aligners versus braces - which is better?

Adults seeking orthodontic treatment have a lot of questions regarding the best method to use. Therefore a common question we get asked is regarding aligners versus braces – which is better? How does one decide on the treatment method? These two methods are used to achieve the same results. However, they are different, and we recommend consulting a dentist before settling on either of them as only an accurate diagnosis can determine the right mode of correction.

Things That Both Fixed Braces and Aligners Do

Move Your Teeth

Both clear aligners and fixed braces can positively impact the arch shape and close gaps between teeth. They can also align overlapping and crooked teeth and generally improve the appearance of your teeth. They correct the misalignment by applying a constant force on the teeth, causing the jaw bone to realign around the roots. Bite discrepancies can also be corrected or adjusted with braces.

Help You Lose Weight or Quit Smoking

With fixed and clear braces, eating can be difficult at first. With fixed braces, you need to be careful what foods you bite into to avoid debonding the brackets or breaking wires. On the other hand, with clear aligners, you need to remove them before every meal and clean them thoroughly. Elastic components of fixed braces as well as the plastic material of clear aligners will discolour relatively quickly if the patient is a heavy smoker – in fact some patients view orthodontic treatment as an incentive to reduce or quit smoking.

Affect Your Speech for the first few days

Clear aligners and fixed braces may affect your speech in the first few days. However, patients get used to the tongue displacement, and their speech normalises relatively quickly (1).

Advantages of Fixed Braces

dental braces at savina dental clinics malta and gozo

Possible To Achieve Ideal Results

Fixed braces exert more force on the teeth. As such, they produce better results in the long run. Also, clear aligners are limited in the number of teeth that they can move at a time.

Multiple Types of Braces To Choose From

There are different types of braces ranging from wired and metal bracket braces, ceramic braces, to lingual braces. The latter is more discrete.

Ideal for All Treatments

Fixed braces can handle all cases, regardless of their complexity. They are the most diverse and powerful alignment treatment.

Takes less time

Generally, when closing gaps between teeth, braces are faster. However, the speed of treatment is also determined by the dentist’s experience and skill and by the patient’s anatomy and compliance.

Risks Associated With Fixed Braces

Enamel Trauma

When the braces are being removed, dentists need to pop the brackets from the teeth. During this process, the enamel may be slightly scratched. Moreover, dentists use specific drills to remove the remaining glue, and, although extreme care is taken, occasionally the enamel might get damaged during this process as well.

Pulp (nerve) Reactions

If the tooth corrections are too drastic, the teeth move too fast and cover large distances. In such cases, the nerves might be greatly stressed and develop a degree of inflammation.

Enamel Demineralisation

With fixed braces, bracket adhesive is used to bond the brackets to the teeth. If the patient does not practice good oral hygiene, plaque will accumulate around brackets and wires and this can lead to demineralisation of the enamel resulting in brown stains on the teeth.

Enamel Wear

When fixed braces are placed on the lower teeth, the upper teeth might undergo some wear and tear as they bite onto the fixed brackets.

Periodontal/Gum Risks

When wearing clear aligners and braces, you are at the risk of developing gingivitis. However, the risk is more with fixed braces than clear aligners because brushing and flossing are easier with clear aligners. With braces, a thin layer of bacteria and plaque can collect and cause the gum to weaken over time (2).

Advantages of Aligners

 

advantages of clear aligners

You Can Take Them off Regularly

Clear aligners (such as Invisalign) don’t have to be worn all day long. You can remove them when having meals. However, you need to have them on between 20 and 22 hours daily. Because of this, you don’t have to change your diet like with braces. But you have to be extra vigilant with oral hygiene.

Fewer Visits

With clear aligners, a lot of the dentist’s work is done before wearing the aligners. Moulds or 3D scans of your mouth and teeth are taken and used to design custom retainers in labs.

The aligners should be changed with time according to the dentist’s directions, but you don’t have to visit the dentist’s office at every stage for adjustments. The visits are therefore minimal, translating into fewer inconveniences.

Easier to Brush and Floss Your Teeth

When having meals, you can remove the clear aligners. You should also remove them when brushing your teeth. Since you don’t have to manoeuvre metal wires on the teeth, you can floss and brush thoroughly and without restrictions.

Comfortable To Wear

Clear aligners aren’t painful. You will feel some discomfort in the first few days of wearing them as you get used to the change. But unlike fixed braces, you will not develop sores, cuts or ulcers in the mouth, gums, tongue, and insides of the lips and cheeks.

Risks Associated with aligners

Crowns/Veneers

Dental veneers need to be bonded securely. If they are not, inserting and removing aligners could loosen them. Because of this, we recommend visiting a dentist for a quick crown check-up.

With healthy veneers and dental crowns, you have nothing to worry about.

Overeruption

When aligners and fixed braces are inserted, the teeth don’t always touch. For this reason, when the molars or the wisdom teeth pierce through the gum, they may over-erupt, thereby affecting the bite. This can be corrected with braces and aligners as well.

Cost of Braces and Aligners

Braces are a common solution for teeth misalignment. Fixed braces start from around €3000. The most expensive fixed braces are the lingual braces.

On the other hand, clear aligners will cost you anything between €3500 and €5000, depending on the duration of the treatment, as well as the brand that you choose. Please see our indicative pricing page for further details.

Aligners Vs Braces Effectiveness

Fixed braces are extremely efficient when dealing with complex tooth problems. They are faster in closing gaps between teeth than clear aligners. But every patient is different. On average, fixed braces are worn between 18 – 36 months.

Aligners Or Braces; Which is The Best Treatment For You?

The best treatment option depends on your preference, budget, and lifestyle. Some individuals prefer a permanent solution. They don’t mind if their smile is affected during the correction. But most adults prefer clear aligners such as Invisalign since they are removable and discrete. Aligners are the preferred option for many, mainly because they are painless and invisible.

To have an accurate cost estimation, we will carry out a full diagnosis and suggest the ideal treatment based on your prevailing conditions.

Have You Tried Our Free e-Consultation Service?

If you are worried about a dental related issue, interested in traveling to Malta for a dental holiday or have questions about any of the treatments we offer, please contact us using our new free e-Consultation service. One of our highly-qualified team will respond to your query as soon as possible. Our e-Consultation service is live 9 am – 6 pm Monday to Friday.

If you would like to schedule an in-person consultation at Savina Dental, please book your appointment using this form.

Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.