Generally speaking, both braces and teeth aligners work to straighten teeth by applying pressure to the individual teeth to reposition them. This happens gradually over the course of treatment. There are different types of braces and a variety of teeth aligners available. The options you have will depend on many individual factors, including the amount of correction that is required. An experienced dental professional, like the dental experts at Weninger Dentistry will be able to evaluate your individual case and make a recommendation for your most effective treatment plan.
How are Braces and Teeth Aligners Similar?
Besides both using gradual pressure to realign teeth, braces and teeth aligners do not have many similarities. In both cases, the treatment plans are customized to the individual, and ongoing adjustments need to be made throughout the course of treatment. In the case of braces, the orthodontist will need to adjust the wires every few weeks, as the teeth reposition. Teeth aligners are plastic trays, which are changed about every two weeks, as the tooth alignment changes. Beyond these similarities, braces and aligners are very different.
What is Different About Teeth Aligners and Braces?
Braces are fixed, but teeth aligners are removable.
You do not need to take braces out to eat, but you must remove teeth aligners and remember to put them back in. The downside of not removing the braces is that they are much more difficult to clean. With removable aligners, you just have to brush and floss as you normally would. Braces take more time to clean and they require special tools to remove all food debris, which is essential for keeping your mouth healthy.
Metal braces are noticeable, but clear aligners are almost invisible.
Metal braces and the colored bands used with them are very obvious to those who see you. Teeth aligners are made from clear plastic. For the most part these clear aligners are much harder to spot. Many patients say that because of the clear aligners, most of their acquaintances do not even realize they are having teeth straightening done.
Metal braces are more uncomfortable than plastic aligners.
Although patients who wear metal braces do eventually get used to wearing them, aligners are much more comfortable to wear and are easier to adjust to.
Braces require more visits and longer treatment plans than aligners.
Traditional braces need to be frequently adjusted by the orthodontist. Teeth aligner trays are sent home with you in advance, so that you can progress your treatment without needing to schedule as many visits.
Can I Just Wear a Retainer for Teeth Straightening?
Some people who are not familiar with orthodontics and teeth straightening may be confused about what a retainer does in the teeth straightening process. Although you can look up “retainer for teeth straightening” online and find many products you can easily purchase, these retainers do not actually straighten teeth. Most of the products you see online or in the pharmacy are designed for protection if someone has a problem with grinding their teeth.
Retainers that are part of teeth straightening treatment play a much different role. Retainers are custom made and required to help the teeth retain their newly straightened alignment. Removable retainers are usually worn full time for a prescribed period, and then part time on a long term basis. Fixed retainers are typically attached to the back of the teeth.