A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear. Indeed, everyone loves a beautiful smile. In fact, latest studies show that people with straighter teeth are more likely to be happier, more likely to land a job, and more likely to be successful. With the advancement of dental technology, new and improved ways have been introduced for straightening malaligned teeth.
Below is a table giving a brief summary of the various methods used by dentists to straighten teeth:
Ways to Straighten Teeth
Traditional Metal Braces
Metal Braces consist of stainless steel brackets attached to each tooth using a cement. The brackets are linked to each other with a thin archwire which puts pressure on the teeth to move it into the correct position.
The archwires are connected to the brackets using tiny elastics known as ligatures or O-rings, which your dentist will change on each visit. Different types of archwires are used with traditional braces like the Nickel-Titanium (Ni-Ti) and Stainless steel. The width, as well as the material of the archwire, determine the force which is exerted on the teeth.
What are the Pros of Traditional Braces?
- Cost-effective – Traditional braces are among the most cost-effective options for correcting tooth malalignment.
- Time-tested – Traditional braces are quite reliable and are being used by dentists throughout the world for many years.
- Suitable for all Cases – Traditional braces can be used for all types of cases, even the most complex ones.
What are the Cons of Traditional Braces?
- Uncomfortable – Traditional braces are quite uncomfortable to wear and can injure the oral soft tissues.
- Conspicuous – They are also the least aesthetic among all orthodontic treatment options due to their metallic appearance.
- Difficult Oral Hygiene Maintenance – Since the braces tend to trap food easily, they require proper meticulous oral hygiene maintenance to prevent teeth cavities and periodontal problems.
- Dietary limitations – Sticky and hard foods must be avoided, as they can dislodge the braces.
Damon Braces (or other self-ligating braces)
This type of braces is more popular among dentist because it provides gentler treatment and requires fewer dental visits. Damon braces are self-ligating and use a slide mechanism instead of elastics to connect the archwires. Damon braces use a wire which maintains a shape memory. This archwire fits into the bracket with a slide mechanism and does not require ligatures, unlike conventional braces.
These braces produce faster results because the teeth can move on their own without needing to be adjusted frequently. This causes less friction and pressure on the teeth, so movement is less painful. Such braces are also easier to keep clean.
What are the Pros of Damon Braces?
- Improved Comfort – Damon braces are supposedly more comfortable than traditional braces.
- Improved Esthetics – Damon braces provide better esthetics as compared to the conventional braces, as they are less conspicuous.
- Faster Results and Fewer Visits – In addition, their self-ligating mechanism allows for achieving faster treatment results. In addition to the reduced treatment duration, they also require fewer dental visits.
What are the Cons of Damon Braces?
- Higher Cost of Treatment – Damon braces have a higher cost of treatment in comparison to conventional braces.
Ceramic Braces are an esthetic alternative to conventional braces. They are the same shape as metal braces and are less noticeable as they are tooth colored. The archwires used with the ceramic braces are also coated with a tooth-colored material to improve esthetics. Since these braces are less visible to others, they are a popular choice for adults. However, patients wearing such type of braces occasionally find their brackets getting stained more easily.
What are the Pros of Ceramic Braces?
- Esthetics – Ceramic braces provide much better aesthetic than the metal and Damon braces.
What are the Cons of Ceramic Braces?
- Fragility – Ceramic braces are less robust than the metal braces and can break more easily compared to metal braces.
- Potential for Staining – Ceramic braces require increased dietary restrictions to avoid staining the brackets (e.g. staining foods, like coffee, tea, and curry).
Invisalign (Clear Aligners)
Invisalign is a type of removable clear aligner that you can use instead of metal or Damon braces. This orthodontic system involves a range of clear plastic aligners that resemble mouth guards, and are custom-made for each patient. Your dentist will give you a set of aligners (upper and lower aligners) which will be worn for 1-2 weeks.
Afterward, a new set of aligners will be provided to you which will continue to move your teeth in the required direction. Each new aligner shifts your teeth one step closer to its ideal position. This process continues until the desired results have been achieved. Each set of aligners must be worn for a minimum of 22 hours in a day to provide optimal results.
What are the Pros of Invisalign?
- Excellent Esthetics – Virtually invisible since they are made from a transparent material.
- Convenience – Invisalign aligners are quite comfortable to wear as they are custom-made for each patient. Also, since they are removable, they are convenient to use as you can remove them while eating.
- Improved Oral Hygiene – Easier to maintain oral hygiene as the aligners can be removed when you brush your teeth or floss.
- Enjoy all your Favorite Foods – With Invisalign aligners, there is no restriction on what you can eat.
What are the Cons of Invisalign Aligners?
- Expensive – The cost of treatment for Invisalign is much higher than other orthodontic treatment options.
- Results Dependent on Patient Compliance – Very reliant on patient’s compliance for ideal results.
- Fewer Treatment Options – Invisalign aligners are a less ideal treatment for very complex malalignment, unless with the aid of some auxiliaries like sectional braces or micro-implants.
Lingual braces are metal brackets attached to the back of your teeth and work in a similar way to the conventional braces i.e. by using archwires. Since they are not visible during speaking or smiling, they have become one of the most aesthetic ways to straighten teeth. They are however the most expensive among all orthodontic treatment options, due to the difficulty in attaching these brackets to the inner side of teeth. Similarly, the adjustments are also more complicated due to the difficult positioning of the brackets.
What are the Pros of Lingual Braces?
- Invisible – Lingual braces are totally invisible as they are attached to the inner surfaces of the teeth.
- Improved Self-esteem – They also provide improved self-confidence, as you retain your natural smile and looks.
What are the Cons of Lingual Braces?
- Expensive – These are the most expensive type of braces
- Not Recommended for Complex Cases – And not ideal for very complex cases. Difficult to clean.
- Uncomfortable – May cause ulcerations and abrasions especially on the tongue.
What’s the right choice for you- Braces or Invisalign?
All the above methods will be able to give you the perfect smile you always wanted. However, the choice of orthodontic system will depend upon the severity of malalignment as well as your own preference and budget constraints. Therefore, your dentist is the best person to help you decide which option is best for you.
Ultimately we hope that by listing out the pros and cons of all the available orthodontic treatment options, you will be able to make a better decision for acquiring that perfect smile that you deserve!