According to the American Association of Orthodontists, nearly everyone has some type of malocclusion, or tooth misalignment. Depending on the severity, it can have a significant impact on your oral and overall health. Malocclusions include:
- Crooked teeth
- Gapped teeth
- Open bite
Orthodontic treatments can resolve these issues, reducing your risk of oral health issues including tooth decay, gum disease, and excessive enamel erosion. The two most popular orthodontic treatments at Diamond Dental are traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners.
In this article, we’ll define orthodontics, as well as explain the differences and similarities between the two most popular orthodontic treatments: traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the area of dentistry focused on diagnosing and treating malocclusions, also known as “bad bite”. These treatments are typically administered by a dental professional known as an orthodontist. These professionals have received an additional 2 to 3 years of training beyond dental school.
Typically, treatment begins in the teen years, after all of the baby teeth have fallen and the permanent teeth have come in. Still, parents should have their children monitored for “bad bite” starting at around age 7.
Since nearly everyone has some type of malocclusion, nearly everyone can benefit from orthodontic treatment. However, it is important to note that there are a few factors that can disqualify patients from orthodontics, including:
- Extensive tooth decay
- Severe gum disease
If diagnosed with these conditions, seek treatment and, once they are under control, orthodontic treatment may be an option. The two most popular orthodontic treatments are traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners.
What are Traditional Braces?
Traditional braces require brackets to be cemented to the teeth with an archwire running between them. The archwire is tightened, which shifts the teeth into their appropriate position within the jaw. Treatment typically takes about 12 to 24 months, though some patients may need up to 36 months. The average cost of traditional braces ranges from around $3,000 to $7,000.
What are Invisalign Clear Aligners?
Invisalign clear aligners are an alternative to traditional braces. This is a system of clear aligners, much like a retainer, that fit snugly against the teeth. The pressure of the aligners on the teeth pushes them into their appropriate position within the jaw. Treatment with Invisalign typically takes about 12 to 18 months. Patients with a very mild misalignment may see results within 6 months- but those with a severe misalignment may need up to 24 months. The average cost of Invisalign clear aligners ranges from around $1,200 to $8,000.
Comparing Traditional Braces vs. Invisalign
Both of these dental treatments are designed to solve a variety of mild to moderate malocclusions. However, there are several differences between the two. Below, we’ll look at some of the similarities and differences to help you decide which is best for you.
|Traditional Braces||Invisalign Clear Aligners|
|Consists of brackets and wires, visible from a distance||Clear plastic aligners, much like a retainer- almost invisible, even at close range|
|$3,000 to $7,000||$1,500 to $8,000|
|Ideal for mild to severe malocclusions||Ideal for mild to moderate malocclusions, can be used for severe cases with attachments and/or additional procedures|
|Must give up foods that are hard, crunchy, sticky||No food restrictions required|
|Must carefully brush around brackets with an interdental brush||Can brush and floss teeth as usual|
|Average treatment time is 12 to 24 months||Average treatment time is 12 to 18 months|
|Not removable, must visit the dentist every few weeks for adjustments||Removable, must visit a few times over the course of treatment to check progress|
Many people are concerned with their appearance, which is why Invisalign clear aligners are such a popular option. Traditional braces are obvious and can be seen even from a distance because they are made up of brackets and wires. There are some options that can make traditional braces less visible, including lingual braces or invisible braces, but they can still be seen.
Invisalign, on the other hand, is a system of clear plastic aligners, much like a retainer. Even when standing close to you, most people won’t notice that you are wearing them.
The cost between the two is comparable. On average, the cost of traditional braces ranges from around $3,000 to $7,000. Invisalign, on the other hand, ranges from around $1,500 to $8,000, depending on several factors including the type and severity of your malocclusion.
Both options can treat a variety of malocclusions. Many times, traditional braces can be used to treat more severe cases of malocclusion. However, attachments- which are composite resin buttons placed on teeth- can be used to expand the ability of the aligners.
Traditional braces can be damaged by foods that are hard, crunchy, or sticky- which means you’ll have to give these up when treating your malocclusion. However, Invisalign aligners are designed to be removed, which means that you don’t have to give up any foods- just make sure to clean your teeth after you eat to remove food debris and avoid damaging your aligners.
When you have traditional braces, bacteria, food debris, and plaque can build up around the brackets. Therefore, you must carefully clean around them with an interdental brush and water flosser. However, Invisalign clear aligners are removable, which means that you can brush and floss your teeth as usual.
You will need to rinse your aligners when you take them out and before putting them back in. Also, you’ll need to clean aligners with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste once daily to remove bacteria, plaque, and food debris.
Treatment time is a major factor for some patients when determining the best option. The average treatment time for traditional braces is 12 to 24 months. However, more severe malocclusions may take up to 36 months.
The average treatment time for Invisalign clear aligners is 12 to 18 months. However, patients with very mild to mild malocclusion may see a resolution within the first 6 months, while those on the more severe end of the spectrum may need up to 24 months.
Invisalign clear aligners are designed to be removed, which makes eating and practicing oral hygiene much more convenient. The brackets and wires of traditional braces can get in the way.
In addition, traditional braces require visits to the dentist every few weeks for adjustment as the teeth shift. You must also visit the clinic after every few aligner changes to check your progress. If necessary, adjustments can be made to your treatment plan. However, if treatment is going as expected, it can continue.
Schedule Your Orthodontic Consultation with Diamond Dental
If you have a malocclusion, schedule your consultation with the professionals at Diamond Dental today. We have two convenient locations to serve you: Mount Vernon and Bellingham. Dr. Senan Najar was elected as a Lifetime Member of the American Orthodontic Society in 2014 and was named an Invisalign Platinum Provider in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
In addition to orthodontics, we offer many other preventive, cosmetic, and restorative procedures for the entire family. We also offer a program called Healthy Start, which is an oral appliance therapy designed to treat the root cause of sleep-disordered breathing.