Being told that you or your child need orthodontic treatment can leave you feeling a little overwhelmed. You might be comparing braces vs. Invisalign, wondering which is right for you. You’re likely to have a number of questions and concerns, and you may be wondering what’s causing the issue, what treatments are recommended for your specific case, and how we’ll correct the problem. You may also want to discuss which treatments are the most effective, if one type of treatment is more affordable than another, and what differences exist between popular orthodontic treatments like traditional braces and the Invisalign clear aligner system.
Here at Petrunic Orthodontics, we believe that our patients should be as informed as possible in their orthodontic plan before beginning treatment. Although we offer a variety of treatments, traditional braces and Invisalign tend to be our two most popular options. Both have been designed to straighten your smile and improve your oral health, but there are some key differences we’ll take a look at below. Along with input from Dr. Petrunic, this will help you determine which of these options could be the best fit for you and your lifestyle!
Why Choose Traditional Braces?
Traditional braces have been around for many years, and have a well-established history of successfully treating malocclusions. They are usually composed of metal or ceramic brackets that are attached to your teeth, then tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands or elastics.
Through regularly scheduled adjustment appointments with Dr. Petrunic, these components will begin working together to gradually move the teeth into the desired positions.
Thanks to recent advancements in modern orthodontics, today’s braces are subtler and more comfortable than ever before. They’re also customizable! We offer multi-colored brackets and bands available for patients who want a pop of personality, and clear or tooth-colored brackets for those who prefer a more discreet look.
Braces are fixed appliances, which means that they stay in your mouth until treatment is complete. This is just one factor that makes these orthodontic workhorses incredibly efficient at correcting oral issues, ranging from mild to complex. They can sometimes be faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than clear aligners like Invisalign, meaning that you’ll spend less time in treatment.
However, since everyone’s mouth is different and reacts differently to treatment, there’s no “one size fits all” answer for how long treatment will last. Generally, patients will wear their braces for 12-36 months. With braces, you’ll often be able to see some signs of improvement in a relatively short period of time which can give you a boost of encouragement as you begin to notice your new smile!
Maintaining traditional braces may be a bit of a challenge, especially in the first few weeks. A good dental hygiene routine is especially important for orthodontics patients, but getting the brackets and wires completely clean can be tricky since food debris can get stuck in the nooks and crannies of your braces. This gives bad bacteria a place to flourish and increases the risk for tooth decay and cavities.
Fortunately, there are a number of accessories available that can make cleaning much easier. For example, oral irrigators like a Waterpik use a targeted stream of water to help rinse those hard to reach places, and ortho-picks are really effective when it comes to flossing with braces.
Perhaps one of the biggest learning curves to come with braces is the food restriction, which can definitely take some getting used to. To protect your braces and your teeth, you’ll need to avoid anything that’s too crunchy or too chewy until you finish up your treatment. This includes some raw fruits and veggies (like apples or carrots), popcorn, gum, nuts, and several different types of candy and sweets. Just remember, your braces are only temporary, and it will all be worth it when your braces come off and your stunning, healthy new smile is revealed!
While you’re in braces, you’ll be scheduled for follow-up visits with us at regular intervals. These visits will usually be every 6-10 weeks or so. During these adjustment appointments, Dr. Petrunic will change the bands that are attached to your brackets. They may choose to replace the wire at this time as well.
These quick appointments are a crucial part of your treatment plan, and help ensure you get the best results in the least amount of time. While you may experience some slight soreness after each adjustment, it will only be temporary, and is a reliable sign that your braces are doing their job!
What Are the Benefits of Invisalign?
The Invisalign system is not a fixed orthodontic appliance like braces. Instead of brackets, bands, and wires, it uses a series of clear, removable aligners. These custom-made trays are made of a comfortable plastic material and have small, tooth-colored attachments that allow them to fit snugly over your teeth. Aligners will generally be switched out every 1-2 weeks for the next in the series to keep up with the movements your teeth are making.
Although Invisalign is a relatively new method of treatment compared to braces, it’s still incredibly popular with both patients and orthodontists. The aligners are a convenient, efficient method for gently moving the teeth, particularly in cases that aren’t too complicated or severe. The clear, smooth plastic is also easier on the mouth than braces, and doesn’t tend to irritate the gums or cheeks the way brackets and wires can.
Even though the end results are the same with these two treatment options, Invisalign uses a different, less invasive way to straighten the teeth. The clear plastic trays fit snugly over your teeth to gently exert force, moving your teeth into better positions over time. The trays are changed out every week or two for the next in the series, to keep the teeth moving in the direction we want them to go.
As with braces, there’s no concrete answer for how long a patient will need to wear the aligners, though the average tends to be somewhere between 1-2 years. Of course, this can vary wildly! Patient compliance is a huge factor in how successful Invisalign treatment is—the system can only work if the guidelines recommended to you by Dr. Petrunic are followed exactly. If aligners aren’t worn the required 20-22 hours per day throughout the course of treatment, your treatment may be delayed and your results can be affected.
Invisalign aligners are extremely easy to maintain. They’re actually designed to be removed before eating or drinking anything other than water, so you never have to worry about food getting stuck in your appliance. You also take them out before brushing and flossing, so dental hygiene is a much simpler process than it is with braces. The removability of the Invisalign aligners also means there are no food restrictions! You’re free to eat everything you normally would with Invisalign, as long as you’re careful to brush after every meal and floss nightly.
Invisalign patients will typically have follow-up visits approximately every 6-8 weeks. You’ll be responsible for keeping up with changing your aligner at the recommended weekly or bi-weekly interval. If you make a habit of skipping or rescheduling appointments, or miss changing your aligners when you’re scheduled to, it can quickly undo any progress you’ve made.
Finding the right fit for your smile
When you consider all the pros and cons of braces and Invisalign, it’s clear that both options are excellent choices for straightening smiles and improving oral health. However, one will generally be better-suited for your smile needs and goals, which is why it’s so important to work with a qualified and experienced orthodontic team like ours!
When you schedule an orthodontic evaluation with Petrunic Orthodontics, we’ll be able to tell you which treatment would be the best fit for your smile, your lifestyle, and your goals. This results in a beautifully aligned smile that’s just right for your face!
Our conveniently located Prattville office means you’re never far from taking the first step towards a smile you’ll be proud to show off! To learn more about whether braces or Invisalign could work for you, get in touch today to schedule your first orthodontic evaluation.