Braces vs. Clear Aligners: Are Clear Aligners Equally Effective as Metal Braces?

Written by Dr. Febin Mary George, BDS | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zein El Hammouz, DDS, MFD/RCSI

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Table of Contents 

1. Metal Braces vs. Clear Aligners: Definitions 

2. Metal Braces vs. Clear Aligners: Differences

3. How to choose the best treatment method for you?

4. Why should you choose Eon Aligner?

 

Metal Braces vs. Clear Aligners: Definitions 

Braces and clear aligners are two popular orthodontic approaches that aim to treat misaligned teeth and give you a straight smile. Both methods move the teeth into their desired positions by exerting controlled forces. 

Metal braces

As the name suggests, metal braces involve the use of metal components. Metal brackets are fixed onto the facial surface of your teeth, after which metal archwires are passed through these brackets. 

If you want to make braces more discreet, you can select ceramic brackets that match the color of your teeth. These are referred to as ceramic braces. You can also fix your metal braces on the inner surfaces of your teeth, which are then called lingual braces. 

Teeth aligners

Teeth aligners are removable appliances formed from a clear thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) material that fits snugly around the teeth and brings about the desired tooth movements. 

Image
smiling person with clear aligners versus a smiling person with metal braces

 

Metal Braces vs. Clear Aligners: Differences

The differences between braces vs. clear aligners are listed below:

 

 

Braces

Clear Aligners

Benefits

 
  1. Effective in treating mild to complex cases
  2. Cost is slightly lesser than aligners
  1. Virtually invisible appearance
  2. Equally effective in treating mild to complex cases
  3. Removable, so easy to maintain oral hygiene
  4. No restrictions on what to eat
  5. Comfortable to wear or remove

Challenges

  1. Metallic smile
  2. Dietary modifications need to be made 
  3. Fixed, difficult to maintain good oral hygiene
  4. Uncomfortable; can cause  traumatic ulcers in the mouth
  1. Patient compliance affects treatment outcomes 
  2. Cost is slightly more than braces

 

Procedure

Metal Braces

  1. Your doctor will conduct a complete and detailed examination of the teeth, along with the required X-rays and photographs. 
  2. Based on the findings, a suitable treatment plan is prepared. 
  3. After treatment plan approval, brackets are secured to the teeth with bonding cement. Metal wires are passed through the brackets and are held in place with elastics or ligature wires. 
  4. Monthly follow-up appointments are scheduled to tighten the wires or make the necessary adjustments. 

Clear Aligners

  1. The initial dental examination with clear aligners is similar to that of traditional braces. In most cases, an intraoral 3D scanner is used to obtain a 3D image of the teeth, but impressions can also be taken. 
  2. With the help of these digital scans or impressions, a treatment plan is formulated. After approval of the treatment plan, customized clear aligners are manufactured for the patient. 
  3. Once the aligners are ready, you will be called in for an initial fitting session. Your doctor will give you your aligners and provide you with the necessary instructions. If IPR and attachment placement is required, they will be done as per the treatment plan. You can then change your aligner step every one or two weeks (depending on the case) to progress with the treatment. 
  4. Follow-up appointments are scheduled every couple of months (or more often in complex cases) to check the fit of the aligners and ensure the case is tracking well. 

Material 

Braces: The archwires in traditional braces are made of metals like stainless steel and titanium, whereas brackets can be made of stainless steel or ceramic.4

Clear aligners: Dental aligners are made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), a transparent material that can be easily molded and customized to fit your teeth properly.5

Appearance and color

Metal braces: Braces generally have a dark metallic appearance which looks quite unaesthetic and unappealing to the eye. 

Clear aligners: Clear aligners are virtually invisible as they are made out of transparent plastic material.

Comfort and pain

Metal Braces: With braces, there is a higher chance of causing traumatic ulcers on the inner side of the lips and cheeks. The metal brackets or the loose ends of the wires may rub against the soft tissue making metal braces uncomfortable and sometimes painful to wear. 

