Traditional braces and Invisalign are two popular options for straightening teeth and achieving that perfect smile. Both are designed to improve your oral health and enhance the aesthetics of your smile, but they operate in different ways. Understanding the differences between these two options can help you find an orthodontic treatment that best suits your lifestyle, comfort, and dental needs.
Traditional braces are an orthodontic treatment that corrects misaligned teeth and bite issues. The primary components of conventional braces include metal brackets, wires, and tiny rubber bands called ligatures.
How Do Traditional Braces Work?
The process begins with an orthodontist applying a dental adhesive to attach these metal brackets to the front surface of each tooth. A metal wire is threaded through these brackets, and small rubber bands hold the wire in place. The wire exerts pressure on the teeth, which works with the brackets to align them into their proper positions.
Periodic visits to the orthodontist are essential for adjustments. During these appointments, the orthodontist may tighten the wire to increase the pressure exerted on the teeth. This tightening gradually moves the teeth into correct positions over months or years, depending on the case’s complexity.
Pros of Traditional Braces
Traditional braces are often considered the go-to solution for complex dental cases, giving the dentist more control over each tooth’s movement. This makes them effective at treating severe overcrowding, misalignment, and complicated bite issues.
Additionally, traditional braces are generally more budget-friendly compared to alternatives like Invisalign. They also eliminate the element of user responsibility; since they are permanently affixed to the teeth for the duration of the treatment, there’s no possibility of forgetting to wear them, ensuring consistent pressure and potentially quicker results.
Cons of Traditional Braces
On the downside, traditional braces are often considered less aesthetically pleasing due to their noticeable metal components. This visibility can make some individuals self-conscious about their appearance, particularly adults and teenagers who are more sensitive to social perceptions. The metal wires and brackets can also cause discomfort by irritating the inner cheeks and gums, requiring a period of adjustment to get used to the sensation.
Having traditional braces also requires you to make some dietary changes; you’ll need to avoid hard, sticky, and chewy foods that could damage the wires and brackets. These dietary restrictions can be inconvenient and limit the types of food you can enjoy while undergoing treatment.
Invisalign is a modern approach to straightening teeth, offering an alternative to traditional braces. This orthodontic treatment uses a series of custom-made, clear aligners crafted from a medical-grade, flexible plastic material known as thermoplastic.
How Does Invisalign Work?
The Invisalign treatment begins with a consultation where a dental professional takes a 3D scan of your teeth. This data is then used to map out a treatment plan detailing the expected movement of your teeth over time. A series of aligners is then manufactured off-site according to this plan.
You’ll wear each set of aligners for about one to two weeks before moving on to the next in the series. The aligners put targeted pressure on specific teeth, just like traditional braces, but without wires and brackets.
Because the aligners are removable, you must take them out while eating, brushing, or flossing, but it’s crucial to wear them for at least 20-22 hours per day for the treatment to be effective. Regular check-ups with your dental professional every 6 to 8 weeks allow for adjustments to the treatment plan if necessary.
Pros of Invisalign
Invisalign aligners are more aesthetically pleasing than traditional braces, as the transparent material makes them virtually invisible. This reduces social self-consciousness about undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Many people also find them more comfortable than traditional braces because there are no wires or brackets to irritate the gums and inner cheeks. Invisalign’s removability offers an added level of convenience and flexibility. You can take the aligners out for meals, oral hygiene, or special occasions, allowing you more freedom in your daily activities and dietary choices than traditional braces.
Cons of Invisalign
However, Invisalign has its limitations, particularly when treating severe dental issues such as significant overcrowding, complex bite problems, and certain misalignments, such as tooth rotation. In these cases, traditional braces are usually more effective.
Invisalign is generally more expensive than traditional braces, making it less accessible for those on a tighter budget.
The effectiveness of Invisalign also relies heavily on how disciplined the wearer is. Because the aligners are removable, there’s a responsibility on the user to wear them for the prescribed number of hours per day. Not wearing your aligners correctly can prolong the treatment time and compromise the final results.
Which is Right for You?
Choosing between Invisalign and traditional braces depends on various factors, such as the complexity of your dental issues, lifestyle, and budget. Traditional braces may be more practical if you have more complex dental needs.
However, if you’re seeking a more discreet and comfortable solution and your dental issues are relatively straightforward, Invisalign could be the better choice.
Taking the Next Step: How to Choose Between Invisalign and Traditional Braces
Both Invisalign and traditional braces result in a healthier, more beautiful smile. Your dentist can provide a comprehensive evaluation to help you decide which option is best.
If you’re in the Chicago area and are considering braces or Invisalign, contact Smile On Dental Salon & Sleep Apnea Center at our Deerfield (224) 282-8939 or Lakeview (773) 525-5545 locations for a consultation. Our experienced dental team can guide you through the process and help you make the best choice for your dental health.