Q. What are invisible braces and how do they work? Do they accomplish the same thing as metal braces?
A. Invisible braces, more accurately known as clear aligners, don’t have the brackets and wires of traditional metal braces. Instead, clear aligner therapy consists of a series of clear plastic aligners that are custom-shaped to fit your teeth. Each aligner is worn for 2 to 3 weeks and is shaped slightly different to apply pressure to the teeth in the right places to move the teeth into alignment.
While not for every patient, clear aligner products like Invisalign and ClearCorrect provide an alternative to traditional brackets and wire. Some of the benefits of clear aligners over traditional braces are:
- They are removable – this allows the patient to eat what he/she likes and brush as usual. They can also be taken out for activities like sports and playing instruments
- Comfortable – no wires or brackets against the inside of your mouth
- Virtually invisible – the clear aligners are much less visible than even clear orthodontic brackets
- Makes orthodontic treatment possible for patients wishing to align their teeth who refuse traditional orthodontics
The disadvantages include:
- Patients must fully cooperate with treatment – if the aligners aren’t worn as directed (usually 22 hours a day), the teeth won’t move
- Clear aligners are not ideal for all types of alignment problems
- Must remove for eating- and followed by brushing or flossing before replacing aligners
- Less adaptability – Although there are ways to correct or change treatment mid-course, this often results in more time and expense if changes must be made
The desire for a more beautiful smile is what motivates many patients to seek treatment. Poorly-aligned teeth can, however, produce a number of consequences including: interference with bite function, increased tooth wear, and a higher tendency to develop cavities and periodontal disease. Properly aligning your teeth will improve the esthetics of your smile but will also help protect it for years. And while clear aligners aren’t recommended for all tooth movements, for many, it provides an attractive alternative to traditional orthodontic treatment.
If you’re still reading, you may be wondering if you are a good candidate for clear aligner therapy. Check with your dentist and/or orthodontist to see if clear aligners best fit your wants and needs!
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