If you’ve recently learned that your smile could benefit from orthodontic treatment, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. There’s a lot of information to take in, and you’re likely to have a a number of questions and concerns: what is the cause of the problem? What will orthodontic treatment do to correct it? Which treatments are recommended for your particular issues? Which would be most effective? Is one more affordable than another? What is the difference between popular orthodontic treatments like traditional braces and the Invisalign clear aligner system?
With orthodontic treatment on the horizon, it’s important to be educated and and informed about the process. This allows you to play a more active role in your own treatment, something we encourage here at Thacker Orthodontics! While we offer a variety of treatments, traditional braces and Invisalign are two of our most popular options. Both are designed to straighten your teeth over time, improving your smile and oral health, but we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each below. Along with input from Dr. Jim and Dr. MaryEvan, this will give you all the information you need to determine which of these options could be the best fit for you and your smile.
Different approaches that produce the same results
Traditional braces have been around for a very long time, and have a well-established history of successful treatment. They are usually made up of metal or ceramic brackets that are attached to your teeth, and are then tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands or elastics. Through regular adjustments with Dr. Jim and Dr. MaryEvan, these components work together to apply gentle pressure that will gradually move the teeth into the desired positions. Far from the bulky braces of the past, modern braces are sleeker and more comfortable than ever before. They also have some room for customization, with multi-colored brackets and bands available for patients who want to showcase their personality, and clear or tooth-colored brackets for those who prefer a more discreet look.
The Invisalign system doesn’t rely on a fixed orthodontic appliance like braces. Instead, it uses a series of clear, removable aligners made of a comfortable plastic material along with small, tooth-colored attachments on your teeth. These trays are custom-made for your mouth so that they fit snugly over your teeth, and are designed to be nearly invisible. Aligners will generally be switched out weekly or every other week for the next in the series as your teeth gently move into new and improved positions over time.
The basics of traditional braces
The most obvious difference between braces and Invisalign is that braces cannot be removed until treatment is complete. These orthodontic workhouses are incredibly efficient at correcting oral issues ranging from mild to complex. They can also be faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than clear aligners like Invisalign. This can shorten the overall treatment time, which averages anywhere from 1 to 3 years, but will vary on a case-by-case basis. Because of this, you’ll often be able to see some signs of improvement in a relatively short period of time if you’re in traditional braces. It may not seem like much, but sometimes seeing even a slight improvement in your smile can give you a boost of encouragement on your orthodontic journey!
Maintenance with metal braces may be a bit of a challenge, particularly in the beginning. A good dental hygiene routine is especially important during orthodontic treatment, but getting the brackets and wires completely clean can be tricky. Food particles can get stuck in all the nooks and crannies, giving bad bacteria a place to flourish. The good news is, there are a number of accessories available that can make cleaning much easier. Oral irrigators can help rinse those hard to reach places, and orthopicks are great for braces-specific flossing.
Another learning curve that comes with braces are the food restrictions, which can take some getting used to. You’ll need to put anything too crunchy or too chewy will need to go on the back burner until you finish up your treatment. This includes things like some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, gum, nuts, and several types of candy and sweets.
With braces, we will schedule you for follow-up visits at regular intervals, usually about every 4-10 weeks. During these adjustment appointments, Dr. Jim or Dr. MaryEvan will change the bands that are attached to the brackets. The wire may be replaced at this time as well. These appointments are generally just a short visit, so you can get back to work, home, or school as quickly as possible. There may be some slight soreness after each adjustment, but it should only be temporary. Don’t skip your follow-up visits! They are a crucial part of your treatment plan, and help ensure you get the best results in the least amount of time.
The flexibility and freedom of Invisalign
In terms of orthodontics, Invisalign is a relatively new method of treatment, but it’s incredibly popular with both patients and orthodontists. The convenient aligners are an efficient method for gently moving the teeth, particularly in cases that aren’t too complicated or severe. The clear, smooth plastic is also easy on your mouth, and doesn’t tend to irritate the gums or cheeks the way brackets and wires can.
Even though the results are the same, Invisalign uses a different, less invasive way to straighten the teeth. The trays are changed out every week or two for the next in the series, to keep the teeth moving in the direction we want them to. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how long a patient will need to wear the aligners, though the average tends to be somewhere between 1-2 years. This can vary widely from case to case, with user compliance a big factor in the success of the treatment. The Invisalign system can only work if the recommended guidelines are followed exactly. If you do not wear the aligners the required 20-22 hours per day, this can impede the results and also add time to the orthodontic process.
The Invisalign aligners are extremely easy to maintain. They’re designed to be removed before eating or drinking anything other than water, so there’s no issue with food getting stuck in between any brackets and wires. You also take them out before brushing and flossing, so dental hygiene a much simpler process. An added bonus of this removability is no food restrictions! You can eat everything you normally would with Invisalign, as long as you are careful to brush after every meal and floss nightly.
Invisalign patients will typically have follow-up visits every 6-8 weeks or so. You’ll also need to keep up with changing your aligner at the interval recommended. Changing your aligners frequently allows us to keep up with your shifting teeth as they straighten out. If you make a habit of skipping or rescheduling appointments, or miss changing your aligners when you’re scheduled to, it can quickly undo any progress you’ve made.
Make the right choice for your smile with Thacker Orthodontics
It’s a pretty close race when you consider all the pros and cons of braces and Invisalign! It’s worth noting that for some complex dental issues, Invisalign may not be an option, although in many cases, it will be. This is one reason why it is so important to work with a team like ours! Dr. Jim and Dr. MaryEvan have years of experience in creating customized treatment plans for each patient based on their individual case, specific tooth shape, the movement of their lips, and the shape of their face. This results in a beautifully aligned smile that’s just right for your face!
Are you in Cincinnati, Hillsboro, or the surrounding areas, and want to know more about how braces or Invisalign can change your smile for the better? Get in touch with one of our conveniently located offices and let us schedule a free consultation help you find the most effective solution to your orthodontic issues. There’s never been a better time than today to take the first step towards a smile you want to share with the world!