Invisalign or Braces: Which Is the Best Option for You?

Whether you are a teenager or an adult, if you have orthodontic issues, braces are your best option for good oral and overall health. Adults may be hesitant to spend the next two years with a mouth full of traditional metal braces, but there are other options. Tooth-colored braces, braces on the back of your teeth, and clear plastic aligners are the most popular alternatives to traditional metal braces. When your teeth are examined by our orthodontist, the type of orthodontic problem you have will be determined. Invisalign® may not be the best treatment for certain issues. You can learn about Invisalign® and the other types of braces and get the expert advice of our orthodontist. 

The three types of braces mentioned above all use brackets, wires, and rubber bands to move your teeth into the correct position. Invisalign® is a different system that uses clear food-grade plastic aligners that fit over your teeth to move them gradually into the right place to correct the problem. The Invisalign® system is planned from start to finish in advance. Based on a 3D image of your teeth, each new aligner is designed. After about two weeks, you insert the next aligner to keep your teeth moving in the right direction. 

The Benefits of Invisalign®

  • Appearance

Invisalign® is virtually invisible. This is a huge benefit for adults who need orthodontic treatment but don’t want to meet the public wearing braces. Some teenagers don’t mind metal braces. They consider them a normal part of growing up. Others don’t want to spend their teenage years wearing braces in every photograph. This is even more important in the age of selfies. Invisalign® solves this problem. For adults, no one will comment that you are wearing braces. You may never have to explain why you need orthodontic treatment as an adult. For teenagers, the fact that you look better is enough. 

  • No dietary restrictions

You need to wear your aligners for at least 20 to 22 hours every day. This means you take them out to eat and clean your teeth. You can also avoid wearing them for a short time if you want to attend a special event and don’t want to be bothered taking them out to eat. 

Braces that have wires and brackets have dietary restrictions because certain foods can break them. Since you remove your aligners to eat, you can eat all your favorite foods. 

It’s important to remember that even for drinking a cup of coffee, you need to remove the aligner. The coffee can get caught inside the aligner, which may cause tooth decay and it may stain the plastic. If you drink a lot of tea or coffee, you may want to reduce the amount or remember to remove the aligner each time and clean your teeth before reinserting it. 

  • You can keep your teeth clean

Since you remove the aligner to clean your teeth, you can brush and floss just as you always did. This is a huge benefit because cleaning teeth with braces is very time consuming but absolutely necessary. You will need to brush your teeth after every meal before reinserting the aligner. 

  • Fewer visits to our offices

Your full treatment is planned before you begin. Each plastic tray is custom designed for moving your teeth to the desired position. We will tell you how often to change the aligner, but there is no need to visit us for adjustments as is necessary with traditional braces. We will need to monitor your progress, but not as often as if you had traditional braces. 

Things to Consider with Invisalign®

Since the aligners are removable, you may be tempted to remove them too often. Getting the best orthodontic treatment from Invisalign® requires discipline. You need to remember to replace the aligner after each meal. You will prolong your treatment by months if you don’t wear them at least 20-22 hours a day. If you lose one, you should contact our office immediately to get a replacement. You can lengthen your treatment time if you wait too long to get a replacement. 

You may find it inconvenient to remove your aligners every time you eat or drink anything other than water. This can be especially inconvenient when you are eating in public. You need to take them out discreetly and keep them somewhere safe. Also, if you don’t brush your teeth after eating or drinking you risk getting cavities, bad breath, and stains, and food particles can block the required movement of your teeth. 

The Benefits of Traditional Braces

Traditional braces and the newer lingual braces have a lot of advantages for correcting even severe orthodontic problems. Some of the advantages of traditional braces are:

  • They are suitable for all orthodontic problems for any age

While Invisalign® is the treatment of choice for straightening teeth, many other orthodontic problems could seriously affect your health. Traditional braces can treat multiple dental and facial issues because the brackets and wires are the most powerful way to move teeth into the correct position. They are considered the best treatment for younger people because additional appliances can be incorporated into the treatment. This gives them more flexibility for addressing orofacial issues in children and teenagers. 

Traditional braces are the best for treating bite problems. Overbite means your upper teeth extend beyond the lower tooth line. Underbite means your lower teeth extend beyond your upper teeth. Crossbite means one jaw is off center from the other. The teeth don’t meet properly. This is a serious condition that can cause your teeth to wear down quicker and make eating certain foods painful. 

