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Braces vs. Clear Aligners: Understanding Your Options for Straighter Teeth

Braces vs. Clear Aligners: Understanding Your Options for Straighter Teeth

When we think of straight teeth, most of us assume that it is only a cosmetic treatment and if you are not concerned about the way your teeth look then no treatment is necessary.  According to the American Association of Orthodontics, 50-75% of Americans can benefit from having orthodontic (straight teeth) treatment. What does this mean? It means that having straight teeth is just a cosmetic treatment, but having straight teeth will help with the basic functions of teeth. It will be easier to maintain good oral hygiene, prevent future cavities and periodontal disease (gum disease), help you chew your food better which leads to a healthy mouth and improved quality of life.

These days there are options when it comes to choosing a treatment to straighten your teeth. The more traditional way that you are used to or have heard of is the metal brackets/braces. But, what about those clear aligners that you have seen on TV? How to choose between these two options and how do you know what is best for you? We will provide some information about these two treatment options that will help you make a decision and if you are still unsure about them, feel free to call Modest Dentistry where one of our dentist in Phoenix AZ  can discuss your smile goals and will help you get there.

First and foremost, keep in mind that which treatment is right for you will depend on the severity of each case and proper diagnosis. Without an accurate diagnosis, it will be difficult to plan the case and treatment which can lead to inaccurate results. While this article will give you some information about these two treatment options, a consultation appointment is highly recommended before starting treatment. These two different treatment options will be based on factors like cosmetic, convenience, cost, compliance and ability to maintain good oral hygiene.

Understanding Braces:

Majority of the problems with your occlusion (bite) can be corrected with braces, this is a more traditional option that has been around for decades. This treatment is usually done by a specialist, an orthodontist. The new technology has made advances in the braces and now they come in different models such as: stainless steel, tooth colored ceramic and even gold colored.

While there are options (as mentioned above) with braces, the majority of these will be visible (bracket and the rubber bands). Some cases might qualify for having these brackets placed on the lingual side (inside of the mouth instead of the front surface of a tooth), the other elements being used will be visible. These brackets are also affixed to your teeth through the treatment, which means you cannot remove them yourself unless they come off while you are eating something sticky. There is also some discomfort associated with this treatment, during the initial placement of these brackets which is usually a shorter-term problem. Once you get used to them being in your mouth, they do not cause much irritation after. One of the biggest challenges with brackets is oral hygiene due to food getting stuck on them. Lastly, since these brackets are affixed to teeth, we must make sure of our diet that these brackets do not break or come off. We need to avoid sticky, crunchy and chewy food to prevent this problem.

Understanding Clear Aligners:

While braces can treat the majority of the problems, clear aligners have some limitations with what we can treat, and usually more severe cases will take longer in clear aligners compared to braces. Unlike traditional braces, clear aligner can be treated by your family dentist in Phoenix at Modest Dentistry. Clear aligners are like a mouth guard, they are made out of a thin plastic that will go over your teeth. Wearing these aligner trays will put gentle pressure on your teeth which will cause them to slightly move.

Compared to braces, these are cosmetic options because they are clear in nature and make it invisible over your teeth. Because these aligners are not affixed to your teeth, you have control over them and can remove them when needed. This can be one of the advantages, but it can also be a disadvantage since they are not affixed to your teeth. Advantage of this option is that you can remove them to eat, brush and floss. On the other hand, the disadvantage is compliance becomes important here. You need to wear these aligners as prescribed (usually 20-22 hours a day). Because they are removable, they can be easily misplaced, lost or damaged. Next is the discomfort associated with this treatment option. Some cases might need attachments (teeth colored buttons that will be affixed to the front surface of the tooth), there might be initial discomfort which is short-term and easily managed. This option makes maintaining oral hygiene a lot easier compared to braces because they are removable. It is recommended that you only drink water while having these aligners in your mouth and that for anything else (any other type of drink and/or food) you remove them.


Having straight teeth is not only an esthetic option and this will help you with your overall oral health and quality of life. While braces are more traditional options, they are not an aesthetically pleasing option but require less compliance. Clear aligners are a great option for young adults or anyone who is seeing more of an aesthetically pleasing option but compliance is the most important factor. . We did not mention the cost for these two options because depending on geographic location cost can vary.  Other factors like dental insurance and the severity of the case, treatment cost can vary from patient to patient. Modest dentistry is proud to offer free consultation to consider your options before signing up for treatment.

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