Braces vs. clear aligners: which is right for you?

Have you been considering orthodontics to straighten your smile and improve your oral health? If so, you may be wondering which treatment options are available to you. There’s actually never been a better time to be an orthodontic patient! Advancements in recent years have led to a number of comfortable and effective solutions, including updated braces to clear aligners. These are the most popular treatments we offer here at Orthodontics Exclusively, so let’s take a closer look at how they work and why they could be a good fit for your smile!  

Two different approaches for one perfect smile

Traditional braces have a well-established history of successfully treating many orthodontic issues. We attach metal or ceramic brackets to the surface of the teeth, then connect them with an archwire and tiny rubber bands. Over time, these components work together to move the teeth into the desired positions gently.

Clear aligners, like clear aligners, aren’t affixed to the surface of the teeth like braces. Instead of brackets and wires, these systems use a series of aligners to shift the teeth. The customized trays are made of a special thermoplastic material and come with small tooth-colored attachments that allow them to fit comfortably over the teeth.  

Everything you need to know about braces

Traditional braces have been around for a long time and are very efficient at correcting oral issues that range from mild to complex. They can sometimes align the teeth faster than clear aligners, which may lead to a slightly shorter treatment time. Speaking of treatment times, there’s no “one size fits all” for how long a patient will need to be in braces since this is decided on a case-by-case basis. However, the average tends to be anywhere from 12-36 months.

A good dental hygiene routine is essential for all orthodontic patients, but this can be a challenge if you wear braces, especially initially. The brackets and wires create a system of nooks and crannies that can trap food debris and bacteria, increasing the risk for tooth decay and cavities. Fortunately, several accessories are available to make cleaning your teeth a more straightforward process! Oral irrigators use a targeted stream of water to help rinse those hard-to-reach places while ortho-picks simplify flossing with braces.

Food restrictions can be one of the biggest learning curves with braces. To keep your braces safe, you’ll need to avoid anything crunchy or chewy until your treatment is complete. This includes some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, gum, nuts, and several different types of candy and sweets. Just remember that this is only temporary! All your hard work and dedication will be worth it once your braces come off and we reveal your beautiful new smile. 

Braces patients can expect regular follow-up visits with us, usually every 6-8 weeks or so. During these appointments, one of our orthodontists will make any necessary adjustments and replace the bands attached to the brackets. They may choose to replace the wire at this time as well. These visits are an important part of every treatment plan, so you don’t want to miss them! They help us give you the best results in the least amount of time possible. 

The basics of clear aligner systems

Although the end results are the same with these treatment options, clear aligners provide us with a less invasive way to straighten teeth. Depending on the case’s complexity, our practice has clear aligners and special in-house aligners available. These aligners are almost invisible and completely removable, offering patients an extra measure of freedom and flexibility they love! 

The smooth plastic they’re made of is easier on the mouth than braces and won’t irritate your gums or cheeks the way brackets and wires can. It’s important to note that patient compliance is perhaps the biggest factor in how successful treatment is with clear aligners. They need to be worn 20-22 hours per day and switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. Failure to follow these guidelines can add time to the treatment process and may affect the final results.  

Your dental hygiene routine will be as easy as it ever was with clear aligners since they’re designed to be removed before eating or brushing your teeth. That means there are no food restrictions, either! You’re free to eat everything you normally would with clear aligner treatment, just be careful to brush after every meal and floss each night before bed.

As with braces, there’s no concrete answer for how long a patient will need to wear clear aligners. The average tends to be somewhere between 12-24 months with follow-up visits every 4-8 weeks or so. You’ll be responsible for changing your aligners out at the recommended interval in between appointments. Skipping your scheduled visits can quickly undo any progress you’ve made, so make sure you stick to the treatment plan!

The right fit for your smile is waiting for you at Orthodontics Exclusively

Braces and clear aligners can both be excellent solutions for straightening smiles, but what works for one patient may not be a good fit for another. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced orthodontic team like ours!

When you schedule an evaluation with us, Dr. Revels, Dr. Restuccia, or Dr. Shannon will examine your mouth and provide you with a diagnosis. They’ll also walk you through which treatment would best fit your lifestyle and goals. This will give you a beautifully aligned smile you’ll be able to enjoy for many years to come. 

To learn more about whether braces or clear aligners could work for you, get in touch today and schedule your FREE exam with our Norman or South Oklahoma office!