Taking the first step towards a straighter smile is a big decision, and it’s common to approach orthodontic treatment with a long list of questions. At Embrace Orthodontics, we recognize how important it is to be informed about the treatment process and aim to educate every potential patient about the choices available to them. With locations in Cambridge, Pine City, and Lindstrom, we are well-positioned to help you achieve the confident smile you’ve been looking for by recommending the best treatment for your specific needs! Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of our two most popular options below.
The basics of orthodontic treatment
Before we get into the specifics of braces and aligners, it’s a good idea to go over the basics of how orthodontic treatment works. Although they look very different, both are designed to move the teeth into more optimal positions over time by placing gentle pressure on them.
Traditional braces have been used for a very long time, and have a well-established history of successfully correcting a variety of orthodontic issues. Invisalign is a newer treatment option, and has only been in widespread use for the last twenty years or so. However, it’s exploded in popularity with both orthodontists and patients! Braces and clear aligners are both excellent options for anyone looking to improve their smile, but there are some important differences between them.
All about treatment with braces
Traditional braces consist of metal brackets that have been attached to the front surface of the teeth, then held together by wires and tiny rubber bands. Modern braces are more stylish and comfortable than ever before, and are especially efficient for treating cases that are more severe or complex.
Every patient responds to braces in their own way, so the treatment time will always vary from case to case. However, the average time spent in braces tends to be anywhere from 18-36 months. Metal braces will often produce slightly noticeable movement of the misaligned teeth within a relatively short period of time, which can be a boost of self-confidence and get patients excited about the process!
Traditional braces can come with a bit of a learning curve, particularly when it comes to brushing and flossing. Navigating the nooks and crannies created by the wires and brackets can be difficult, but with a little patience, this new dental hygiene routine will become second nature in no time! There are also a variety of accessories available to make this process easier, like water piks to help rinse those areas that are hard to reach and ortho picks for flossing with braces.
Food restrictions can be one of the more frustrating parts of being a braces patient. Crunchy and sticky foods can damage the brackets and wires, so these need to be avoided until treatment is complete. That means avoiding common snacks like raw apples and carrots, popcorn, chips, and certain types of candy. Remember: these restrictions are only temporary. They’ll be more than worth it once the braces come off and your beautiful new smile is revealed!
Patients wearing braces can expect follow-up visits with us every 6-8 weeks or so. Dr. Sievers or Dr. Van Vooren will ensure treatment is progressing as it should be and will also change the bands attached to the brackets. They may choose to replace the wire as well. These adjustment appointments are usually pretty quick, but they’re an essential part of the treatment process.
Information on Invisalign aligners
The Invisalign system uses clear, removable aligners to straighten the teeth. They’re made of a smooth plastic material and designed to fit snugly but comfortably over the patient’s own teeth. These trays don’t tend to irritate the gums or cheeks the way some brackets and wires can, and they’re extremely easy to maintain!
Invisalign aligners should be taken out before eating or drinking anything other than water, so patients don’t have to worry about food getting stuck in between the brackets and wires, which is a leading cause of bacteria and decay. They’re also meant to be removed before brushing and flossing, making dental hygiene a much quicker process. Removability also means no food restrictions! Patients will be able to eat all the same things they’re used to while undergoing treatment.
Like braces, it’s hard to estimate exactly how long a patient will need to be in aligners, but the average tends to be anywhere from 9-18 months. The total treatment time will also depend on patient compliance. Those wearing aligners will need to remember to keep them in for at least 20-22 hours every single day and switch them out every 1-2 weeks for the next in the system. Failure to do so can lead to a longer treatment time and less optimal results.
Invisalign patients will also be expected to attend follow-up visits, though they may be slightly more spaced out than those in braces. Skipping appointments or missing scheduled aligner changes can quickly undo any progress made in treatment, so they’re still an important part of any treatment plan.
Find the best fit for you at Embrace Orthodontics
Braces and clear aligners have a lot to offer patients looking to improve their oral health! Working with experienced orthodontists like Dr. Sievers and Dr. Van Vooren, you’ll be able to determine which method is the best fit for your unique smile, lifestyle, and goals. If you’re in the Cambridge, Pine City, or Lindstrom area and would like to learn more about how our treatment options can transform your smile, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation! Our expert team will help you find the most effective solution for a smile that looks great and feels good, too.