The differences between braces and clear aligners can be rather significant and, for this reason, they need to be taken into consideration. From the time it takes to see the results, the cost of both, or even the risks, there are important differences between braces and clear aligners.
Braces and clear aligners are a great way to straighten out your smile. However, sometimes you can have the same problem but in a different place. Braces are also made to fit over a period of time so they can move out of position during treatment and still allow for easy clean up. Clear braces are no different. They only take a little time to get used to but will stay in place as long as you want.
A research by Colgate revealed that Metal Braces tend to be more effective clear aligners when it comes with teeth with overcrowding. In addition, the same research shares that braces are cheaper than aligners. But what about the other types of braces, and the other factors?
In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the differences between braces and clear aligners. From the overall experience to their costs and even the risks associated, we’ve got you covered.
1. Effectiveness Between Braces and Clear Aligners
When comparing the effectiveness between braces and clear aligners, there are a few important things you have to consider. In fact, both have different characteristics, strength, and therefore, a different effectiveness.
According to the National Institutes of Health, both braces and clear aligners are effective to treat malocclusion. However, they noted a difference between both. First, aligners were better in terms of movement of teeth as well as providing a shorter treatment duration.
On the other hand, braces are more effective when it comes to producing a matching occlusal contact point, which means providing a better match between the top and the bottom arch. Additionally, braces are better in terms of retention, and that’s definitely something to consider.
Another point regarding the effectiveness of both is that some dentists and orthodontists prefer to use braces for patients that require more extensive treatment.
Braces can be used for long term treatments such as braces on the bottom of your teeth. Braces can also be used for patients who need short-term treatments. If you are planning to wear the braces, it is important to ensure that you are comfortable with the look and fit of the braces before you make a decision about buying the braces.
While aligners tend to be esthetically more beautiful, they need to be worn for 22 hours a day. So essentially, you’ll be taking them off only for eating and brushing.
In some cases, however, your orthodontist might recommend you to wear braces since they are overall more effective for complex or severe dental conditions.
To conclude, braces tend to be more effective for complex situations than clear aligners, and the results are usually more visible. Though, bear in mind that you’ll wear braces for a longer period of time compared to aligners.
2. Cost of Braces VS Cost of Clear Aligners
The difference in price between the cost of braces versus the cost of clear aligners is a great debate amongst the patients as they both are meant to correct the alignment of the teeth. Though they are used for the same purpose and by the same people, there are major differences in the prices.
There are few factors which can be taken into consideration while comparing the costs. The first factor is the amount of time required to complete the treatment and the second is the level of skill required to perform the treatment.
For instance, if your teeth suffer from severe issues, the cost will increase significantly, as well as the length of the treatment. Another example is if you have an overbite. In this case, it will take longer to straighten your teeth and, therefore, the cost will increase.
Having said that, however, the average price for braces will range between $1800 and $5500. On the other hand, clear aligners can range from $1800 and go up to $8000, depending on the brand used and dental conditions.
Last but not least, both braces and clear aligners are covered by most health insurance companies. While this is a benefit not to underestimate, we highly recommend you to check with them before starting the procedure.What We Recommend: 8 Best Home Teeth Aligners to Straighten Your Teeth the Right Way
3. Experience and Comfort – Braces VS Clear Aligners
If you are comparing the overall differences between braces and clear aligners, you’ll probably want to go for the one that provides the best experience and comfort. There are four main types of braces that you can choose from: full-ceramic, ceramic, and traditional metal. Of course, all of these braces will have their own pros and cons.
Invisible clear aligners will give you the most comfortable experience. They are removable and can be taken off to be cleaned or replaced. Also, they do not need any special aligner to align your teeth. However, there is some discomfort when removing and replacing clear aligners.
Another point to highlight is that cleaning your teeth with braces is much more challenging than with aligners. In fact, while you can simply remove the aligners to eat and brush your teeth, braces are constantly stuck on them and make the experience less pleasant.
When talking about the overall experience between both devices, we need to mention the diet. To start with, your diet will not be impacted if you choose to go with aligners. You simply remove them when it’s lunch or dinner time, and put them on again after brushing your teeth.
However, on the other hand, you’ll need to adjust your diet if you wear braces. You will need to avoid sugary snacks for the treatment to work at its best. In addition, hard foods are also your enemy since it can cause the braces to break.
Lastly, and according to a research by the National Health Institutes, patients using clear aligners feel less pain the first few days after finishing their treatment, compared to the ones wearing braces. However, no differences in terms of pain were observed in the longer term.
