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Aligners vs Braces: Pros & Cons

Explore the pros and cons of braces and aligners through their effectiveness, cost, aesthetics, and more. Your confident smile is our priority.

Last updated on

December 20, 2023

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Aligners vs Braces: Pros & Cons

At Flossy, we never underestimate the power of a bright and genuine smile. A set of straight, well-aligned teeth can light up a room and exude an aura of confidence. If you're looking for ways to get your teeth to sit a little straighter, you may have come across aligners and braces.

What sets aligners and braces apart, and which might be right for you? Let’s chew on the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision for yourself and your smile. 

What Are Braces?

When we think of traditional orthodontic treatment, we think of braces. Braces are dental devices that use brackets connected by wires to encourage the teeth to move. They're incredibly effective and can correct even the most complicated teeth and jaw issues.

Your dentist or orthodontist will attach small brackets to your teeth, which are then linked with a wire. Once this setup is in place, your orthodontist or dentist will adjust the wire, applying pressure on the specific teeth that need to be moved. 

When sustained over time, this pressure guides your teeth gradually into their desired positions. Think of it as gently and persistently coaxing your teeth into alignment, like a GPS guiding you to a destination.

Braces are often the go-to solution for moderate to severe dental alignment issues such as overcrowding, substantial overbites, underbites, or crossbites. They're also particularly effective in treating malocclusions, rotated teeth, and large gaps between teeth. 

Braces have stood the test of time and continue to be a reliable and effective method for straightening teeth. While the journey with braces can be lengthy and sometimes uncomfortable, the results can be life-changing. Patients often find their confidence boosted and their oral health significantly improved after treatment.

What Are Aligners?

If braces are the well-known veterans of orthodontic treatment, aligners are the new kids on the block. Aligners are a modern, less noticeable solution to traditional braces, hence their alternative name: “clear” or “invisible” aligners.

Aligners are made from a clear, durable plastic material designed to fit comfortably over your teeth. Unlike the fixed brackets and wires of braces, aligners consist of a series of custom-made, removable trays. Each tray is precision-engineered to apply pressure to specific teeth that need to be moved.

The process of straightening teeth with aligners involves swapping out these trays every couple of weeks, with each new tray bringing your teeth closer to their final, ideal positions. All this happens under the watchful guidance of your dentist or orthodontist, ensuring the health and safety of your teeth throughout their journey.

Aligners are generally recommended for mild to moderate teeth alignment issues. They're especially popular among adults and teenagers who desire a less conspicuous method for straightening teeth. 

You get the orthodontic benefits minus the noticeable hardware through aligners, a big selling point for those keen on maintaining their natural look while undergoing treatment.

What Are the Benefits of Braces?

When discussing orthodontic treatment options, weighing the advantages and disadvantages is essential. So, let's begin with the bright side: the benefits of braces.

Effective in Treating Complex Dental Issues

One of the significant advantages of braces is their effectiveness in treating a wide range of dental problems. Braces can handle even the most complex orthodontic issues, from overcrowding and significant overbites to underbites, crossbites, and malocclusions.

The robust and versatile design of braces allows for a high degree of control over tooth movement, making them suitable for complicated dental realignments.

High Degree of Precision

Braces provide an unrivaled level of precision. The ability to adjust each bracket and wire individually allows your orthodontist to precisely dictate the movement of each tooth, ensuring the most accurate results possible. This precision often leads to better outcomes, especially for more severe dental issues.

Tried and True

Braces have been around for a long time and are a tried and true method for straightening teeth. They've been used for decades, and the techniques and technologies behind them are well-established and reliable. This history gives many patients and dental professionals confidence in their ability to deliver great results.

Less Active Involvement 

Unlike removable aligners, braces offer a fixed solution that remains in place throughout your treatment, requiring less of your active involvement. You won't have to constantly remember to put them back in after eating or brushing. This can also increase their success rate.

With braces, they stay securely in place, diligently working on straightening your teeth, so you can focus on other aspects of your day-to-day routine.

What Are the Disadvantages of Braces?

While braces are an incredibly popular and effective form of dental appliance, there are some disadvantages to consider.

Aesthetics

One of the most commonly mentioned concerns with braces is their noticeable appearance. While some individuals embrace this as a unique part of their journey, others may prefer a more discreet option. It's important to explore alternatives that can effectively align your teeth while catering to your desire for a confident, natural-looking smile.

Difficulty Cleaning

Maintaining good oral hygiene can be more challenging with braces. Food particles can easily get trapped in the wires and brackets, increasing the risk of plaque build-up and tooth decay. You need to take special care to clean around each bracket and wire, which can be time-consuming.

Discomfort and Irritation

Braces can cause discomfort, especially after adjustments when the wires are tightened. The brackets may also cause irritation to the inside of your lips and cheeks, especially in the first few weeks of treatment. However, most people adjust to the sensation over time, and the discomfort decreases.

Dietary Restrictions

When wearing braces, certain foods must be avoided to prevent damage to the brackets and wires. Hard, chewy, or sticky foods can dislodge or damage the braces, which can interrupt the treatment process. 

These dietary restrictions may feel limiting for those who love snacking on popcorn, apples, or chewing gum.

