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Which is the best option for me, Invisalign or traditional braces?

Choosing to get braces for the first (or second) time is a big decision. When you consider that the minimum treatment time is typically around 6 months, this is not something that you decide on a whim.

When you start exploring treatment options, you will often be presented with two choices. Invisalign is a removable aligner system that uses clear plastic aligners to gradually straighten your teeth. Traditional fixed braces use brackets and wires to move your teeth into the correct position.

While both systems are incredibly effective at straightening your teeth, there are huge differences between the two. Choosing between fixed and removable aligners can have a big impact on the outcome of your treatment, so it’s important to consider the pros and cons of both before making a final decision.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is an orthodontic system that uses a series of clear plastic aligners to gradually move your teeth. Every aligner is a little bit closer to your perfect smile. You wear the aligners for 20-22 hours per day, only removing them to eat, drink and brush your teeth. Every few weeks, you change to a new aligner and this slowly brings you closer to your dream smile.

Advantages of Invisalign

The main advantage of Invisalign is that it is a very discreet treatment option. If you’re self-conscious about wearing braces, this would be an ideal choice for you.

Another advantage is that you can remove the aligners to eat, drink and care for your teeth. This means that no foods are off-limits and you don’t have to drastically change your oral care routine.

There are also fewer dental checkups as you can change your aligners at home, rather than visiting the dentist for adjustments.

Disadvantages of Invisalign

It’s very easy to forget to wear your aligners, which can be problematic and hold back your treatment plan. It’s also possible you could lose an aligner, which would mean you would have to wait for a replacement which can delay treatment.

If you enjoy hot drinks throughout the day, you might also struggle with this treatment option as you would have to remove your aligners every time you enjoy a tea or coffee.

In addition to cleaning your teeth, you’ll also need to clean your aligners. You’ll also need to rinse them every time you remove them to eat, which can be problematic for some people.

And finally, you may also need attachments added to your teeth, which are small tabs that allow the aligners to get a better grip on your teeth. This can make your treatment a lot less discreet, which means that traditional fixed braces might be more suitable.

What are fixed braces?

Fixed braces move your teeth into the correct position using brackets and wires. Brackets are attached to each tooth and then a wire runs between them. Tension on the wire is adjusted to help apply pressure to your teeth and push them into the correct alignment.

Fixed braces are incredibly effective and easy to wear. Since you can’t remove them, you simply get used to wearing them. There are more discreet options available, including tooth-coloured brackets with clear wires. You could also choose lingual braces, which are attached to the back of your teeth, rather than the front.

Advantages of fixed braces

Fixed braces offer a simple treatment plan. All you have to do is wear your braces and brush them twice a day using a special brush. Since you can’t remove them, there is no risk of falling behind with your treatment plan.

Fixed braces can also help you to adopt good eating habits. Some foods will be off-limits throughout your treatment plan, so you will have to avoid things like sweets and sticky foods. Many people report better eating habits as an unexpected side-effect of getting braces.

And finally, you’ll have close supervision from your dentist throughout treatment, which can be ideal if you have a lot of questions about the treatment plan.

Disadvantages of fixed braces

You will have to adjust your diet to accommodate your fixed braces, as some foods are more likely to get stuck in your braces. Things like chewing gum, pizza crust and corn on the cob will be off-limits for the duration of your treatment.

Another disadvantage of this treatment is that it is more visible than clear plastic aligners. It will be more obvious to those around you that you are wearing braces. If you are self-conscious about your appearance, this can be troubling.

You will need to commit to more dental appointments with fixed braces, as your dentist will be the only one who can make adjustments to keep the treatment moving forward.

And finally, you will also need to take extra special care of your teeth and braces throughout the treatment. Since your braces will provide the perfect hiding place for food debris, you’ll need to make sure you brush your teeth carefully.

Which is the best option for me?

Both systems are incredibly effective for straightening your teeth, so the only thing that should determine which one you choose is a personal preference.

If you are looking for a discreet option that won’t be too obvious to those around you, then Invisalign offers obvious benefits. But if you are more concerned with making the treatment as simple as possible, then traditional fixed braces would work for you.

Think about your current lifestyle and what you would need to change to follow the treatment plan. If you are looking for flexibility, then Invisalign offers some obvious advantages. You’ll be able to remove the aligners when you need to, which can be perfect for professionals who feel they need this flexibility.

But if you would prefer the certainty of knowing that you can never lose your aligners or fall behind with your treatment plan, then fixed braces would be ideal for you. Remember that less visible versions are available too, so if it’s simply a case of aesthetics, then Invisalign isn’t your only option.

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