  • They have discreet options

Traditional braces are usually stainless steel and some have colorful rubber bands that teenagers like, but thanks to new technology, you can get tooth-colored traditional braces. Made from ceramic with tooth-colored wires, these give the advantages of traditional braces but are much more invisible than metal braces. They can’t be easily seen from a distance and usually don’t show up in photographs. A person needs to be standing right in front of you to see the braces.

Things to Consider with Traditional Braces

  • More effort is needed for teeth cleaning

It takes a lot of care and attention to cleaning your teeth with traditional braces. Since the appliance is fixed, you have to clean around each bracket and between each tooth. Failure to do this may have disastrous results. You could develop white spots on your tooth enamel that cannot be removed later when your braces are removed. You may develop tooth decay, tooth discoloration and gum disease. We will give you special tools for keeping your teeth clean with braces that make the job easier.

  • You will have dietary restrictions

You will be asked to avoid certain foods during the time you wear traditional braces. Sticky food can pull apart wires and hard foods can break brackets. Some of the foods you may be asked to avoid are:

  • Hard food such as nuts, ice, hard chips, hard candy, and popcorn
  • Chewy foods such as hard bread and bagels
  • Sticky foods such as chewing gum and caramels
  • Sugary foods such as candy, soft drinks and desserts
  • Foods you need to bite such as whole apples, corn on the cob, and carrot sticks

Other things you may do with your mouth should be avoided such as chewing your fingernails, biting pens and pencils or biting temple stems on glasses. These all have the potential to break parts of braces. 

When you break a bracket or wire, your treatment stops. In fact, your teeth may start moving back to their original position. It is not uncommon for people to break a wire or bracket, but it needs to be repaired as quickly as possible. It constitutes a dental emergency. 

  • Special care for playing sports

If you play contact sports while you are having orthodontic treatment with braces, we can give you a special mouth guard. This is very important because if you regularly have broken brackets or wires, your treatment may take a year or longer than it needs to. Protection can avoid this. 

  • You will need to wear a retainer after the braces are removed

Retainers stabilize the results of your orthodontic correction. The bond and gum that surround your teeth need to adjust to the new position of your teeth. If you fail to wear the retainer every day, your teeth may start to move into an unwanted position. This could mean you need to start the treatment from the beginning. 

You don’t need to wear your retainer all day every day. It may be enough to wear it every night. Our orthodontist will give you detailed instructions about wearing your retainer. As with any plastic, proper care must be taken to keep your retainer effective. 

  • Don’t leave it where it is exposed to excessive heat such as in a dishwasher or dashboard of a car.
  • Keep it in its case when you are not wearing it.
  • Pets may be tempted to chew on your retainer so take care.
  • Clean it when you take it out of your mouth and again before you put it back in at night. You can brush it with toothpaste and use a denture cleaning solution occasionally. 

There are fixed retainers made from bonded wire that you never remove. However, they need to be kept very clean or they can cause tooth decay and gum disease. If this is a good option for you, we will monitor it every six months to make sure it is in good condition. 

How to Know if You Need Braces

If you look in the mirror and see crooked or overcrowded teeth, it is pretty obvious you may need braces. Not only to give you a beautiful smile but to make it easier for you to clean your teeth and avoid other problems. However, there are other conditions that braces may cure that you don’t realize are related to your teeth. Here are a few things to look for. If you have one or more of these conditions, it’s worth having a consultation with our orthodontist to see if braces can cure your issues and if so, decide your best option.

  • If your upper or lower teeth protrude and push your lips out. This is probably a bite problem.
  • If you can’t floss well because of overlapping teeth, it could result in gum disease.
  • If you have gaps or pockets between your teeth where food regularly gets stuck.
  • If you have chronic bad breath even after brushing and flossing that may mean you are not able to clean your teeth properly.
  • If you speak with a lisp, it could be because of a bad bite.
  • If you have frequent jaw pain it may be because you can’t chew properly putting excess strain on your jaw joints.

The best way to know if Invisalign® or braces are the best option for you is to have a thorough examination that will determine the extent of your orthodontic problems. Feel free to visit the office of Brodie Bowman, DMD to learn more. We are conveniently located in Fort Walton Beach and Niceville, FL. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!