Why do some kids and adults need or use metal braces while others use clear aligners? What would be the difference?
Both braces and clear aligners (Invisalign® is a common brand name) can move teeth. However, each system has its strengths and limitations. Every orthodontic case has different requirements and different movements. While in some situations we can use either system with equal effect, there are many specific cases in which we have to choose which is going to be the most efficient and effective.
Difference in control
There are some things clear aligners can do far better than braces, and some things that braces can do which are difficult or impossible to do with aligners.
When you put braces on, a lot of things happen all at once. You're basically starting off from being out of control, right from day one. When you put braces on and put the wires in, some good things happen, and some bad things happen. And the dance you do in orthodontics is being able to understand what the bad things are and mitigate them so that you only get good things. But the movements are all very complex.
With aligners, you have the ability to program very precisely what happens when. When you do the aligner set-up, you don't have to move everything all at once. You can move teeth one at a time, and different teeth at different times in order to get the right effect at the end of the day. Sometimes, that's a big advantage when using aligners — choosing which movements happen at which time.
At the same time, aligners don’t grab onto teeth well enough to do certain types of tooth movements. When teeth need to be brought down to meet the rest of the teeth or when needing to align the roots of teeth, aligners are far less effective than braces.
Difference in Patient Responsibility
As we saw above, both systems have their strong suits, so both can be very effective in orthodontic treatment when chosen wisely. Yet, there is also a major difference in the effort the patient needs to make in having successful treatment.
Patient cooperation is always an important element in orthodontic treatment. Without it, no orthodontist can get a good result regardless of the system they use.
Traditional braces have the advantage that they’re always on and always working. They require a bit more diligence with oral hygiene and also more care in avoiding foods and habits that might break them off. They can be a bit more cumbersome with different sports and musical instruments, but for the last 100 years, people have coped reasonably well with braces in general.
Clear aligners are more convenient as they can be removed for eating, sports, and other activities, and toothbrushing is much simpler. However, they are very unforgiving. You don’t get days off. In certain situations, if you don’t follow directions precisely, your teeth can get worse. And there is no “catching up.” Once someone has not worn them well and is off track, it is pretty much impossible to go back. You have to start over.
Our Antosz Vincelli Orthodontics superheroes are highly qualified to make the right choice.
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