Orthodontic issues are quite common and most of these are caused either due to genetic or non-genetic factors. Such issues are commonly referred to as malocclusion. A malocclusion is a bad bite that interferes with the correct alignment of the teeth.
To prevent serious consequences in future, it is recommended that a child visits an orthodontist between the ages of 6-8. This is when permanent teeth start erupting and any signs of misalignment can be spotted easily. One of the important benefits of starting orthodontic treatment at an early age is that the treatment would be more effective since the child’s jawbones are still developing.
An adult’s jawbones are comparatively more dense making it a bit difficult to realign the teeth to its desired position. The most common type of orthodontic treatment is metal braces. But orthodontics has evolved lately and there have been interesting developments with respect to treatment techniques. Malocclusion that was once treated with metal braces can now be treated with clear aligners without compromising on the aesthetics. Let’s explore how clear aligners are different from braces and how they are more beneficial in comparison to traditional braces.
What are Traditional Metal Braces?
Some of the common orthodontic issues observed among people are crowded teeth and spacing issues, underbite, overbite/deep bite, crossbite, missing teeth, impacted teeth among others. You should consult an orthodontist to correctly diagnose the underlying condition. Metal braces were once the go-to option for most misalignment issues. Braces move the teeth to their desired position by exerting pressure on the jaws. These consist of archwires, brackets and elastic bands attached to teeth.
What are Braces Made of?
Brackets: These are stainless steel metal squares attached to the surface of the tooth with an adhesive.
Archwires: Archwires are thin rod-like metal wires that connect the brackets on the teeth.
Elastic bands: Elastic bands are placed around the brackets to hold the brackets on the archwire.
Though metal braces are an effective treatment option, most of us today aren’t comfortable wearing these. Metal braces don’t blend with the natural appearance of the teeth. As discussed above, the wires, brackets and bands look like extra fittings on the teeth which affects people’s confidence. They become too conscious of their appearance and tend to conceal their smiles while undergoing the treatment.
What are Clear Aligners?
Clear aligners, as the name suggests, are transparent aligners that don’t use any metal brackets or archwires to move the teeth. Made of thermoplastic, these aren’t noticeable when fitted inside the mouth. Clear aligners must be worn at least 22 hours a day to get optimal results from the treatment plan. These are customized according to your specific orthodontic condition.
Benefits of Clear Aligners that Make them Preferable Over Traditional Braces
Clear aligners have numerous benefits which make them an ideal treatment option for cases of misalignment. In today’s day and age, comfort and convenience are of utmost importance for patients which is exactly why clear aligners are now in trend. Listed below are a few benefits that tip the scales in favor of using clear aligners.
Aesthetic Appeal Isn’t Compromised
Brackets and wires are an unavoidable part of the treatment if you choose to fix your teeth with metal braces. Most adults and teenagers find it embarrassing to have metal wires on their teeth which negatively affects their confidence. Clear aligners, on the other hand, don’t interfere with the appearance of the teeth. Patients can undergo treatment with their friends and co-workers never having to know about it. Aligners are a discreet orthodontic solution.
No Need to Keep a List of Restricted Foods
With metal braces, patients are left with no option other than wearing the braces for 24 hours until the bad bite is rectified. This means you have to keep them on while eating, drinking and sleeping. It causes great inconvenience as patients are compelled to avoid certain foods that can cause the brackets to come loose.
Hard foods like certain vegetables and fruits, sticky foods like gums etc. are a strict no when wearing metal braces. Clear aligners are free of any brackets or wires which means they can be easily removed when eating. You can nibble on popcorn, chew a vegetable or have a gum and put them on after you are finished eating. Don’t forget to rinse your mouth before putting them back on your teeth!
Oral Hygiene Can be Maintained like Before
Patients often find it difficult to maintain oral hygiene with metal braces. They fail to follow proper oral care routines as metal wires come in the way of normal brushing and flossing. This translates to calcium deposits and plaque on the teeth by the time your orthodontic treatment session comes to an end.
While your teeth get straightened, you are faced with a new problem – decay and cavities. Since clear aligners are removable, your oral hygiene routine remains the same like before. You don’t have to worry about flossing through metal wires or food particles staying stuck in between the brackets. Simply remove them and fit it back in your mouth once you are done with your oral care routine.
3D Scanning Provides Accurate Treatment Plan
Clear aligners are customized for each individual by taking a digital scan of the patient’s teeth. It’s hassle-free, accurate and quick. Clear aligners can be made with impression less scanning which is a more comfortable option in the opinion of most patients. You will know the duration for which you will be required to wear the clear aligners before you can achieve your perfect smile.
It Doesn’t Hurt Your Cheeks and Gums
Metal braces can hurt your cheeks and gums. The sharp wires can scar the soft skin inside the mouth. After you put on braces, you will feel sore for a few days. Clear aligners, on the other hand, are extremely comfortable. They are transparent trays that snugly fit into your mouth. There isn’t any scope for injuries with clear aligners.
You Have to Deal with Only Fewer Dental Appointments
Clear aligners are best for patients with busy schedules. The appointments will be shorter compared to metal braces. You will receive your set of clear aligners during your dental visit after which your dentist may fix an appointment after six weeks to examine the teeth’s movement. With traditional braces, the orthodontist will have to adjust the brackets and wires for frequent tightening whereas clear aligners will need you to visit the clinic for only a quick examination of the teeth.
Clear Aligners are Easier to Maintain
Taking care of clear aligners is a lot easier than metal braces. You can remove them and clean with your brush unlike metal braces that are harder to clean, thanks to all the wires and brackets attached to your teeth. Brush the clear aligners with a non-abrasive toothpaste like you would brush your teeth and store them in the case when not in use. It’s that simple!
The global clear aligners market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 29.5% from 2022 to 2030 according to a report by Grand View Research. Clear aligners are removable alternatives to metal braces that are now a popular choice among teenagers and adults who are conscious of their physical appearance.
However, you first need to consult an orthodontist who would diagnose your condition and suggest the ideal treatment plan. While clear aligners previously had limited applications, it is now used to treat a range of orthodontic conditions. If given a choice between clear aligners and metal braces, you should definitely give clear aligners a shot!