There was a time in history when metal braces were the only option for orthodontic treatment. Today, we offer many options to our patients based on their treatment needs, budget, and lifestyle considerations. The two most commonly discussed options during our consultations are braces and Invisalign®. So which is right for you?
Traditional braces are small metal or ceramic brackets that are carefully bonded to the teeth and are not removed until orthodontic treatment has been completed. Once the braces are placed, a wire is inserted into a horizontal slot in the middle of the bracket which has been manufactured to precise specifications. These wires need to be changed periodically, usually every 6-8 weeks, so that the forces from the wires remain at an optimal level and the teeth continue to progress toward our end goal.
The main advantage of braces over other forms of orthodontic treatment, such as clear aligners (we’ll talk about those next), is that since they are bonded to your teeth they are working 24/7. That means they are straightening your teeth while you work, sleep, eat, play or talk to your neighbor. In many cases, patients with braces start to notice dramatic changes to their teeth quickly and with very little effort on their part.
The big disadvantage of braces is that it requires much more effort to clean and maintain your teeth. Without proper brushing and flossing, braces can trap food and plaque leading to cavities, enamel scarring, or gingivitis. There are also some foods that must be avoided with braces to prevent the braces from dislodging and coming off of the teeth.
Invisalign® (clear aligners)
Invisalign® is a brand name for a popular form of orthodontic treatment, also known as clear aligners. Clear aligners are custom plastic trays that move your teeth in small, controlled increments similar to the way cartoons are drawn frame by frame. Each set of aligners is worn for 7-14 days, then changed to a new set. With each new set, our patients will feel an increase in pressure on their teeth until the teeth have moved to their new position. Dr. Bloom will periodically monitor your progress to make sure the teeth are moving according to plan and your bite is coming together as it should.
Clear aligners have grown in popularity because they are less noticeable than traditional braces and can be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing. This makes them an excellent choice for patients who have particular concerns about keeping their teeth clean during orthodontic treatment.
However, the major disadvantage of clear aligners is that in order for them to effectively move your teeth they must be in your mouth! For some patients, it can be tempting to leave the aligners out for a portion of the day, which can dramatically decrease treatment efficiency and increase the total treatment time. We recommend that the aligners are worn for approximately 20 hours a day for optimal results, and only removed to eat or to brush and floss your teeth. It is also important to note that for some types of tooth movement, the smooth plastic aligners may have a hard time gripping the teeth and efficiently moving the teeth to their proper position. For that reason, Dr. Bloom places small tooth-colored bumps on the teeth called attachments. These attachments function as little handholds so the plastic has something to grab onto, much like the handholds a rock climber uses to scale a wall. These attachments are usually difficult to see but will be noticeable to the patient's tongue.
Ultimately, the best way to find out which treatment method is best for you is to schedule your complimentary consultation with Dr. Bloom and discuss with him your treatment goals and questions. Call us today at (720) 743-0700. We can’t wait to meet you!