Were you aware that there are different types of braces out there that might work for you, depending on your needs? Here, our Okotoks orthodontist compares traditional braces, clear braces and clear aligners.
Clear Braces vs. Traditional Braces vs. Clear Aligners
Once you begin to look into options for straightening your teeth, you'll likely come across two stark choices: traditional braces and clear aligners. That said, clear braces may be a compelling third option, and a middle ground.
In this post, we'll compare traditional braces, clear aligners, and clear braces in an effort to help you choose between the three. There are reasons why you may choose any of these, and you and your orthodontist can plan your next steps based on your goals and circumstances.
People tend to be most familiar with this option when discussing braces. While they may typically be the most visible when worn, braces have evolved to become small in size thanks to decades of advancements in orthodontic technology.
For people who need to resolve complex orthodontic issues, braces are the go-to option for straightening teeth. You can choose to play them up with colours, or choose tooth-coloured elastic bands.
Invisalign clear aligners are removable orthodontic appliances designed to straighten your teeth - similar to braces, only without the wires or metal. These clear aligners are made with a transparent plastic material, making them look nearly 'invisible' to the casual observer when worn.
Since you can remove your clear aligners, you'll be able to keep eating all the foods you love as you won't have any dietary requirements - unlike with braces, which require you to watch which foods you eat and avoid things that could get stuck in your orthodontic appliances such as popcorn. Braces are fixed and not removable, so you'll need to avoid sticky or crunchy foods, including certain vegetables, hard fruits, snacks and gum that can get lodged between the wire and your teeth.
Another thing to keep in mind with clear aligners is that you'll need to drink only water with them in. Otherwise, take them out each time you eat or drink. Brush and floss before placing them back in your mouth to avoid bacteria and food particles getting stuck between your teeth and the clear aligners. While clear aligners can soak in cleaning solutions or be rinsed in warm water, braces will need to be brushed and flossed regularly.
Not everybody is a candidate for clear aligners, however, and for those who are not, clear braces can be a good compromise.
Clear braces are a type of ceramic braces that help patients straighten their teeth just like traditional metal braces. They are less noticeable than the traditional metal that’s been used for decades, but they still use wires and brackets to gradually move teeth into their new positions.
The ceramic brackets match closely to the colour of your tooth enamel, making them blend in much more than traditional metal brackets do. Sometimes, your wires can also be applied to match the colour of your teeth to further add to the natural appearance of your clear braces.
How should I care for clear braces and metal braces?
Whether you choose metal braces or clear braces, it’s important to have excellent dental hygiene while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Because food and plaque can easily get caught in the wires and brackets, brushing and flossing become even more important to avoid cavities and gingivitis.
Which foods should I avoid?
With both clear braces and more traditional metal ones, you should resist eating often delicious but sticky foods such as most candy, popcorn, caramel, and apples, all of which can lead to the metal becoming displaced or damage.
Do clear braces stain?
If you choose clear braces, you’ll want to be careful with which foods and drink you consume, as the brackets on clear braces can become more easily stained than on metal braces. Avoid dark-coloured foods and drinks like cola and blueberries.
What about cost?
As we mentioned above, clear braces may be a great option for patients who aren’t candidates for clear aligners. Financially, ceramic braces are the mid-range between traditional metal braces and clear aligners. Metal braces are the most affordable option, while clear aligners are just above the average cost of braces. Of course, this all depends on the nature and extent of your orthodontic problem.
How long will I have to wear braces?
The fact that braces are not removable may actually be an advantage if you’re not sure whether you have the self-discipline needed for removable clear aligners.
Both metal braces and clear braces are comparable when it comes to the duration of your treatment time. Patients typically wear them anywhere from 1 to 3 years, depending on the nature of their dental issues.