Orthodontics is the safest and the most natural way to straighten poorly aligned teeth. Traditionally, braces, both metal and ceramic, have been used to straighten teeth. Since metal and ceramic braces are bulky and unaesthetic in appearance, many patients had been avoiding orthodontic treatment. However, the orthodontic scene has now been revolutionized by the advent of clear aligners, also called invisible braces.
What are Clear Aligners?
These are transparent plastic trays that are worn on upper and lower teeth to move them into proper alignment. When these trays are worn, they apply a mild to moderate amount of constant force to move teeth.
During clear aligner treatment, you will be provided with a set of upper and lower trays that need to be worn sequentially. Each set of trays must be worn for a minimum of 22 to 23 hours a day, for around two weeks, before you can switch to the next set of trays.
Many clear aligner brands are now available across the world, including India’s most popular brand – 32Watts Aligners. Most of them are made from biocompatible, soft plastic material. These braces are custom-made for each patient. Before clear aligner treatment begins, your orthodontist performs a thorough clinical evaluation and takes a 3-D scan of your teeth and gums.
This scan is sent to the lab of clear aligners for software simulation. This way, you get to see the final result of your orthodontic treatment before even beginning it! Once your orthodontist and you approve of the treatment plan, the clear aligner lab fabricates your set of aligners.
The first set of aligner trays allow you to get adjusted to the trays before the actual treatment begins. These are called zero-degree aligners and do not move teeth.
Since traditional metal and ceramic braces have been used for decades, they are time-tested with plenty of studies available to prove their effectiveness in straightening teeth. However, with clear aligners, the amount of literature is relatively less and many studies are still underway.
Due to this reason, many patients wonder if these are better than braces or vice versa. Let’s decode this mystery in this article!
Indications for Clear Aligners
Before we delve deeper into whether it is better than braces, here are the most common indications for clear aligners:
- Mild crowding (1-5mm)
- Mild spacing (1-5 mm)
- Deep overbites
- Narrow arches that need expansion
- The intrusion of one or two teeth
- Severe crowding with lower front teeth extraction
From this, we understand that a clear aligner is not a treatment of choice for severe crowding and spacing in teeth, severe rotations, and skeletal malocclusions. Clear aligners are also not advised in cases where the height of the tooth in the mouth is less.
It is in these cases that conventional braces are indicated and are more effective.
It have a few advantages over traditional braces that make them popular with patients. These are:
- They are discreet and almost invisible when worn, even from close distances.
- Easy to wear and remove
- No restrictions on food as aligners are removable
- A great option for adults who are customer-facing or have an active social life
- Easy to maintain oral hygiene (brushing and flossing is convenient)
- You can get your teeth whitened during aligner treatment
- Less frequent orthodontic appointments
Limitations and Disadvantages of Clear Aligners
Despite the many advantages of clear aligners, they have some obvious limitations. These include:
- A tad bit expensive than conventional braces
- You must take care of your aligners when you remove them while eating or brushing
- The success of your treatment depends largely on your compliance and wearing your trays for a minimum of 22 hours every day.
- Not recommended for complex cases or might need to be supplemented with traditional braces in such cases.
Are Clear Aligners better than Braces?
Conventional braces are sturdy and fixed due to which they can apply stronger forces to move your teeth into alignment. This property of braces also makes them the treatment of choice for severe cases of teeth malalignment.
The price of clear aligners is comparable and not too expensive as it is presumed to be. The cost of Invisible Braces depends primarily upon the complexity of your case, location of the clinic and other additional procedures that may be needed before and after aligner treatment. Most dentists and orthodontists offer affordable clear aligner treatment with attractive easy pay EMI options.
Compared to clear aligners, traditional braces apply constant forces for consistent teeth movement, which is not seen in the case of clear aligners. Also, since clear invisible braces can be removed, they need to be worn every day for the minimum number of hours. From this, we can conclude that though clear aligners or invisible braces are the most aesthetic option of orthodontic treatment available today, they are not as effective as braces when it comes to severe teeth malalignment problems. For mild to moderate teeth alignment issues, clear aligners are the best treatment option. They are aesthetic, effective, and take a shorter treatment time for mild cases of teeth alignment.
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