Clear aligners: Aligners are made of smooth plastic material, making them highly comfortable to wear.  Individuals may experience some tightness or pressure on the teeth for 1-2 days when they first wear their aligners. But this is only because of the force exerted by the aligners on the teeth. The uneasiness will disappear in a few days as the mouth adjusts to the aligners. 2

 

Image
smiling girl with a clear aligner in her hand next to a laughing girl with perfectly aligned teeth

 

Removability

Metal Braces: They are fixed by the orthodontist and removed only at the end of the treatment. The patient cannot remove it.

Clear aligners: Clear aligners can easily be worn or removed by patients. This makes eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing much easier!

Care, maintenance, and diet

Metal Braces: Taking care of your teeth with metal braces is challenging because you need to use a special toothbrush to clean your teeth without causing any damage to the brackets. 

You should avoid hard and crunchy foods as they may cause wire breakage or detachment of the brackets from the teeth.

Clear aligners: With aligners, taking care of your teeth is effortless.  Every time you need to brush or floss, just take your aligners off and brush as you normally do. In addition, you can have anything your taste buds crave! Just remove your aligners if you are about to have any food or beverage other than water. 

Cleaning your aligners is super simple! Just rinse your aligners with soap and running water. 

Compliance

Metal Braces: As metal braces are fixed, patients cannot remove them at will. 

Clear aligners: The success of clear aligner therapy relies on patient compliance. 

As aligners are removable, there is a high tendency for patients to reduce their wear-time, so always remember to keep your aligners on for a minimum of 22 hours daily. 

Teeth movement

Metal braces: They are great for treating complex orthodontic problems like severe crowding, rotations, or crossbite. 

Clear aligners: Auxiliaries like attachments and elastics have broadened the spectrum of orthodontic cases that clear aligners can correct. With the proper clinical training and expertise, doctors can now treat even complex cases like impacted teeth or severe crowding with the help of auxiliaries. 

Duration and follow-up visits

Metal Braces: Wondering what’s the average time you will wear braces for? Treatment duration with braces generally takes longer than clear aligners, and you will have to come in for monthly appointments, which is a big hassle.

Clear Aligners: On average, clear aligners take anywhere from 8 to 10 months to straighten teeth and require less frequent follow-up visits than braces. So, if your question is, “Are clear aligners faster than braces?”, the answer is yes! Make sure to discuss your case with your orthodontist to get an exact timeline for your treatment.

 

Image
dentist checking a patient's teeth in a dentist consultation

 

Cost

Metal Braces: You can expect the cost of metal braces to be anywhere within the range of $3000 to $7000. The case's complexity and the treatment's severity are a few factors that decide the charges for your treatment with braces.

Clear aligners: The treatment cost with clear aligners can go from $4000-$7400. Minor corrections may need only a few sets of aligners, thereby reducing the overall cost and duration of the treatment. Your Eon-certified doctor would be the best person to determine the actual cost of your treatment. 

 

How Do You Choose The Best Method For You?

 

Treatable cases for each treatment

With the advancing technology, the scope of treatment with clear aligners has widened considerably. Clear aligners have been used successfully in treating cases like3

  • Crowding 
  • Spacing 
  • Open bite
  • Crossbite
  • Deep bite
  • Increased Overjet a  

With the proper training and the help of auxiliaries like attachments and elastics, experienced Eon-certified doctors can correct advanced cases like:

  • Extraction cases
  • Severely rotated teeth 
  • Class II and class III cases

Case selection depends on multiple factors, including the case complexity and the doctor's experience. 

Factors to take into consideration: which is more important to you? 

While braces and clear aligners are both great treatment choices, you can consider a few factors before deciding on the one you want.

