Braces and other orthodontic appliances are what orthodontists use to straighten your teeth. While straight teeth do help with self-confidence, aesthetics are not the only reason for using braces. They aim to help improve jaw alignment, redistribute bite pressure, and prevent long-term health issues with crowded teeth, like gum and bone loss. Straight teeth are also much easier to floss and brush, keeping them healthier in the long run.
Three main types of orthodontic methods are used to help straighten and realign teeth, depending on the severity of the problem. Braces, clear braces, and Invisalign all have different advantages, depending on what your needs are. To help determine which option is best for you, let’s look at how each type works and its benefits.
What are Braces?
Braces are small metal appliances connected to individual teeth. They fix overcrowding, align the teeth, and reposition the jaw.
How do Braces Work?
Dentists apply Individual brackets in a precise position on each tooth with glue to secure the metal. Next, a wire connects the brackets called an archwire. The wire creates a constant, gentle pressure against the teeth, encouraging them to shift their position in the jaw. Each visit, the wires are adjusted, and other techniques promote the teeth into an ideal position.
What are the Advantages?
Today’s braces are much less noticeable than the types used in the past. Forty to fifty years ago, they were far larger and more uncomfortable. The brackets and wires are efficient and durable, holding up to the rigors of childhood. These braces are the most affordable option, and children and teens are more likely to choose them. To make up for the fact that they are still visible to a degree, colored elastics can be added for personalization.
What are Clear Braces?
Clear braces are similar to traditional ones in how they work, without the noticeable metallic color. Instead of using ceramic or plastic, these braces have a white or clear coloring. As a result, these braces blend in with the natural tooth color and are less noticeable. In addition, clear braces’ elastic components are see-through or white to help blend in.
How do Clear Braces Work?
These braces work the same way as traditional braces while substituting metal with other materials. While regular braces can stay durable in smaller sizes, clear braces are not metal, so they are a little bulkier to increase strength and durability.
What are the Advantages?
These braces are colored to blend in a little better with the teeth for those that feel self-conscious. In addition, the less noticeable design is a strong draw for older patients. Clear Braces are ideal for teens and adults, especially since they are less durable than their metal counterparts. Both metal and clear braces are better suited for performing moves that are complex or require more force. Plastic aligners, such as Invisalign, are designed for more simple tooth alignments.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a brand name that has, over time, become the common term for clear aligners. The Invisalign brand has been around since the late 90s, but orthodontists have been using clear aligners for much longer than that. With the advent of the Invisalign brand, clear aligners have become more efficient. In addition, other reputable companies have invested much research into the product. Companies like 3M-Clarity, Spark-Ormco, and Suresmile put a lot of time and money into the development. As a result, the plastic aligners, the software, and AI to create the aligners are being made more available in offices instead of national labs. This should bring down waste and allow for a faster turnaround to the patient.
How does Invisalign Work?
A special software simulates how the teeth should move in a series of steps. The steps are then transformed into 3D models used to create custom trays for your teeth. The trays almost fit, putting enough pressure on the teeth to change them into a slightly different position. After wearing the aligner for a short period of time, you move to the next tray to shift the teeth even further. Each tray is a new step, a new position for your teeth until they have reached an ideal position.
To maximize results, a trained orthodontist manipulates the software to produce efficient and predictable movements. While AI does help, it is the orthodontist’s experience that makes all the difference during the planning and treatment process. Unlike most general dentists who know how to use a computer to let the AI do all the work for them. When treatment lacks an experienced human touch, opportunities to enhance efficiency and results are missed.
Clear aligners differ widely from traditional braces. They do not use the pressure of the archwire to move the teeth but the pressure of clear plastic retainers. In addition, there is shaped glue on the teeth called attachments, but they are smaller and far less noticeable. It is important to note that some dentists, who are not orthodontists, use clear aligners without attachments, but those produce less than ideal results.
What are the Advantages?
These aligners are far less noticeable and do not have to be worn during meals. As a result, brushing and flossing are less of a hassle. Also, patients do not have to endure brackets rubbing their cheeks raw or the pokey wires that sometimes occur with braces. Clear aligners are ideal for minor corrections or problems. They can also be used for more complex treatments, with a longer timeline and higher fees, due to lab costs, as the tradeoff. To be effective, they must be worn for twenty-one or more hours a day. Clear aligners are ideal for older teen and adult patients who are capable of being careful not to lose them.
An Important Note About Braces and Clear Aligners
Please contact your orthodontist if you are considering braces or aligners. They have the most up-to-date knowledge and the most experience with the best technology and methods for correcting your teeth. They know what works and doesn’t and can help you make the best choice.
A dentist is legally allowed to provide services such as Invisalign, yet their experience level is minimal compared to an orthodontist. Dentists have in-depth knowledge about how to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. However, they spend much less time learning the complexity of orthodontics, moving teeth, and getting great results.
Fort Collins Orthodontics
At Fort Collins Orthodontics, we are here to serve the needs of our patients with a passion. We utilize the diverse talents of our team members to create beautiful, lasting smiles. We are just as concerned about the aesthetic of your smile as we are about the long-term health of your mouth and jaw. A good smile must be built on a foundation of healthy jaw joints, healthy bones and gums, and good airways. So if you’re looking for orthodontists who care about your dental health and smile, you’re in the right place. To ask questions or book an appointment, contact us today!