Up until the start of the 21st Century, metal braces were the only option for those who needed or wanted to straighten and correct their teeth alignment, bite and jaw. However, the industry was transformed just before the year 2000 with the release of Invisalign, the invisible way to straighten teeth with removable aligners.
Founded in 1997, this new treatment option began with two Stanford University students with no previous experience in orthodontics creating the first effective metal-free alternative. Align Technology, the creators of Invisalign, was founded by Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth in San Jose, California.
A new option for straightening
Created as a 'braces' alternative, Invisalign uses a series of clear aligners that patients swap out every two weeks to slowly re-align their teeth. Aligners can be left out for up to four hours each day, making eating, photos and big events easier to manage.
The basis of Invisalign gives patients the option to have braces discretely because they are made to be invisible. Invisalign uses aligner trays made of BPA-free plastic to subtly and gradually move your teeth. This type of plastic is smooth and comfortable, so wearing the trays is an easy process. Rather than using a mould, Invisalign uses a 3-D image of your teeth to configure aligner trays with just the right fit.
The invisible pros and cons
What many consider an advantage of the clear aligner can also be its primary disadvantage. Because you must remove it before consuming any food or beverage, it's easy to misplace or drop on the ground. Maintenance, while not extremely difficult, is equally as demanding as braces as you must wash the tray and brush your teeth each time before putting it back over your teeth.
A place for traditional alignment
The metal aligners are what people typically picture when they think of getting braces. Metal brackets are glued to the enamel of each tooth. Metal wires are then manoeuvred between the brackets to help mould and shape your teeth over time. The wires being placed on the bracket can sometimes be made the same colour as your enamel, so they're less noticeable. Or, patients can choose from multiple colours to have a bit of fun with their braces—perfect for teens!
Still a sound option
Traditional metal braces, while more complex in the eyes of many new patients, are best suited when correcting serious or more complicated issues. Unlike the clear aligners, this option can't be removed, which streamlines maintenance and ensures you don't accidentally lose them.
Otherwise, the most notable drawback of traditional metal appliances is the actual structure. The wires and teeth restrictions may become uncomfortable, especially following an adjustment. Because of the structure and design, certain foods may need to be avoided.
Which is best?
Ultimately, the only disadvantage derived from either option is if the wrong treatment is used.
Thankfully, advancements in orthodontic planning significantly reduces treatment errors and ensures the best option is used based upon your unique situation.
If you're considering braces as a straightening option get in contact with your Bite dentist. We're happy to take a look at your individual needs and to help guide you to making the best decision for you.