic bands at regular intervals throughout the orthodontic process. Having a fixed appliance like braces can be a great option for anyone worried about keeping up with and caring for removable aligners.

Braces: oral hygiene 

Orthodontic patients are more prone to dental issues, particularly those who wear braces. The brackets, wires, and bands create a series of nooks and crannies that can collect food particles and plaque. If these aren’t removed with regular brushing and flossing, it can cause cavities and tooth decay. This can sometimes lead to delays in treatment while dental issues are corrected, so it’s very important to maintain an excellent oral hygiene routine throughout your orthodontic journey. 

Your brushing and flossing techniques will require some adjusting if you have braces. It can take some time to learn how to navigate around the brackets and wires, but with patience and practice, you’ll get the hang of it in no time! We recommend brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste, and be sure to floss every night before bed to remove stubborn food particles and plaque. 

You can add an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash to eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath and gum disease, as well. There are also many dental tools designed for use with braces, such as orthopicks and water flossers. These make oral hygiene much simpler for orthodontic patients! 

Clear aligners: discreet, adaptable, and efficient

Although clear aligners haven’t been around as long as traditional braces, they’re one of the most popular treatment options available. It’s not hard to see why—instead of brackets and wires, these systems use a series of removable clear aligners to gently straighten the teeth and produce a better bite. These are customized to slip snugly over the patient’s teeth, providing a comfortable but effective fit. Because the aligners are almost invisible when placed on the teeth, they can be an excellent option for anyone looking for a subtle way to achieve a more confident smile. 

Clear aligners: removable

Unlike braces, clear aligners are designed to be removed occasionally, like before a patient eats or brushes their teeth. They can also be taken out for short periods of time, such as weddings or proms and there are no food restrictions like there are with braces—you can eat all your favorite foods like you normally would, as long as you brush and floss when you’re done! The removable nature of aligners means patients are responsible for wearing them for the recommended 20-22 hours each day throughout the treatment process. They also need to switch each aligner out for the next in the system every week or two in order to keep up with the movements the teeth are making. Many patients love the flexibility clear aligners offer, but if you aren’t sure you can stick to the guidelines, a fixed appliance like braces may be a better fit for you. 

Clear aligners: oral hygiene

Clear aligners are extremely easy to maintain. They’re designed to be removed before eating or drinking anything other than water and should also be taken out before brushing and flossing. This makes dental hygiene a much simpler process than it is with braces! There is some upkeep involved, however. Our mouths are full of bacteria that can easily transfer to aligners. Any time an aligner is removed, it should be rinsed immediately to help prevent a dried-out film of bacteria from building up, keeping them clean and extending the lifespan of each aligner. Lukewarm water is best for rinsing, as the aligner material is subject to expansion and contraction when exposed to extreme temperatures. Hot water or very cold water can warp them. 

Follow-up visits

Patients can expect to see us every 6-8 weeks or so for regular follow-up visits, depending on your treatment plan. During these appointments, Dr. Miller will check that the teeth are moving in a healthy way and that things are progressing as expected. If you’re wearing braces, he’ll also make any necessary adjustments and change the bands attached to the brackets. The wire may be replaced at this time as well. These visits are an essential part of your treatment plan! They help ensure you get the best results in the least amount of time, so you won’t want to miss them if you can help it.

Braces Or Clear Aligners: Which One Is Right For Me?

Find the right smile solution for you at Orthodontic Associates

When you consider the many benefits that come with both braces and clear aligners, it’s easy to see that each option can be an excellent solution for improving oral health! When you schedule your consultation with us for only $25, Dr. Miller will examine your mouth and help you understand the best treatment for your specific needs. This will give you a beautifully aligned smile with long-lasting results you’ll love! To learn more about how braces or clear aligners could work for you, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with our Bradenton, New Port Richey, or St. Petersburg location.