Braces or Aligners: Which One’s Right For You?

Here at Windy City Orthodontics, we want all of our patients to feel informed and confident about every aspect of their treatment plan. If you’ve been thinking about straightening your smile with us, a great place to start is learning about the treatment options we have available in our Chicago office! Our braces and Invisalign clear aligners are popular with patients of all ages, so let’s take a closer look at both of them below. 

The basics of traditional braces

Traditional braces have been around in one form or another for centuries, which means they have a long history of successfully straightening smiles. They’re generally made up of metal or ceramic brackets that Dr. Pakravan attaches to the front surface of the teeth. These brackets are then tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands or elastics. Over time, these components will work together to gently move the teeth into the desired positions. 

Today’s braces are more comfortable and efficient than ever before. They’re also customizable! Multi-colored brackets and bands are available for patients who want to add some personality to their treatment, while clear or tooth-colored brackets can be used for those who prefer a more subtle look.

Traditional braces are incredibly effective at correcting a variety of oral issues and can be especially useful in more severe or complex cases. They can sometimes be faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than clear aligners, which can shorten the overall treatment time. It’s important to note, however, that there’s no “one size fits all” answer for how long treatment will last. This depends on several factors, from the complexity of a case to how the patient responds, but the average tends to be anywhere from 12-36 months. 

An excellent oral hygiene routine is essential for orthodontic patients, but maintaining traditional braces can be tough, especially in the beginning. Getting the brackets and wires completely clean can be tricky since it’s easy for food debris to get stuck in all the nooks and crannies. This gives bad bacteria a place to flourish and increases the risk for tooth decay and cavities

The good news is, there are lots of accessories available that can make cleaning with braces much easier! For example, oral irrigators like a Waterpik use a targeted stream of water to help rinse those hard-to-reach places, and ortho-picks are helpful for flossing around braces.

Food restrictions are often one of the biggest learning curves with braces, and they can take some getting used to. To keep the braces and teeth safe during treatment, patients must avoid all crunchy and chewy foods. This includes some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, gum, nuts, and several different types of candy and sweets. If you end up wearing braces, remember that this is only temporary! All your hard work will be worth it once your braces come off and we reveal your beautiful new smile.

Follow-up visits are an essential part of any treatment plan, and braces patients can expect to see us every 4-8 weeks or so. These visits help ensure you get the best results in the least amount of time, so you don’t want to miss them! During these appointments, Dr. Pakravan and his team will check that everything is progressing as it should be. They’ll also change the bands attached to the brackets and may choose to replace the wire at this time.

Braces or Aligners: Which One's Right For You?

The basics of clear aligner therapy such as Invisalign or Spark

Clear aligners are our most popular alternative to traditional braces. This innovative system provides patients with a convenient and subtle treatment option that is easier on the mouth than braces but gives the same exceptional results in many cases! Patient compliance is a huge factor in how well the system works. Patients must wear the aligners for 20-22 hours each day throughout treatment, and the aligners will need to be switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks as directed by Dr. Pakravan. Failure to follow these recommendations can affect the final results and lead to longer treatment times. 

As with braces, there’s no predetermined answer for how long a patient will need to wear the aligners. However, the average tends to be between 1-2 years. The clear aligners are designed to be removed before eating or drinking anything other than water, so there are no food restrictions. Invisalign patients are free to eat everything they usually would! The aligners are also taken out before brushing and flossing, so dental hygiene is a much simpler process than it is with braces. 

Aligner patients will have follow-up visits in our Chicago office every 2-3 months or so, though many are able to participate in remote monitoring of their treatment progress and make office visits less frequently. Skipping or rescheduling these appointments can delay or undo any progress made, especially if the aligners aren’t being changed out on schedule. While aligners do offer patients a measure of flexibility over braces, it also requires extra responsibility and compliance. For this reason, braces may be a better choice for some patients.

Braces or Aligners: Which One's Right For You?

Find your best smile at Windy City Orthodontics

Braces and Invisalign clear aligners are both great solutions for achieving a straighter smile, but what works for one patient may not be a good fit for another. That’s why it’s so important to work with qualified and experienced orthodontists like Dr. Pakravan! 

When you schedule an orthodontic evaluation with us, our expert team will be able to help you determine which treatment would be the best fit for your smile, lifestyle, and goals. This will give you a beautifully aligned smile that’s fully functional and just right for you! To learn more about whether braces or aligners could work for you, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Windy City Orthodontics.