Clear retainers and braces are effective treatment options for various alignment issues, including crowded teeth, crooked teeth and gaps. However, it is important to understand the differences between the two options and when braces make for a more appropriate solution than clear retainers.
Clear retainers vs. braces
Clear retainers are transparent trays that the patient wears over their teeth, and they gradually pull teeth into a better position. Braces utilize brackets and metal wires and typically work better for more severe malocclusions. The following is everything to know about choosing between clear retainers and braces.
What are clear retainers?
As mentioned previously, clear retainers are custom trays made of a very strong plastic material that pull teeth into a better alignment. They look very similar to a mouthguard, although much thinner. Many teenagers and adults benefit from clear retainers as these allow the patient to straighten their smile discreetly, whereas braces are much more visible. One of the only drawbacks to clear retainers, however, is that they may not work as well for severe instances of crooked or overcrowded teeth.
What are braces?
Traditional braces are an orthodontic device that pulls teeth into a straighter position through the use of brackets, which attach to the visible surface of the tooth, and metal wires that run through each bracket. The main appeal of braces is that these are more versatile and work very well for more severe instances of crooked or crowded teeth. There are several different types of braces, including traditional, ceramic and lingual. While traditional braces are the most popular, many orthodontists may recommend another form to patients who might feel insecure by wearing braces.
When are clear retainers an option?
Many patients prefer clear retainers because the device can be removed while eating and during an oral care routine, along with the cosmetic benefits during treatment. However, clear retainers are most appropriate for patients with mild to moderate misalignments. Many orthodontists recommend using braces to correct more severe instances of misaligned teeth or jaw.
How the treatment process works
The treatment process for clear retainers and braces are different, but there are also some similarities. In general, both treatment procedures are broken down into the following three stages:
- An initial consultation
- Treatment process
- Retainer and aftercare
The first step toward any form of teeth straightening is to schedule an initial consultation with an orthodontist, who can conduct an oral examination and determine which treatments are a viable option. After deciding between braces and clear retainers, treatment begins with a dental impression. After treatment, patients, regardless of the treatment chosen, are encouraged, if not required, to wear a retainer.
Talk to an orthodontist today
If you are interested in learning more about the differences between clear retainers and braces, consult with your orthodontist and schedule a time to come in for an initial consultation. The orthodontist can help both patients with braces and those who choose clear retainers through the entire treatment process.
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