A person’s smile is their introduction to the world, and that is especially true for teens. Healthy, beautiful teeth can give them the best self-image possible during an already difficult age. As a parent, you have several orthodontic options to give your teen this gift of self-confidence. The top two choices are traditional braces or Invisalign. The common question is which is best?
The decision depends on several factors, including personal preferences, the amount of dental re-alignment needed, and budget.
In this article, we will compare braces vs Invisalign (clear aligners) so you can make an informed decision with your teen.
The Basics of Wearing Braces
Over 4 million people in the U.S. wear braces and 75% of these people are teens. Braces may be intimidating at first, but they can be the solution with a lifetime of benefits. Without the intervention of braces, problems like crooked teeth, overbites, spacing problems, and overcrowding can affect your teen for the rest of their life.
The top two orthodontic tools for correcting problems like this are metal braces or clear aligners (the most common brand being Invisalign). For decades, metal braces have been chosen by thousands of families to straighten teeth. The increased demand for a less conspicuous way to accomplish this goal has led to an increased usage of clear aligners.
It’s important to know the pros and cons of both types of braces for your teen. Let’s get into the things to consider.
Orthodontic Treatment With Traditional Braces
Traditional metal braces are the first thing most people think of when discussing braces. They have been used for over 100 years by people of all ages who want to straighten their teeth and improve their smile. And, for those who have a significant crossbite, overbite, or underbite, traditional braces work more effectively than most other orthodontic treatment choices.
These braces have metal brackets that are bonded to each tooth with adhesive and the brackets are connected with wires and small elastics. The system works by increasing the pressure on the bracket wires and periodically changing to smaller elastics. This process then slowly moves the teeth into the desired place. As a way of making this all more palatable to teens, the elastics are made in many different colors for them to personalize their “look.”
Clear ceramic braces are now another option that work similarly to traditional braces. The brackets are less visible and are popular with older teens who are looking for a more discrete choice. In either case, frequent visits to the orthodontist to make adjustments are part of the treatment plan.
Another treatment option is self-ligating braces. These braces utilize a spring-loaded clip on each tooth to keep just the right amount of pressure on the archwires and reduce the need for adjustment by the orthodontist. Self-ligating braces do usually work a little faster than other braces.
As with anything, traditional braces come with their own set of pros and cons for teens.
Pros of Braces for Teens:
- Are effective in correcting severe tooth crowding, misalignment, bite problems, and other orthodontic problems.
- Are very accurate when used to target and adjust specific teeth.
- Can achieve certain types of movements more effectively than aligners.
- There are a variety of colors available for the bracket elastics.
- Will require less self-discipline from your teen compared to aligner treatments.
- Are sometimes less expensive compared to clear aligners.
Cons of Braces for Teens:
- Certain foods will need to be limited or avoided.
- A strict oral hygiene routine needs to be followed.
- Regular in-office wire and elastic adjustments can cause temporary mouth pain.
- Brackets can accidentally come off teeth, leading to another visit to the orthodontist’s office.
- Teeth may be discolored after braces are removed.
Now that you know more about traditional braces, it’s time to compare them with Invisalign which is an effective system of clear plastic aligners.
Orthodontic Treatment with Invisalign for Teens
Since 1997, 2.4 million patients have used the Invisalign system of clear aligners to straighten teeth. Teens are the largest group of people being treated with Invisalign because the aligners are nearly invisible. The system doesn’t include any brackets or metal of any kind, with the succession of plastic aligners using consistent, gentle pressure to move the teeth.
Initially, the Invisalign system was approved only for adults and older teens but today new orthodontic developments have made treatment with Invisalign available for all teens.
As treatment progresses, the patient wears each aligner approximately 22 hours every day for one to two weeks and then switches to a new aligner. The complete length of treatment varies based on the amount of adjustment needed overall, but the average is 12 to 18 months. The success of the treatment, and often the duration, depends on how well the patient follows directions as instructed by their orthodontist.
Pros of Invisalign Clear Aligners for Teens:
- Are nearly invisible when being worn, offering a more discreet alternative to traditional metal braces.
- Can be removed when eating or cleaning teeth.
- No dietary changes are needed during treatment.
- Fewer office visits will be needed compared to traditional braces.
- Are custom-fitted for the patient throughout the treatment process.
Cons of Invisalign Clear Aligners for Teens:
- Cannot be used to treat severe cases of misalignment or bite problems.
- Must be worn 22 hours a day, so proper compliance with the aligners is crucial.
- Teeth must be brushed and flossed thoroughly every time after eating and before putting the aligners back in.
- Sometimes more expensive than traditional braces.
Bernstein Orthodontics Can Help You Make the Right Decision Between Braces vs Invisalign for Your Teen
As you can see, there are some positives and negatives to consider when it comes to the top two options in orthodontic treatment for your teen. Traditional braces have been used for many years with good results. But, since the development of Invisalign, using clear aligners to correct alignment problems has taken over the top spot in types of braces for many people.
By comparing the pros and cons of traditional braces vs Invisalign, along with discussions with us here at Bernstein Orthodontics in Cary, NC, you can make the best decision for your teen to help them get the smile that they deserve. Contact us today with any questions you may have and to set up a consultation.