Do Braces Get Your Teeth Straighter Than Other Methods?
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Table of Contents
- Braces vs. Aligners
- Traditional Braces
- How do Braces Straighten Teeth?
- Braces Materials
- Types of Braces
- Treatment Plan Duration
- Clear Aligners Treatment
- How Aligners Work
- Better Oral Health with Aligners
- Conditions Treated by Braces vs. Aligners
- Investigate the Best Options
- Braces vs. Aligners FAQs
Braces vs. Aligners
Braces have been the go-to dental appliance for straightening teeth for decades, but today, people have other options. With the growing popularity of doctor-monitored, at-home aligners, more people are interested in using this approach instead of metal-based braces and retainers.
Clear aligners can correct many misalignment issues, including gaps and crowded teeth. However, they may not be the best option for some more serious dental misalignments.
Many people get braces in their teenage years, but teeth can still become misaligned in adulthood. Orthodontists report a 34 percent rise in adults pursuing straighter teeth, using a variety of orthodontic devices.
If you have a smile you are less than proud of in adulthood, you may start seeking out more subtle options than traditional braces. For mild to moderate cases, braces won’t get your teeth straighter than aligners, but for severe cases, they might.
Traditional Braces Work for all Misalignment Issues
Dental braces are appliances that use metal wires and either metal or ceramic brackets to push your teeth into alignment. These devices are able to correct most types of misalignment in your teeth, including crowding, crooked teeth, gaps or spacing problems, and malocclusions of your jaw.
How do Braces Straighten Teeth?
With braces, very small brackets are applied or cemented to the teeth, with bands or elastics placed over them. Wires (called archwires) connect the brackets. These wires are tightened throughout treatment during regular adjustment visits. The tightening applies pressure to the teeth in order to force movement into a new and corrected position.
There are generally five steps to braces treatment:
Bonding & Banding
With advancements in materials like ceramics and stainless steel, current versions of traditional braces are more lightweight, smaller, and more effective than ever before.
Materials used in today’s braces include the following:
- Stainless steel brackets and wires
- Ceramic brackets with stainless steel wires
- Self-ligating elastic and metal bands
Types of Braces
The types of braces that may be right for you depend on several factors, including how serious your misalignment is, if you have an overbite or underbite, and how old you are. Adults have teeth that are more firmly rooted in their gums, so you may need a stronger option to make your smile straighter, particularly if you have these more serious issues.
Types of braces include the following:
Traditional Meta Braces
When many people hear the term braces, they think of traditional metal braces. The metal hardware on traditional braces is more visible than other options, and these braces may be needed in some cases of severe malocclusion.
They’re highly customizable and effective for use in complex treatment plans. They’re also the most affordable braces treatment option.
Ceramic 'Invisible' Braces
With lingual braces, the hardware is attached to the back of teeth. This makes them virtually invisible, which is why people choose this option. However, lingual braces have many drawbacks as well.
They’re one of the most expensive orthodontic options and can take longer to get used to. Adjustments may be more uncomfortable, and people can experience speech and eating difficulty throughout treatment.
Treatment Plan Duration
If you use traditional braces, your treatment plan will be customized to the severity of your misalignment and include other devices like a retainer after your braces are removed. The entire course may take between one and three years, on average.
If you follow your orthodontist’s instructions, you will wear braces for the least amount of time possible. If you accidentally snap a wire or band, for example, you may need to wear braces longer.
Clear Aligners for a Barely Visible Smile Treatment
Since Invisalign was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998, clear aligners have become the most popular option for adults who want to straighten their teeth. Typically, these aligners are considered invisible braces since they align your teeth by exerting pressure, similarly to traditional braces.
Several companies offer clear aligners through the mail. Some require only one in-person appointment and ongoing virtual sessions with an orthodontist. Others don’t involve any in-person visits. You take your own impressions at home, and your treatment plan is then created and overseen by a doctor.
Aside from Invisalign, options for straightening your teeth with clear aligners include the following:
How Aligners Work
Clear aligners are removable and custom-made to fit comfortably over teeth and guide movement to proper alignment.
Teeth aligners treatment usually includes these steps:
Impressions or a Tooth Scan
Your aligner provider will need to understand your current bite and orthodontic issues in order to make sure that you’re a candidate for clear aligners and to create a treatment plan.
Some providers will start with an in-office tooth scan. Others will take impressions (moldings) of your teeth.
If you’re considering mail-order aligner treatment, top providers (including Byte) will send you an at-home impression kit and refund the cost if it’s determined you’re not a candidate for aligners.