To sum this up, the overall experience and comfort is more “enjoyable” with aligners than with braces. Aligners are less visible, you won’t need to modify your diet, and they will not rub against your cheeks and lips. Braces are less pleasant to wear but they are more recommended for complex cases.
Are Clear Aligners Bad for Your Teeth?
While braces are generally and proven to be safe, clear aligners are more recent and there is less research about them. In fact, in general, orthodontics is a complicated medical field.
As a whole, clear aligners aren’t bad nor risky if a proper and professional treatment is followed. However, in case you have an existing severe dental condition, aligners can do more bad than good. In this case and in the longer term, wearing aligners can cause even bigger issues like jaw pain or even tooth loss.
A point to mention is that mail ordered clear aligners have become very popular. While these are much cheaper compared to visiting an orthodontist and getting a proper treatment, the associated risks are higher.
4. How Long Does the Treatment for Braces and Clear Aligners Last?
If you do not need to see immediate results, you may want to look into braces rather than clear aligners. Sure, it might take years to finish the treatment with braces, however, you’ll be able to experience much straighter teeth after a few months.
As a general rule of thumb, the average length for braces to straighten teeth is between 6 months to 2 years. Of course, it can take longer than that in some situations and depending on the dental health.
On the other hand, the average treatment with aligners is generally shorter. According to the popular clear aligners brand Invisalign, the treatments take on average 12 to 18 months. Obviously, every patient is different and only your orthodontist can give a clear answer to how long the treatment will last and when the results will be visible.
While both the braces and clear aligners treatments can take a long time to finish, you’ll see initial results pretty quickly. You’ll see the initial straightening results within only a few weeks with aligners, and as quickly as 2 months with braces.Read More: How Long Do Braces Take to Straighten Teeth?
5. Risks Associated – Braces VS Clear Aligners
What are the risks associated with braces and with clear aligners? Well, it depends. Both devices have different associated risks, let’s separate them both, to make things clearer.
Q: Risks Associated to Braces
There are several risks associated with wearing braces. While they’re generally very safe to use, it’s important to take into consideration the full product and all the drawbacks. According to Mayo Clinic, the most common risks associated with braces are:
- Losing dental mineral
- Gum diseases like, for instance, gingivitis or even periodontitis
- Experimenting shorter length of dental root
- Loss of gain correction
As you can see, braces aren’t risk-free. While it’s the best and most recommended way to straighten teeth, we couldn’t recommend enough checking all the options and possibilities with your orthodontist and dentist before starting the procedure.
Q: Risks Associated to Clear Aligners
Just like with braces, the associated risks with clear aligners do exist. First of all, clear aligners such as Invisalign can impact the teeth vitality. For instance, and in rare occasions, the tooth nerve can get damaged and, therefore, will need some restorative work or even the need of a root canal.
According to the National Institutes of Health, another important risk associated with wearing aligners is that you might experience tooth resorption. This means that you could notice dentin loss as well as cementum. This can mostly happen with treatments lasting 30 months or more.
Last but not least, the patient might experience allergic reactions. For this reason, it is better to check with the orthodontist before starting the treatment.
To sum up, we recommend wearing clear aligners only if you need a limited treatment or if you have a pre-existing condition such as periodontal disease. For more severe dental conditions, braces are certainly the option to look into.
Q: Are Aligners as Good as Braces?
Given all the risks and all factors considered, are aligners as good and as effective as braces? For patients that do not have severe conditions, braces are certainly more recommended.
However, for patients with average dental conditions, both are good options to straighten teeth. The biggest differences between both braces and clear aligners are probably the cost and the duration.
Q: Has anyone lost weight with braces?
This is probably one of the most unexpected risks and side effects of wearing braces. In fact, yes, many patients experienced weight loss with braces. As mentioned earlier, you need to adjust your diet when starting your treatment.
You will need to avoid hard to chew foods as well as sugary snacks, and that’s the main reason you might lose weight. Of course, this could be a positive side for many patients. But if you are anorexic, you might need to add supplements to your diet in order to remain healthy.
The Bottom Line
These were the main differences between braces and clear aligners that you needed to know. From the overall cost of treatment to their effectiveness or even the duration, you’re covered.
With all these points covered, as well as the associated risks, is there a clear winner between both? Well, it all depends on your current dental health. If your dental condition is average and you don’t mind spending a little more, clear aligners are probably the best option.
But, if you suffer from a more severe condition, braces are more likely the right option for you. If you’re interested in starting a new treatment for your teeth, start wearing braces, or invest in a clear aligner, we recommend getting in touch with your orthodontist or dentist. They will be able to come up with an appropriate procedure for you.