It is not unusual to approach potential orthodontic treatment with an entire laundry list of questions. Deciding to straighten your smile or correct any alignment issues you have is an important decision, and not one to be taken lightly. At Brodsky Orthodontics, our goal is to create a customized treatment plan for your particular case, and explore all the treatment options available to you so you will be able to decide on the one that will work best for you and your smile. When you schedule a complimentary consultation with us, you will have the chance to voice any concerns and ask our doctors anything you are unsure about, including questions like:
- How will orthodontic treatment change my smile?
- Which treatments will I be a good candidate for?
- What treatment option is the most affordable?
- Which would be the most effective treatment for my specific smile?
- What is the difference between popular treatments like metal braces and a clear aligner system like Invisalign?
We are going to focus on that last question in this blog. Traditional metal braces and Invisalign aligners are our two most popular orthodontic treatments, so we are going to take a look at the pros and cons of each below. This will give you the information you need to help you decide which one would be the best fit for you, your smile, and your lifestyle!
The basics of orthodontic treatment
Both traditional braces and Invisalign are designed to align the teeth and jaws over a period of time, improving your smile and increasing your overall oral health. Traditional braces have been around for a long time, and they have a well-established history of successful treatment. The Invisalign system is a newer treatment option, with widespread use of the aligners only happening in the last fifteen years or so. It is proved itself to be a very popular option, though, with more and more orthodontists recommending it as time goes on. Braces and Invisalign are both excellent options for patients seeking a beautifully aligned smile, but there are some obvious differences between them.
Traditional braces will typically consist of metal brackets being attached to your teeth, then held together by wires and tiny rubber bands. In recent years, orthodontics have used modern techniques to improve both the appearance and the overall comfort level of braces. Not only are they sleeker and more comfortable than ever before, we are also able to offer brackets that more closely match your enamel color for a more subtle solution. If you have got personality to spare, we have a variety of different colored brackets and bands to turn your smile into a fashion statement!
The Invisalign aligners are designed to be nearly invisible. X-rays, pictures, and impressions are taken to create a precise 3D image of your teeth. We then use that image to generate aligners that are custom-made for your mouth. These clear aligner trays are made of a sturdy but smooth plastic and are worn over the teeth daily. As your teeth begin to gradually move, the aligners will be switched out for the next in the set every week.
All about braces
The most obvious difference between the treatment options is their removability, or the lack thereof when it comes to braces. Traditional metal braces may put a little more emphasis on function over style, but they are extremely efficient at fixing complex tooth issues.
Because every case is different, treatment times with braces will always vary from patient to patient, but the average with braces tends to be anywhere from about 18 months to 3 years. Metal braces will often produce some slightly noticeable movement of the misaligned teeth within a relatively short period of time. Even a small improvement in your smile can boost your self-confidence and get you excited about the process!
Maintenance with metal braces can have a little bit of a learning curve. It can be tricky learning to navigate the brackets and wires, particularly with flossing, but it is an important part of treatment to maintain an excellent oral hygiene routine. The good news is there are a variety of accessories available to make cleaning easier, like water piks to help rinse hard to reach places, or orthopicks for braces-specific flossing. You will also have to avoid quite a few foods while you are in braces. Anything that is crunchy or sticky is off the menu, so favorites like raw apples and carrots, popcorn, gum, and any other chewy favorites will have to wait until you have finished up your treatment.
If you are wearing traditional braces, you can expect follow up visits about every 6-8 weeks throughout the course of treatment. During these appointments, the bands attached to the brackets will be changed, and the wire may be replaced as well. These adjustment appointments are generally pretty quick, usually lasting no more than an hour. There may be some slight residual soreness after each adjustment, but it should only be temporary. You should do your best to always keep your scheduled appointments! These visits are a crucial part of your treatment plan, and will help to ensure you get only the best results in the least amount of time possible.
Info on Invisalign
The biggest benefits of Invisalign are the same reason it is such a popular alternative option to traditional braces – the aligners are nearly invisible, and they are removable. The smooth plastic they are made of also tends to be more comfortable than braces, and the aligners do not irritate the gums or cheeks the way some brackets and wires can. Though they may not be quite the workhouse that braces are, the Invisalign system is an efficient method for gently moving teeth into better positions, particularly in cases that are not too complicated.
Invisalign works in a different and less invasive way than braces, but since each patient will react to any treatment in their own way, it is still hard to estimate a treatment time. The average tends to be somewhere between 9 and 18 months, although of course it could take more or less time. Treatment time will also depend on patient compliance. If you are using Invisalign aligners to straighten your smile, it is important to follow the recommended guidelines of wearing the aligners at least 20-22 hours every single day, throughout the course of treatment. Failure to do so can lead to a longer treatment time and less optimal results.
Because Invisalign aligners are removable, they are extremely easy to maintain. You take them out before eating or drinking anything other than water, so there is no problem with food getting stuck in between your brackets and wires, a leading cause of bacteria and decay. You also remove them before you brush and floss making dental hygiene a quicker and less tedious process. Removability also means no food restrictions! You will need to clean and rinse them out with warm water whenever you brush and floss, but you can eat all the same things you are used to while undergoing treatment.
Like braces patients, Invisalign wearers will be expected to attend follow-up visits every 10-12 weeks or so, and your aligner will be changed out every week. Aligners are custom designed to fit each patient’s unique needs, and frequent changes are necessary in order to keep up with the shifting of the teeth as they begin moving. Skipping appointments or missing scheduled aligner changes can quickly undo any progress you have made in treatment.
Let Brodsky Orthodontics help you choose between braces and Invisalign
It is a close race when comparing traditional braces and Invisalign! The clear look Invisalign offers is incredibly appealing, as is the removability factor. It is important to note, though, that the success of the Invisalign system depends almost entirely on the patient. If you do not wear the aligners as directed, they just will not work. Traditional braces are obviously not removable, so they will work to straighten your teeth no matter what!
By working with our experienced orthodontists, you are guaranteed only the best in orthodontic care. We have worked with braces for 40 years (over 25,000 patients) and Invisalign for 18 years (over 2,000 patients), and will only recommend the treatment we feel would have the biggest benefit for your smile. Straightening your teeth is not just about improving your smile, it can also have an impact on your overall oral health, and we are committed to creating a customized treatment that addresses both.
If you are in the Lakewood, Long Beach, or surrounding area and need help deciding if braces or Invisalign will work for you, get in touch with us today to schedule your complimentary consultation at our office. Brodsky Orthodontics is dedicated to finding the most effective solution to perfect your smile, keep your mouth healthy and looking good for a lifetime!