8 things you should know before getting braces

Thinking of getting braces? Are braces your best teeth straightening option? Read on, to find out what to know about braces compared to other teeth straightening options to achieve your best smile.

1. What are braces and how do they work?

Braces are the traditional, time tested, gold standard for orthodontic tooth movement. Braces come in different sizes and materials (metal, clear ceramic), but all have this in common: Braces are small precision “handles” that are bonded to teeth, and a flexible wire is connected to the braces to provide gentle forces to apply to the teeth. These forces, over time, cause teeth to move into improved positions.

Clear aligners are an excellent alternative to braces when considering teeth straightening. Clear aligners are made of a crystal clear, thin plastic material that is almost invisible. Unlike braces, they are removable. Aligners are worn daily and removed for eating, drinking and oral hygiene.

2. Diet and hygiene to consider when wearing braces

There are limitations.

Since braces are attached to teeth with an adhesive, there is always a chance that biting into something hard will cause a brace to dislodge from a tooth. This then requires an additional visit to the orthodontist to have the brace reattached to the tooth. Orthodontists recommend a softer diet to avoid breakage.

Also, braces and wires have a tendency to trap food, and this requires diligent oral hygiene care by the patient, on a daily basis. Salads are particularly tenacious around braces! Because braces trap food, it’s very important to thoroughly clean your teeth 3 times daily with a toothbrush, and also use dental floss and a water irrigation device (it’s like a power washer for teeth).

Alternatively, clear aligner treatments do not suffer from the same dietary limitations. Clear aligner patients may eat anything they desire without fear of breaking something.

And oral hygiene is much easier, as there are no projections from the teeth. (Note: Some clear aligner treatments require small composite attachments to be bonded to the teeth. These are still much easier to clean than braces and wires).

3. Are braces always painful?

They can cause considerable discomfort.

When considering the pros and cons of braces, we often think of pain.

While the wires used with braces today are very gentle, they still can cause some discomfort when eating. The pressure your teeth feel when a new wire is placed, makes them slightly tender to touch and biting pressure. This is a temporary experience and passes within a few days to a week. Analgesics like Tylenol (Paracetamol) or Ibuprofen are helpful to take the edge off. Additionally, braces and wires can irritate the inside of the lips and cheeks, creating painful mouth ulcers. This can take a few days to get used to.

While any tooth moving device can cause discomfort, patients who wear clear aligners report minimal discomfort for no more than a couple of days. Since discomfort occurs when a new or increased force is placed on teeth, this process may occur with every new aligner. There are ways to easily alleviate any initial discomfort with clear aligners.

4. Which looks better, braces or clear aligners?

Clear aligners are more discreet.

Braces have traditionally been made from metal, and brace wearers have been given some creative names, like: “Train Tracks”; “Metal Mouth”; “Braceface”; “Tinsel Teeth” and “Grillz”. While metal braces are still in vogue, particularly with children and teens, newer cosmetic braces made of clear or tooth-coloured ceramics are now available. They work in the same manner as metal braces, but have a less conspicuous appearance.

There are also braces that are bonded behind the teeth: Lingual braces are truly invisible, but tend to be very expensive due to the difficulties of treating teeth within the very tiny, confined space of the back of the teeth.

Clear aligners are almost invisible, and should be considered as an alternative to braces when appearance and cost are important.

5. What is the treatment time for braces?

It's generally longer than clear aligners.

Treatment with any type of orthodontic appliances takes some time to complete. Depending upon the nature and severity of the orthodontic problem, some common treatment times are 6, 12, 18, 24 or 30 months. Lingual braces usually take several months longer than braces bonded to the outside of the teeth.

A disadvantage of braces is that most are of a generic, non-customised nature. This means that when a wire is connected to braces, some teeth that are already straight may move out of position while the crooked ones start to move. Sometimes this adds to the time wearing braces, to account for corrections of unexpected or undesirable movements.

In this regard, clear aligner care in some cases takes less time than traditional braces, because the treatment is customised at every step and avoids undesirable movements of already well aligned teeth.

6. Are braces expensive?

Compared to clear aligners, braces are generally more expensive.

The cost of treatment with braces runs within a wide range, dependent upon the difficulty and time the orthodontist expects it will take to treat a given problem. Lingual braces are even more expensive.

Clear aligner treatments delivered by an orthodontist are about the same cost as clear braces. New direct to consumer clear aligner treatments are the least expensive, as they do not involve visits to a dental professional. These treatments are designed to treat only milder orthodontic problems. You can also opt for clear aligner pricing plans.

7. What teeth conditions do braces treat?

If an orthodontic problem can be treated, braces are always a suitable way to deliver the mechanics needed. That’s because braces have a firm purchase on teeth and afford 360º control. They can be used for the most difficult of tooth movements required.

Clear aligners are able to treat a broad range of orthodontic problems including crooked and crowded teeth. The majority of adult orthodontic care and teeth straightening delivered today is with clear aligners. While clear aligners have evolved tremendously over the last 20 years, there are still some tooth movements that clear aligners are not very capable of delivering.

Direct to consumer clear aligner treatments are limited to cases with mild spacing or crowding of the front six teeth. Thousands of patients have those problems and seek out this option.

While Wondersmile clear aligners don’t require doctor visits, you get support with our remote monitoring technology that helps keep your treatment progress on track.

8. Are braces worth it?

The answer is, “it depends”.

It depends upon the severity of your orthodontic problem, and your preference regarding a fixed set of braces on the teeth vs. clear aligners, a completely removable option.

Uncomplicated orthodontic problems can be treated by either method. In the case of a complex orthodontic problem, an orthodontist would help you make this decision. In either case, braces or clear aligners are absolutely worth the investment if they straighten your teeth, giving you the smile you have dreamed of.

Should I get braces or clear aligners for moderate teeth crowding?

Clear aligners compared to braces are more affordable and comfortable.

If you have minor to moderate crowding or spacing of your front teeth, and would prefer an inexpensive, removable treatment option for straighter teeth, that is almost invisible, consider Wondersmile clear aligners. There is no obligation or cost to find out if this will suit your individual smile, and it’s easy to find out. You can start with the free teeth assessment online. We want to help you have an amazing smile!

How do I get started with Wondersmile clear aligners?

We offer two easy ways to get started with teeth straightening.

Book a scan at a clinic near you. This will be you one and only clinic visit. After the scan, our orthodontists will design your clear aligner treatment plan. And we'll deliver them to your door in once easy-to-use kit.

Alternatively you can skip the clinic and order an impression kit that's delivered to your home. You'll do your teeth impressions at home, send them back to us, our orthodontists will design your treatment plan and then we'll deliver your clear aligner kit to you.

You can also find out more about how the teeth straightening process work with Wondersmile clear aligners here.

Written by Dr. Tania Aguilar | Lead Orthodontist at Wondersmile.