Having the perfect Hollywood smile is something many of us dream about, and that dream can soon become a reality as easily accessible orthodontic treatment and teeth whitening solutions are available today… and they’re much closer than you might think!
Modern dentistry provides a variety of orthodontic solutions to help adults achieve their dream smile in the form of fixed braces and clear aligners, and both of them have proven themselves time and time again when it comes to straightening teeth and re-aligning jaws. But what’s the difference between the two and which would work better for you and your lifestyle?
Fixed braces vs clear aligners
As the name suggests, fixed braces are a brace that you cannot remove whilst your treatment is ongoing. There are many different types of fixed braces – more on that shortly – and they all share one similarity in how they’re fitted (brackets are glued to the front of each tooth by your orthodontist and a wire is then placed through the braces with, sometimes, elastic brands on either side – the brackets and wires work together to gently apply pressure to your teeth to move them into the corrected position).
Fixed braces provide excellent results and can treat a variety of misalignments from mild to severe, but from a convenience and aesthetic perspective, they might not always be the most appealing solution for adults seeking a more discreet treatment option.
Unlike fixed braces, clear aligners are removeable, transparent and made from a strong plastic-based material to withstand any bending or cracking, and they are trimmed to fit your exact gum line as they ‘hug’ each individual tooth. Clear aligners are suitable for treating slight overcrowding to more complex straightening issues and are particularly popular among our adult patient base because they offer a more discreet look, and they can be incorporated into a busy lifestyle with ease as they’re easy to put in and take out.
What’s available to you
You already know there are now a number of different types of fixed braces and clear aligners and if you’re not sure exactly what they are or which might be best for you, we’ve summarised everything you need to know:
Metal braces (fixed)
Think of the traditional ‘train-track’ braces, but modernised. Metal braces are now much smaller and more comfortable than ever before with strong adhesives. Metal braces are typically recommended for patients with moderate to severely misaligned teeth and, depending on the severity of the misalignment, patients can expect to wear their metal braces anywhere between 12 – 36 months.
Ceramic braces (fixed)
Ceramic braces offer all the benefits of metal braces, but with a more subtle ceramic bracket – ideal for adults looking for a more discreet treatment option. The fitting process is simple and pain free, lasting approximately one hour (half an hour per row of teeth). Depending on your individual treatment plan, you’ll wear your ceramic brace for approximately 12 – 18 months before having it removed.
Hidden lingual braces (fixed)
Using pressure from a metal wire to push teeth into their desired position, just like ceramic and metal braces, but a hidden lingual brace is fitted to the backs of your teeth, making them virtually un-noticeable to anyone else. Aptly named as Incognito braces, they can treat a variety of mild, moderate and severe misalignment issues and are ideal for patients whose social or professional situation does not accommodate traditional braces from an aesthetics perspective. Treatment times vary between 12 to 24 months with many patients starting to see results after a matter of weeks. Hidden lingual braces are our most expensive fixed brace option because it is so effective and discreet – it’s why our adult patient base love them so much.
Invisalign (clear aligners)
Using a series of transparent aligners (similar to retainers) to gradually move the position of teeth instead of brackets and wires, Invisalign is a great orthodontic option to correct mild to moderately crooked teeth, bite issues and gaps. On average, treatment time varies between 12 to 18 months and, because the aligners are removable, you can also continue to enjoy all the foods you love without restrictions.
The pros and cons
To help you decide on your ideal brace, we’ve listed below the pros and cons of both fixed braces and clear aligners:
Fixed braces – pros
- Less discipline and commitment required from patients
- No chance of the brace becoming lost
- Suitable for almost all case types, providing full and complete corrections
- Many different designs to aid subtlety of treatment
- Easy to keep clean and maintain
- Progress is closely monitored by your orthodontist at regular check-up appointments
Clear aligners – pros
- Aligners are almost invisible, making treatment difficult to notice – perfect for adults
- More comfortable than fixed braces as there are no wires/ brackets rubbing the cheeks or lips
- Removeable (for eating and brushing) making it easy to keep your teeth and gums clean
- Low maintenance treatment and minimal visits to your orthodontist required
Fixed braces – cons
- Must be worn permanently
- Can be uncomfortable
- Particular foods (chewy, crunchy etc) must not be consumed to avoid damaging or staining the brace
- Duration time can be lengthy
- Regular trips to your orthodontist throughout treatment to tighten the brackets
- Visible (but subtle options are available eg ceramic or hidden lingual braces)
Clear aligners – cons
- Can be lost or broken, resulting in additional expense and time to overall treatment duration
- Patients must remember to wear them as instructed by their orthodontist (they are removeable so it’s important not to forget about them or wear them for less time than advised)
- Stringent aftercare is required to protect and maintain the results
- Progress may not be monitored closely as you do not need to visit your orthodontist throughout treatment
There are a number of motivations behind adults seeking orthodontic treatment. Over 60% of our patient base are adults, but don’t just take our word for it… Back in 2019 75% of orthodontists had seen an increase in the number of adults wanting braces and 85% of current brace wearers in the UK are in the 26 – 55 age bracket, proving that braces are no longer ‘just for kids.’
When it comes to choosing the right option, you’ll need to consider different factors such as budget, timescale and how flexible you want the solution to be. Your orthodontist will discuss what brace type would work well for you and suit your lifestyle best, and at Orthodontics For You we offer complimentary consultations for prospective patients to assess their teeth, explore the brace options available to them and answer their burning dental questions – just click here to book your free consultation today.
While nobody particularly wants to wear braces, if you want straighter teeth, it’s a temporary sacrifice you’ll need to make.