Rather than regularly visiting your orthodontist every 3-10 weeks to get rubber bands replaced and wires tightened, with clear braces, you’re given multiple sets of aligners that each gradually shift your teeth. With a design similar to that of clear retainers, clear braces are molded to fit over your teeth, making them much less noticeable than traditional braces.
Another added benefit is the ability to easily remove them when brushing, flossing, or eating. Upon first seeing clear braces, you may be wondering to yourself, how are these going to straighten my teeth?
As it turns out, applying even just a small amount of pressure to a tooth will cause it to shift in the direction of the pressure. This is why each set of aligners will feel snug at first, only to start fitting more naturally as the teeth complete the shifting phase (usually 2 weeks for each aligner).
With each progressive set of aligners, the teeth are slowly shifted over time until they reach the desired position. Depending on the severity of the alignment issue, clear braces may be used for as little as 8 months or as long as 18 months.
At our office, we proudly offer our patients the world’s leading brand of clear braces, Invisalign.
How Clear Braces Are Made
Because clear braces are so different from traditional, metal braces, the process used to make them is quite different as well. Below, we’ve outlined the way Invisalign trays are made from start to finish.
The first step used to create your very own custom set of Invisalign trays is getting a detailed map of your mouth and teeth with the use of x-rays, pictures, and impressions. Your dentist may opt to use all three just to ensure the lab has sufficient data to build the 3-D molds.
Once Invisalign’s lab has all of the needed information, their technicians begin generating a 3-D model of your mouth. With this, they can work hand in hand with your dentist and run simulations to come up with the best treatment plan.
Working backward, the teeth are generally set to the desired final position, after which, the Invisalign technicians can determine the steps needed to get them there. At this stage, it’s also common for the dentist to meet with the patient and present available treatment options before manufacturing begins.
Once given the okay, Invisalign technicians use Align technology to take the simulations and produce customized, individual aligners for each stage of the treatment. Using a specialized material that was designed with patient comfort in mind, each aligner is carefully inspected and custom trimmed to fit your teeth and gumline perfectly.
After treatment begins, it’s easy for your dentist to monitor progress and contact the lab for adjustments to future aligners as you work through the treatment.
Clear Braces vs. Traditional Braces
Even though clear braces were first developed with adult patients in mind, advancements in technology have made them an available option for teenagers as well. With popularity quickly overtaking traditional, metal braces, in this section, we’re going to take a detailed look at how clear braces stack up against their normal counterparts.
Without a doubt, one of the main reasons patients opt for clear braces is because of their reduced visibility. Whether you’re an adult or a teenager, the idea of having extremely noticeable metal brackets and wiring attached to your teeth isn’t something most patients are eager to introduce into their lives.
Even though the ultimate outcome will make their smile more attractive, most patients experience some level of anxiety and embarrassment with traditional braces. This is especially true with adult patients where it’s not as widely accepted to have braces as it is if you’re a teenager.
Clear braces are able to provide the same treatment as traditional braces without taking away from the aesthetics of your smile. This greatly helps to boost comfort and confidence levels since most people won’t even be able to tell you’re wearing them. On the other hand, some younger patients still prefer traditional braces due to the variety of colored bands that can be used to customize the look.
Another one of the main benefits of clear braces is their ability to be removed with ease by the wearer. With traditional braces, metal brackets are glued to the teeth using a special bonding agent, making them almost impossible to remove without the assistance of your dentist.
One drawback of traditional braces is the restrictions they place on certain foods over the course of the treatment. It’s not uncommon for your dentist to recommend avoiding sticky foods, sugar, popcorn, hard foods, and even certain vegetables since they can get stuck in your teeth and difficult to reach due to the brackets and wires.
In fact, keeping up with a thorough dental hygiene routine becomes much more complicated with traditional braces since you have to spend extra time working around the fixtures, especially when flossing. With clear braces, none of this becomes a problem since you can easily remove your aligners when eating or cleaning your teeth.
3. Comfort & Health
Even though traditional braces are designed to minimize discomfort during treatment, having metal hardware in your mouth can be a somewhat unpleasant experience. Until your mouth gets used to the metal brackets, it’s not unusual for sores to occur as a result of rubbing during regular, everyday activities.
The most common culprit is metal wiring used to connect all of the brackets, which can sometimes protrude and scratch the sides of the mouth. With traditional braces, it’s also possible for a bracket to separate from the tooth, sliding around freely until you’re able to make it to your dentist.
Clear braces, on the other hand, are smooth in nature and align perfectly with the natural curves of your teeth and gums, creating a much more comfortable experience. It’s also much less common for clear braces to experience problems during treatment due to the durable material each aligner is made from.
Lastly, because traditional braces are so intrusive around the teeth and gumline, it’s not uncommon for patients to be at a higher risk for developing cavities or gingivitis. While this ultimately comes down to your dedication and hygiene routine, the removable nature of clear braces makes it much easier to maintain dental health over the course of treatment.
4. Time Investment
While we aim to make a visit to the dentist as enjoyable as possible for all of our patients here at Inland Family Dentistry, we understand that people generally like to get in and out as quickly as possible. Even though both clear and traditional braces require multiple visits before starting treatment, traditional braces are a little more taxing on your time.
Once we have all of the x-rays and scans needed to create your custom aligners, your time in the dental chair has pretty much come to an end. Outside of going back in for a fitting once your first set of aligners come in, generally, you won’t be spending lengths of time at the dentist.