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Which are better - braces or aligners?

We provide Invisalign Maidstone and traditional metal braces; many of our orthodontic patients have experienced one or both, but we'll expand on that later. One question that we often get asked on social media is whether braces or aligners are a better treatment option. Let's break this down and take a look.

You're probably familiar with the traditional metal brace; it's famous! It works by using an arch wire and brackets which are responsible for transmitting tension to the teeth, slowly correcting tooth position.


The clear aligners are more likely to be new to you, even though they've been around for more than 10 years and have gained notoriety with widespread use in the last 5 due to the fact that they are transparent and quite subtle. You may well have passed somebody wearing one recently and never noticed. They are used in a series, with each aligner worn for about two weeks. They are designed to be patient specific, in that when you put them on they apply pressure to your teeth, coaxing them into new positions for your unique dental presentation.


Their clinical role


Invisalign Maidstone and metal braces are both orthodontic tools, relying on the mobility of teeth and how they can be arranged through the application of constant pressure, but they are not in competition with each other. There are orthodontic issues which can only be resolved with a traditional brace for which aligners would simply be inappropriate. And by the same token, a minor orthodontic misalignment might be satisfactorily treated using an aligner, in which case a full metal brace would be overkill and could cause unnecessary discomfort.


Fitting braces and aligners


Brace fitting and aligner fitting are radically different; braces are installed by an orthodontist or specialist dentist with the intention of them remaining in place for the length of treatment. Aligners can be removed at will, easily taken in and out in order to eat or drink. A regular brace fitting can take over 40 minutes depending on the complexity of the case, with more specialist braces like lingual braces taking much longer, due to the complications of adhering the brackets to the back of the teeth.


An Invisalign Maidstone fitting is much faster and also less invasive, requiring that extremely detailed measurements are made of the patient's mouth. This is most efficiently and quickly performed by using an intraoral scanner, which also means you do not have to experience dental moulds and taste the unpleasant dental paste that accompany them.


The prevailing wind in orthodontics


In the early 90s, clear aligners were viewed with suspicion and considered somewhat gimmicky; they have outgrown this early phase of their adoption into the market. It may be a fact that for our patients who have worn both standard metal braces and aligners there is a strong bias towards aligners, due to the everyday convenience in both their cleaning maintenance and how they feel. However the standard metal brace will continue to find itself being used in orthodontic surgeries while aligners are still incapable of correcting the position of molars and altering pallet size.