For over 100 years, the main method for teeth straightening offered by orthodontists was metal braces. Still an effective cosmetic dentistry option today, an orthodontist may recommend metal braces as an appropriate treatment for you.
Iconic in popular culture, metal braces came to represent teenagers moving towards adulthood—putting in the hard yards to get straight teeth before heading off to university or entering the workforce. For some people wanting teeth straightening, the association between metal braces and adolescence is not ideal. Additionally, some people simply don’t like the look of metal in their mouth, and would prefer a less conspicuous alternative. This is where options like ceramic or clear braces come in.
Ceramic braces are an alternative to metal braces, and have been around for a few decades. They operate in a similar fashion to their stainless steel counterparts, but the ceramic is a closer match to the colour of the tooth, and therefore, less noticeable.
Clear braces effectively straighten teeth, yet due to their transparency, are perfect for those who want their teeth transformation to go unnoticed. Invisalign ® is Beachside Dental Clinic’s choice of clear braces.
An alternative to traditional braces, Invisalign® treatment straightens your teeth using clear plastic orthodontic aligners (trays). Invisalign treats overbite, underbite, crossbite, gap teeth, open bite, and crowded teeth.
How it works
- An orthodontist takes a mould of your teeth, which is used to create a series of 3D printed Invisalign trays.
- You wear each Invisalign tray for approximately 2 weeks, then progress up to the next sized tray, and so on, until desired results are achieved.
- Invisalign are worn for between 20-22 hours per day. You remove them to eat, drink and clean your teeth.
- Temporary attachments may be placed on your teeth to help hold Invisalign trays in place, if necessary.
- You may require IPR (interproximal reduction) as part of the treatment. IPR smoothes down the enamel between the teeth in order to create space for the teeth to move into a more ideal position.
- Invisalign aren’t noticeable, so your teeth straightening journey won’t be obvious.
- Invisalign has outcomes similar to metal braces, as long as you follow the instructions of use.
- The number of trays you’re given at the outset doesn’t necessarily indicate the total number of trays you’ll go through. When you reach that last tray, your orthodontist may advise you to continue with more trays, until the straightening is satisfactory.
- Some people may experience discomfort as they become used to wearing Invisalign, or find the feel of the attachments unusual. This discomfort is usually brief.
- In addition, each new set of trays is larger than the previous, so they may take some getting used to, and the trays may rub against parts of the mouth, such as the inner lip. If this is the case, your orthodontist may be able to adjust the tray to make it more comfortable.
- You may still need to wear rubber bands, similar to those worn with metal braces, so that the upper and lower arches coordinate.
- A fair level of discipline is required with Invisalign, as you need to wear them for the required number of hours each day, and be vigilant about removing them to eat and drink. You also need to clean your teeth and the tray after eating and drinking, before placing the tray back in your mouth (the trays can smell if they are not regularly cleaned). This means you always need a toothbrush handy. It also means it’s not easy to snack (this may be an advantage for those wanting to reduce snacking).
Whilst this drawback list might look long, the drawbacks of using Invisalign certainly don’t exceed those of using metal or ceramic braces. Here’s a quick comparison between metal and ceramic braces, and Invisalign.
Braces vs Invisalign
- In terms of discomfort, comparisons are mostly irrelevant. You are undergoing a process where your teeth are essentially being slowly forced into a new position. With all methods, some discomfort may occur at an appointment and for a few days following either a braces adjustment or the insertion of a new Invisalign tray.
- Both metal and ceramic braces can irritate the soft tissues of the mouth, (although ceramic braces are a little more gentle on tissues than stainless steel).
- Because Invisalign trays can be filed down/adjusted, abrasions are usually not an issue.
- Ceramic braces can stain, so wearers need to avoid drinks like red wine and coffee. Similarly, fixture points for metal braces can become stained, which becomes apparent after braces are removed.
- Stains are less of a concern for wearers of Invisalign clear braces, as you can easily clean your teeth after eating and drinking.
- Metal brace wearers need to avoid foods that are hard, chewy or crunchy, as it’s difficult to clean these foods out of the braces. Because clear braces are removed before eating, wearers can indulge in these foods, as long as they clean their teeth before placing the trays back in.
Can I have Invisalign braces?
The decision about which type of braces are best suited to you will come down to orthodontist recommendation, your budget, your lifestyle (which option you’re most likely to maintain) and how you feel about the look of metal, ceramic or clear braces. If your heart is set on clear braces, your orthodontist will do their best to make this option possible for you.