If you’ve recently discovered that you or your child need orthodontic treatment, you probably have many questions on your mind. You might want to know what caused the issue and how it can be corrected. You may be wondering which treatments are likely to be the most effective, along with how much they cost, and what differences there are between popular options like traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners.
Here at McGrory Orthodontics, we want patients to feel informed and confident about every aspect of their treatment plan. After all, you have a key role to play in the orthodontic process! A great place to start is learning about the variety of treatment options available in our Pearland and Bellaire offices. Braces and Invisalign clear aligners are incredibly popular with patients of all ages, so let’s take a closer look at both of them!
Two solutions = one beautiful smile
Traditional braces have been around in one form or another for centuries, which means they have a long history of successfully straightening smiles. They’re generally composed of metal or ceramic brackets that are affixed to the front surface of your teeth. These brackets are then tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands or elastics. These components will work together throughout the treatment process to gradually move the teeth into the desired positions.
Thanks to recent advancements in modern orthodontics, today’s braces are more comfortable and efficient than ever before. They’re also customizable! Multi-colored brackets and bands are available for patients who want to add a pop of personality to their treatment, while clear or tooth-colored brackets can be used for those who prefer a more discreet look.
The Invisalign system is not a fixed orthodontic appliance like braces, which means no part of the system is directly attached to the teeth. Instead of brackets, bands, and wires, Invisalign uses a series of clear, removable aligners to correct misalignments. These customized trays are made of comfortable plastic material and have small, tooth-colored attachments that allow them to fit snugly over the teeth. Aligners are generally switched out every 1-2 weeks for the next in the series to keep up with the movement of the teeth.
What you need to know about traditional braces
Traditional braces have been around so long for a reason! These orthodontic workhorses are incredibly effective at correcting various oral issues, ranging from mild to complex. They can sometimes be faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than clear aligners like Invisalign, which can shorten the overall treatment time. It’s important to note, however, that there’s no “one size fits all” answer for how long treatment will last. This is decided on a case-by-case basis, but the average tends to be anywhere from 12-36 months.
A good dental hygiene routine is essential for orthodontic patients, but maintaining traditional braces can be challenging, especially in the beginning. Getting the brackets and wires completely clean can be tricky since it’s easy for food debris to get stuck in all the nooks and crannies. This gives bad bacteria a place to flourish and increases the risk of tooth decay and cavities. Fortunately, there are many accessories available that can make cleaning with braces much easier! For example, oral irrigators like a Waterpik use a targeted stream of water to help rinse those hard-to-reach places, and ortho-picks are helpful in flossing with braces.
Food restrictions are one of the biggest learning curves with braces, and they can take some getting used to. To keep your braces and your teeth safe, braces patients need to avoid anything crunchy or chewy until treatment is complete. This includes some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, gum, nuts, and several different types of candy and sweets. Remember, though, that this is only temporary—all that hard work will be worth it once the braces come off and a beautiful new smile is revealed!
Follow-up visits are an essential part of any treatment plan, and braces patients can expect to see Dr. McGrory or Dr. McCarty every 4-8 weeks or so. These visits help ensure you get the best results in the least amount of time, so you don’t want to miss them! During these appointments, she’ll check that everything is progressing as it should be and change the bands that are attached to the brackets. She may choose to replace the wire at this time as well. Some patients experience a bit of soreness after each adjustment, but this is only temporary and will usually resolve on its own after a day or two.
Everything you need to know about Invisalign
Invisalign is our most popular alternative to traditional braces. This innovative system provides patients with a convenient and subtle treatment option that is easier on the mouth than braces but provides the same exceptional results! Patient compliance is a huge factor in how well the system works. Patients must wear the aligners for 20-22 hours each day throughout treatment, and the aligners will need to be switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. Failure to follow these recommendations can affect the final results and lead to longer treatment times.
As with braces, there’s no concrete answer for how long a patient will need to wear the aligners, though the average tends to be somewhere between 1-2 years. The clear aligners are designed to be removed before eating or drinking anything other than water, so there are no food restrictions. Invisalign patients are free to eat everything they usually would! The aligners are also taken out before brushing and flossing, making dental hygiene a much simpler process than it is with braces.
Invisalign patients can expect to have follow-up visits with your orthodontist every 6-8 weeks or so. Skipping or rescheduling these appointments can quickly undo any progress made, especially if the aligners aren’t being changed out on schedule. While Invisalign offers patients an extra measure of flexibility over braces, they do require responsibility and compliance.
Finding the right fit for your smile at McGrory Orthodontics
Braces and Invisalign aligners are both excellent choices for achieving straighter smiles and improved oral health. What works for one patient may not be a good fit for another, however. That’s why it’s so important to work with a qualified and experienced orthodontic team like ours!
When you schedule an orthodontic evaluation with McGrory Orthodontics, we’ll be able to tell you which treatment would be the best fit for your smile, your lifestyle, and your goals. This will give you a beautifully aligned smile that’s just right for you! To learn more about whether braces or Invisalign could work for you, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. McGrory or Dr. McCarty.