Treatment Plan Designed & Aligners Created
Progress Through Series of Aligner Trays
If you’re receiving your aligners through an in-office dentist or orthodontist, they will provide you with your aligners during appointments.
If you are completing an at-home aligner treatment, your provider will send you all of your trays at once (an aligner kit). The kit may include additional products, like whitening cream or aligner chewies.
Byte includes the HyperByte high-frequency massage tool in every aligner kit. Massage tools like these may improve the comfort and speed of aligner treatment30164-4/fulltext#relatedArticles).1
Regardless of whether you receive your aligners in an office or at home, the trays will gradually move your teeth into place. You’ll wear each one for a week or two before moving to the next.
Throughout your program, you’ll check in with your aligner provider to ensure treatment is progressing as planned. For in-office aligners, this will mean visits to the practice. For at-home aligners, virtual check-ins will allow your supervising doctor to see your teeth movement.
Byte has an award-winning app for tracking aligner progress and communicating with clinical and support staff.
Aligner Treatment Completed
As with braces, wearing a retainer is important to make sure teeth stay in their new, corrected placements. Retainers will have to be worn day and night for up to six months, and then worn part-time after that.
Teeth shift with age. To ensure your smile stays put, retainers should be worn for the rest of your life after treatment with braces or aligners.
Many aligner providers offer clear retainers. Byte even provides you with your first after-treatment retainer for free.
Better Oral Health with Aligners
One medical study found that people who use clear aligners have better periodontal health than those who have traditional braces. This is because aligners are removable, which makes them easier to clean. It is easier for you to brush, floss, and care for your whole mouth.
Adults who use invisible aligners also report greater overall satisfaction with their orthodontic treatment.
If you want to straighten your teeth, it is important to get an idea of the severity of your misalignment issues. While doctor-monitored, at-home aligners have advanced greatly and can improve many different types of issues, they won’t work for every case. If you have complex issues, you may still need traditional braces to get the straight teeth you want.
Conditions Treated by Braces vs. Aligners
|Mild misalignment issues||Yes||Yes|
|Moderate misalignment issues||Yes||Yes|
|Severe misalignment issues||Yes||No|
|Mild to moderate bite issues (overbite, underbite, crossbite, open bite)||Yes||Yes|
|Severe bite issues||Yes, though surgery is sometimes required||No|
|Teeth crowding||Yes||Yes, if mild to moderate|
|Teeth gaps||Yes||Yes, if mild to moderate|
|Crooked teeth||Yes||Yes, if mild to moderate|
Investigate the Best Options for your Smile
Aligners work as well as traditional braces, and they typically require less time to correct minor to moderate issues like gaps or crookedness.
They also offer a more discreet teeth-straightening option since they aren’t as obvious as metal or even ceramic braces. If you have an important meeting, you can remove the aligners for this short period of time. You don’t have this option with braces.
In some cases, however, braces can give you straighter teeth than aligners or other options. This is simply because some cases are too severe for aligners to effectively treat them.
If you have a severe overbite or underbite, several missing teeth, major jaw misalignment, and some other issues, braces may work best. You may need additional orthodontic appliances, such as headgear, or even jaw surgery to effectively straighten your smile.
Many people would first like to see if they are a candidate for aligners. You’ll take impressions of your teeth at home, mail them in, and a treatment team will then assess whether aligners will work for you. If they won’t, braces may be your best bet.
Braces vs. Aligners Frequently Asked Questions
Do braces make your teeth completely straight?
Are braces the best way to straighten your teeth?
What is the most effective method of straightening your teeth?
How long do braces take to straighten teeth?
Do braces move teeth right away?
What are the side effects of braces?
These are common problems associated with braces:
- Discomfort and pain: This is especially common after an adjustment visit to the orthodontist (during which the braces are tightened and thus apply more pressure).
- Increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease: The areas between braces and gum and teeth are hard to reach with a toothbrush or floss, and harmful bacteria may build up in these locations.
- Bad breath: Poor oral hygiene with braces can lead to bacteria buildup and foul mouth odors.
- Heightened tooth sensitivity: Teeth tend to be more sensitive during braces treatment.
- Demineralization stains: These are stains on the tooth from contact with bacteria. This may result in small, white square outlines on the teeth where the brackets were.
What is the shortest time period for braces?
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1 The Effects of Brief Daily Vibration on Clear Aligner Orthodontic Treatment30164-4/fulltext#relatedArticles). (November 2018). Journal of the World Federation of Orthodontists.