So what if you have an option between Invisalign W1 and a metal brace – what’s the better option? What do the orthodontic patients who have experienced both think about them? Here, the daily use and treatment steps are broken down to see how they compare.
Straight to the point, the clear aligners are translucent which allows them to go unnoticed in almost all public settings. If you have a gap in your front teeth, the presence of the aligner will affect your pronunciation and stop any ‘whistling’, but this is usually seen as a good thing by patients. The traditional metal brace doesn’t have the stigma it once did and in many circles, it is just quirky or retro. But it is not subtle and is still seen as infantile by many adults.
What is uncomfortable or not is subjective, but looking at a wide sample, there is a trend towards clear aligners as being more comfortable. This seems to have two elements. The method of clear aligners is to constantly apply pressure to the teeth, coaxing them into new positions; more tolerable than the tightening adjustments performed by an orthodontist using traditional metal braces. The next is the sharp angles and abrasion from a metal brace on the inside of the lips. This can be quite severe causing ulcers in some patients compared to the streamlined fit of a plastic aligner.
Keeping them clean
A large commitment that comes along with braces is keeping them clean, which is not immediately obvious to new patients. You have to eat with metal braces in and there are lots of small areas beneath the archwires in the anchor-points to clean every time you eat. This can be minimised with beverages by using a straw and keeping it close to the back of your mouth while drinking.
A clear aligner is removed while eating and drinking. You still have to brush your teeth after meals before replacing your aligner to stop decay and bacteria being pressed against the enamel, but this is often far more convenient than a standard brace for many people.
What’s a more effective orthodontic tool?
Looking at the clinical effectiveness in isolation, the metal brace has a much longer track record and is used in a wider range of treatments. The BOS (British Orthodontic Society) only considers clear aligners to be effective at treating mild cases, such as spaced teeth and only if it does not involve altering the positions of molars. In addition to this, the BOS recommends the use of clear aligners within dental clinics and under the guidance of a qualified professional, condemning at home only or DIY aligners purchased via the internet.
After a dental assessment or appointment with an orthodontist, if your case can be treated with a clear aligner, it probably should be, as it is the more convenient, comfortable and often cheaper option. As these aligners become less of a novelty item, they will probably replace the metal brace in all mild cases and become the default treatment offered in clinical practice.