Orthodontics can be a major source of angst for teenagers and adults alike. The cost of straight teeth is painful for both the mouth and the bank account, and a metal smile is not exactly “in style.” For these reasons, many patients weigh the pros and cons of considering braces at all. Recently, more and more people are choosing Invisalign, the less noticeable alternative to metal braces, as their orthodontic treatment.
You might be thinking, “Why is having straight teeth even important?” According to the American Dental Association, straight teeth can significantly improve your oral and, consequently, overall health. Crowded teeth can contribute to gum inflammation and over-spaced teeth lead to gum exposure, which increases the likelihood of periodontal disease.
Traditional Metal Braces
Braces are the most reliable treatment for straightening teeth. Metal braces are quicker at achieving a straight smile, because they aren’t being removed. Braces can also be made with various materials like ceramic or clear plastic to increase their attractiveness. In some cases, braces can be applied to the inside of the teeth so that they are hardly noticeable.
With braces, special flossing threaders are required to weave the floss underneath the metal wires to reach in between teeth. As a result of this difficulty, food is more likely to become trapped in between teeth, causing irritation and increased plaque and bacteria. This can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
For braces, a patient must see an orthodontist but some general dentists are expanding their practices to include Invisalign fittings. However, many only consider Invisalign as an alternative to braces for the cosmetic perks. The procedure is attractive for adults and teens who are conscious of their smiles and don’t want to be taken less seriously.
Invisalign involves clear plastic aligner trays that when worn, and changed out every two weeks, straighten teeth much like metal braces, but without the brackets and wire tightening. Because Invisalign allows you to remove the retainer, it’s easier to maintain healthy brushing and flossing habits. The smooth plastic is also less likely to cause irritation to your gums than metal braces will.
Invisalign trays must be changed out every two weeks, and require a patient to be fitted for snugger trays each time. Depending on a patient’s need, this could lengthen the time it takes to achieve a straighter smile. Invisalign patients commonly remove their straightening trays before and during eating and drinking. This allows the teeth time to move back to their old positions and slows the straightening process.
Both traditional braces and Invisalign are effective at treating teeth crowding and spacing issues, crossbite, underbite and overbite. The procedures straighten out your teeth and cost an average of $5,000. When making the decision of which way to go, it’s important that patients have realistic expectations for both the process and its results. Sometimes, additional work is required to achieve a perfectly healthy smile.