  1. Aesthetics- If you are concerned about your appearance, clear aligners would be the right choice for you as it is barely noticeable.
  2. Ease of maintenance- Maintaining oral hygiene is challenging with braces compared to clear aligners. This is one of the biggest perks that clear aligners have in that they can be removed and cleaned with ease.
  3. Expenditure- Consult your health insurance provider to check what percentage of your treatment cost they cover. You can also opt for flexible payment plans offered by many aligner providers. 

You can discuss with your doctor which option works best for you. 

Why should I choose Eon Aligner?

Metal braces and clear aligners are both great treatment options that can take away all your crooked-teeth-woes! Braces give accurate and high-quality results but, unfortunately, compromise facial aesthetics. In comparison, clear aligners make your life easier with numerous benefits like a virtually invisible appearance, easy removal whenever required, and the ability to maintain excellent oral hygiene. 

Here’s how Eon Aligner is a class apart from other generic aligner brands:

  • Experienced orthodontist-led clinical team 
  • Our treating doctors or network of doctors are Certified doctors with expert aligner training and resources
  • Customized treatments plans for each patient
  • In-clinic consultation and follow-up visits
  • Dynamic Attachments for better aligner grip and to increase the predictability of difficult movements 
  • IPR procedures to make space for teeth movements without tooth extractions
  • Free Retainers  depending on the package type 

 

Image
eon aligner dentist's testimonial on the price and successful results of clear aligners

 

As every case is different and demands a different treatment approach, reach out to us, and we will connect you with an Eon-certified doctor to discuss your case. 

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FAQs

1. Can I use aligners instead of braces? 

Yes, you can!  Recent advancement in clear aligner technology and the use of auxiliaries has made it possible to correct a wide range of orthodontic problems. Yet, it is necessary to consult your Eon-certified doctor before you make a decision.

2. Which is better: metal braces or aligners?

Both achieve great teeth straightening results.  But clear aligners are a better option if you are looking for an aesthetic orthodontic solution that is barely noticeable. 

3. What are the advantages of clear aligners over traditional braces?

Clear aligners are nearly invisible, unlike traditional braces that give a metallic appearance. Aligners can also work faster in some cases. They are removable, and the follow-up visits are minimal compared to the traditional braces.

4. Do aligners change face shape?

 No, aligners do not change your face shape or bone structure. They focus on the alignment of teeth and correction of bite issues. The resultant change you see on the face is a gorgeous new smile! 

5. Can aligners push teeth back?

Yes. Aligners can push your teeth back to move them into the correct alignment so that you can have a beautiful straight smile.

 

References

  1. Levrini, L., Mangano, A., Margherini, S., Tenconi, C., Vigetti, D., Muollo, R. and Marco Abbate, G. (2016). ATP Bioluminometers Analysis on the Surfaces of Removable Orthodontic Aligners after the Use of Different Cleaning Methods. International Journal of Dentistry, 2016, pp.1–6. doi:10.1155/2016/5926941.
  2. White, D.W., Julien, K.C., Jacob, H., Campbell, P.M. and Buschang, P.H. (2017). Discomfort associated with Invisalign and traditional brackets: A randomized, prospective trial. The Angle Orthodontist, [online] 87(6), pp.801–808. doi:10.2319/091416-687.1.
  3. turkjorthod.org. (n.d.). Orthodontic Treatment with Clear Aligners and The Scientific Reality Behind Their Marketing: A Literature Review. [online] Available at: https://turkjorthod.org/en/orthodontic-treatment-with-clear-aligners-an… [Accessed 27 Aug. 2022]. 
  4. Scribante, A., Contreras-Bulnes, R., Montasser, M.A. and Vallittu, P.K. (2016). Orthodontics: Bracket Materials, Adhesives Systems, and Their Bond Strength. BioMed Research International, 2016, pp.1–3. doi:10.1155/2016/1329814.
  5. ‌ZHANG, N., BAI, Y., DING, X. and ZHANG, Y. (2011). Preparation and characterization of thermoplastic materials for invisible orthodontics. Dental Materials Journal, 30(6), pp.954–959. doi:10.4012/dmj.2011-120.