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Clear Aligners vs. Traditional Braces

March 21, 2023

Modern orthodontics was introduced to the world in the early 1800s, but it took some time for it to develop. It was in the 1970s when dentists were able to implement corrective treatments to straighten teeth. We are talking about the fixed wire braces, also known as train track braces, that are fixed over the teeth, forcing teeth into a new position.

However, patients began asking for more aesthetically comfortable alternatives, which led to the development of lingual braces – fixed wire braces attached from the back side of the teeth. Still, advances in orthodontics led to the development of the clear aligner dental brace. Here we’ll compare the clear aligner and traditional braces, and we hope to help you understand the advances and possibilities the clear aligner braces can bring to your dental patients.

Clear Aligners Pros

Here are the main advantages that clear aligners bring for both the patient and dentist:

  • Fewer dentist visits – one of the more significant pros of clear aligners is the reduced need for dental visits. Once measured and fitted, the patient does not need to visit the dentist to check everything, as there are no brackets that can detach and no wire to hurt the cheeks.
  • Improved aesthetics – the main pro of clear aligners is improved aesthetics, as these are practically invisible over the teeth. The patient can wear the clear aligner braces easily and comfortably and feel confident about their daily life.
  • Reduced plaque build-up – clear aligners don’t allow plaque build-up, as they cover the entirety of the teeth and help reduce the risk of periodontal issues and gingivitis. Opposed to this, traditional metal braces can have plaque build-up around the braces and can even develop white spot lesions on the teeth.
  • More comfortable for the patient – clear aligners are ultimately more comfortable for the patient, as there are no brackets, braces, and wires to get used to. The patients can also eat what they want and continue with their regular cleaning routine, as they can remove the aligner, eat their meal, clean the teeth, and place the clear aligner over the cleaned teeth. There is no removal of the traditional train track braces, and the patient needs to get used to the new setup and learn how to eat and clean the teeth with the permanent braces attached to their teeth.
  • Easier for the dentist to create – creating a clear aligner brace needs only one dental visit to measure for the clear aligner, as this is now done with a digital intraoral scanner. Once the measurements are taken, and the treatment plan is set, the clear aligners are created in a high-tech dental lab. Then, the patient comes and gets their clear aligners, and they can go about their life. On the other hand, fitting and adjusting the traditional braces requires several dentist visits and regular checkups to see if the treatment plan progresses as expected.

Clear Aligners Cons

Besides the many advantages of clear aligners, there are some cons related to this orthodontic treatment:

  • The results depend on the patient – for clear aligners to be effective, they must be worn for 22 hours daily. Because these are removable, the patient may forget to put them on for the required time they need to be effective.
  • A more costly option – the clear aligners require several advanced dental techniques to be produced, resulting in higher patient costs. Also, when measuring for clear aligners, the dentist should use an intraoral scanner, a relatively expensive dental tool.

Traditional Braces Pros

Now let’s discuss some of the advantages the traditional train track braces have for both patients and dentists:

  • More affordable equipment – unlike the clear aligners that require advanced and sophisticated technology, nearly every dental practice has the technology to create and install traditional braces.
  • Traditional braces can’t be lost – they are fixed to the teeth and can’t be lost, misplaced, or contaminated simply because they are non-removable.
  • A better option for children – kids who need to get their teeth straightened can benefit more from traditional braces, as these are fixed to the teeth.
  • Better for very complex cases – traditional braces can be more effective for people with very crooked teeth.

Traditional Braces Cons

Now to finish the comparison, here are the cons of the traditional train track braces:

  • A visible and intrusive treatment – the train track braces are highly visible and can be intrusive. Also, many people find it uncomfortable to laugh with traditional braces. Wearing train track braces requires the patient to give up some foods, as they can cause problems with the braces.
  • Scheduled monthly visits –traditional braces require regular monthly visits to check the progress and effectiveness of the treatment. It can negatively affect the dental practice revenue because the monthly checkups are usually included in the traditional braces price.
  • Dental assistance for cleaning and maintenance – the traditional train track braces require dentists’ assistance to thoroughly clean and maintain teeth health. It can be challenging for the patient and time-consuming for the dentist, as they will spend extra time on a patient who has paid for treatment.

Which is Better: Clear Aligners or Traditional Braces?

Now that we’ve outlined the pros and cons of the clear aligners and the traditional train track braces, let’s conclude the text by trying to answer the central question: which is better?

Unfortunately, we can’t provide a 100% specific answer to this as these two treatments are very different and used in different cases. For example, clear aligners are more effective in aligning and leveling arches, fixing intruding anterior teeth, and controlling the vestibular-lingual inclination of teeth. However, these have yet to be used in patients with severe orthodontic problems, as many dentists still recommend the traditional braces to fix very crowded teeth cases and where extrusion of anterior teeth or rotation of teeth is necessary.

The Bottom Line: Clear Aligners are Becoming More Effective Orthodontic Treatment

Knowing the pros and cons of both of these orthodontic treatments, as dentists, it is your job to propose and devise the best treatment plan for each individual dental patient. Patients with severely distorted teeth may require traditional wire braces or even more advanced orthodontic treatments like removing teeth.

On the other hand, if the patient requires fewer teeth adjustments or has mild to moderate crowding, then a clear aligner may be a viable treatment option. Still, we must note that clear aligner treatments are becoming an excellent alternative for traditional braces, especially for people looking for minor corrective treatments.

Please follow our blog for regular updates and news from the fantastic world of dentistry. Please note that our Great lab is a full-service lab providing all orthodontic products, including clear aligners and more. Also, find out how to get the Great intraoral scanner for free if you choose to work with Great.

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