Longer Treatment Time

Braces often require a longer treatment time compared to aligners, especially for complex cases. The average treatment time with braces is typically around two years, but it can extend longer depending on the severity of the alignment issue. This longer commitment can be a downside for some individuals.

What Are the Benefits of Aligners?

While lesser-known than braces, there are many reasons you might be drawn to aligners. Let’s sink our teeth into the advantages of this more modern dental appliance.

Aesthetically Seamless

Arguably the most significant advantage of aligners is their aesthetic appeal. Since they're made from clear plastic, they're nearly invisible and hard to notice, making them an ideal choice for those who want to straighten their teeth without drawing too much attention. 

This subtle approach to orthodontic treatment is particularly popular among adults who prefer to keep their treatment discreet.

Comfortable and Convenient

Aligners are custom-made to fit snugly over your teeth, which often makes them more comfortable to wear than traditional braces. There are no brackets or wires that might cause irritation to your cheeks or gums. 

Moreover, aligners are removable, which means you can take them out while eating, drinking, brushing, or flossing. This provides a level of convenience that braces simply can't match, allowing you to easily maintain your regular oral hygiene routine.

Fewer Dental Visits

With aligners, you'll typically have fewer trips to the dentist or orthodontist. Unlike braces, which require regular visits for tightening and adjustments, aligners can be switched at home as your treatment progresses. 

You'll only need to visit your dental professional periodically to check on your progress. This can be a significant time-saver, particularly for those with busy schedules.

Predictable Treatment

Aligners use 3D technology to plan your entire treatment journey before it begins. This allows you to see a digital representation of what your teeth should look like at each stage of treatment and the expected final result. It gives you a clearer vision of your treatment goals; many patients find this predictability motivating.

What Are the Disadvantages of Aligners?

Of course, aligners aren’t free of their own set of disadvantages. Let's review some potential downsides to consider as you weigh these two options.

Not Suitable for Severe Issues

While aligners are quite effective for mild to moderate orthodontic issues, they may not be suitable for severe or complex cases. Braces have the upper hand when it comes to treating serious malocclusions, rotations, and other complicated alignment issues. 

If your dental problems are more extensive, your dentist or orthodontist might recommend braces as a more effective treatment option.

Requires Discipline

Since aligners are removable, the success of the treatment largely depends on the wearer's discipline. Aligners must be worn for at least 20 to 22 hours daily to be effective. If you frequently forget to put your aligners back in after eating or cleaning your teeth or lose them, it could delay your treatment progress.

Potential for Loss or Damage

Being removable also means aligners can be lost or damaged. Whether you misplace them while eating or accidentally throw them away, losing your aligners can interrupt your treatment and may incur additional costs for replacements.

Minor Discomfort

While aligners are generally more comfortable than braces, they can still cause minor discomfort, especially when switching to a new set of aligners. The pressure exerted by a new tray can cause temporary soreness or sensitivity. However, this usually subsides after a couple of days as your teeth adjust to the new aligner.

How Does the Cost of Braces and Aligners Compare?

Determining the cost of braces or aligners depends on various factors, such as the complexity of your case, the duration of the treatment, and your geographical location.

Braces are often considered more expensive due to the extensive adjustments and regular orthodontic visits required. On average, the cost of braces can range from $3,000 to $7,000. However, keep in mind that the costs might escalate further in some complex cases where treatment extends beyond two years or requires special appliances.

Aligners, on the other hand, generally cost less than traditional braces. The average cost can vary from $2,000 to $5,000. The lower cost is partly due to fewer dentist visits and the absence of complex hardware. However, should you lose an aligner and require a replacement, this could incur an additional cost.

While comparing costs, it's essential to consider the value of the result. Discuss payment options, insurance coverage, and possible financing with your dental professional before making a decision. No matter which route you go with, Flossy can help keep costs affordable. 

Enjoy Enhanced Dental Health With Flossy

Embarking on your journey towards improved dental health is a deeply personal decision unique to your needs. Whether you're considering the effectiveness and precision of braces or are drawn to the discretion and flexibility of aligners, each option comes with strengths.

Perhaps you're grappling with a complex dental issue that calls for the robust and precise control braces offer. You may be searching for a solution that blends into your lifestyle seamlessly, like the nearly invisible and removable aligners. Time commitments, discipline, and cost considerations are all vital factors you might be weighing in your decision.

At Flossy, we understand that making this choice isn't always easy, and we're here to support you every step of the way. Our mission is to make the path to improved dental health as accessible and uncomplicated as possible.

Through our platform, you can conveniently search for a dentist and book an appointment on our website or through the Flossy app. Our network of trusted dental professionals is ready to provide the guidance you need to make an informed decision.

No insurance? No problem. We aim to lift the financial stress often associated with dental care with our pay-as-you-go service, and we can help save you up to 50% on dental care, all without insurance. Our pricing is transparent and immediate, with no hidden costs or surprises. All you need is your smartphone to pay for your visit and instantly enjoy the savings.

Remember, whatever decision you make, be it braces or aligners, is a significant step towards a healthier, more confident smile. 

Sources:

Impact of orthodontic treatment on self-esteem and quality of life of adult patients requiring oral rehabilitation | PMC

An orthodontic tooth brushing technique to enhance oral hygiene in patients wearing fixed orthodontic appliances: A randomized controlled trial | Wiley Library

Adult Braces: Types And Cost Explained | Forbes Health

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