The concept of orthodontics dates back further than you may think. Evidence from ancient civilisations suggests even early civilisations called upon a variety of methods to achieve straighter, healthier teeth. While the methodology of our forefathers leaves little to be desired, our modern orthodontic industry began in the 20th Century with the widespread use of braces. Throughout the last century, orthodontics swiftly evolved from crude wire cages to the elaborate mechanisms we employ today.
It seemed, up until the start of the 21st Century, braces were the only option for those who need to straighten and correct their teeth. However, the industry was transformed just before the year 2000 with the release of Invisalign. Founded in 1997, the cultural phenomenon sparked by this new treatment option began as two Stanford students with no previous experience in orthodontics created the first effective metal-free alternative.
For over a decade, Invisalign has reshaped more than millions of smiles throughout the world. It changed the face of an entire industry by offering orthodontic patients greater options when it comes to dental corrections. Although it’s relatively new and doesn’t yet have the notoriety of its counterpart, many of our patients are still unsure of its effectiveness.
As with any orthodontic treatment, what works great for your neighbour may not be your ideal option. Because of the widespread publicity and excitement about clear braces, it’s easy to automatically assume they’re far superior in function and effectiveness. Due to their similarity and differences, it’s impossible to say which may be perfect for you. Instead, comparing the features and benefits of each may help better clarify your ideal treatment option. Of course, to make a final determination, it’s essential to speak with your dentist.
The Lifestyle of Orthodontic Treatments
One of the first questions asked by orthodontic patients is how will either treatment integrate with their lifestyle. Your lifestyle, plays a direct role in determining which treatment works best for your hobbies, career and social engagements. For example, if you primarily work an office job where your days are spent hovered over a computer, traditional metal aligners are preferred. However, if after a long workday you enjoy playing sports or embarking upon an outdoor adventure on the weekends, these traditional models isn’t recommended as the metal may cause serious harm to your gums, teeth or lips should your mouth get hit.
On the other hand, if you work in a highly visible profession, such as in sales, traditional orthodontics may be unsavoury as the metal may become a distraction while you speak. In this case, clear orthodontic appliances are preferred.
If you engage in manual labour, strenuous hobbies or work in a highly-visible position, Invisalign may be your best option. Otherwise, a traditional treatment may be your wisest choice.
Average Treatment Duration
The actual treatment duration is based upon many individualised factors, such as severity and type of dental correction needed. However, on average clear aligners are worn for six to 12 months and can be removed for up to four hours per day. Its counterpart, however, must be worn 24/7 up to several years. When you speaking with your dentist, discuss the anticipated timeframe for both treatment options. This can help determine your choice.
While outcomes may be similar, each treatment option delivers significantly different treatment durations. Keep this in mind when making your decision.
As with anything dealing with your mouth, both orthodontic treatments require regular maintenance. But, to the surprise of many new orthodontic patients, maintenance is quick and easy. Traditional treatments are a breeze to clean, as you simply brush your teeth like normal. However, it’s important to pay special attention to wires. Make sure all food debris is thoroughly removed every day to prevent serious complications.
Clear dental aligners are, by far, the easiest to maintain. Mainly, wash out its trays each day to prevent bacteria growth. Lukewarm water and a little mouthwash typically does the trick.
Maintaining both treatment options is relatively easy. However, the risk of food getting caught in wires and brackets requires a little extra attention when cleaning.
During this orthodontic treatment, you’ll get to know your dental clinic quite well. The success of a treatment is founded by regularly adjusting the tightness of the dental device. Traditional metal-and-wire aligners typically require adjustment every month. Clear aligners, however, must be switched out every two weeks.
Keep in mind appointment frequency. This is especially important if you don’t have a reliable or steady method of getting to the dental clinic.
It’s easy to say clear aligners are superior because of its discreetness. While they offer a rare level of flexibility during treatment, the actual advantage is determined by so many other factors. However, clear aligners do eliminate the social, professional or personal embarrassment of wearing traditional orthodontics. Moreover, clear aligners are often less painful than its metal counterpart as there’s no wire that may cut the inside of your lips. Because it’s removable, the risk of complications due to food becoming caught in your wires is non-existent.
Traditional metal aligners, while more complex in the eyes of many new patients, is best suited when correcting serious or more complicated issues. Unlike the clear aligners, this option can’t be removed, which streamlines maintenance and ensures you don’t accidentally lose them.
Both treatment options have numerous advantages. While one is more discreet, the other is less likely to become lost or damaged.
The Downside of Treatments
Ultimately, the only disadvantage derived from either option is if the wrong treatment was used. Thankfully, advancements in orthodontic planning significantly reduces treatment errors and ensures the best option is used based upon your unique situation. Otherwise, the most notable drawback of traditional metal appliances is its actual construction. The wires and teeth restrictions may become uncomfortable, especially following an adjustment. Because of its structure and design, certain foods may need to be avoided.
What many consider an advantage of the clear aligner can also be its primary disadvantage. Because you must remove it before consuming any food or beverage, it’s easy to misplace or drop on the ground. Maintenance, while not extremely difficult, is much more demanding as you must wash the tray and brush your teeth each time before putting it back over your teeth.
There’s no such thing as a perfect orthodontic treatment as they all feature even minor drawbacks. However, when the ideal treatment option is used, disadvantages are quickly outweighed by its benefits.