If you are an adult considering orthodontic treatment, you may be wondering: Invisalign or braces? Should you go with a clear aligner system, or traditional bracket-and-wire braces?
Everyone you’ve known who’s worn Invisalign loves their discreet appearance and flexibility, but you also see adults with clear braces, too. You may wonder, why doesn’t everyone use Invisalign?
Invisalign® is favored by many—partially because of its appearance, and partially because you can simply remove the aligners for dates, business meetings, or photographs. But it’s not right for everyone. Both methods can straighten a crowded-looking smile, but there are a few things Invisalign cannot do.
Braces are Better for Bite Disorders
Invisalign can gradually shift the horizontal position of your teeth, but it cannot correct bite problems. Nor can it rotate teeth or shift them downward.
How can you tell if your bite is off? You probably know already if you have an overbite or underbite you want to change, but cross-bite is another issue that can damage your teeth. When the top and bottom arches of teeth don’t fit together when you bite down, this can lead to greater wear and tear on the teeth. Eroded enamel and cracked molars are more common with bite disorders—and they can even lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
If you notice popping or clicking sounds when you open and close your jaw, the joints may not be functioning properly. An improper bite can cause this, and it can lead to much worse than an occasional popping sound. TMJ disorder is often the cause of mysterious headaches, neck pain, and facial or jaw pain. It is often connected with bruxism (teeth grinding), which can further damage your teeth. If any of these symptoms coincide with what we find is improper bite alignment, we will always recommend traditional braces over Invisalign.
Braces are Better if You Don’t Want to Change Your Eating Habits
One of the biggest caveats about Invisalign is that you cannot eat while wearing the aligners. The only thing you can consume while wearing Invisalign is plain water. For everything else, you must remove the aligners and you must brush and floss your teeth before you put them back in. For those of us who like to sip our coffee or Diet Coke throughout the day, Invisalign would mean a drastic change.
Why is this rule so important? Eating while wearing the aligners can damage them, for one, but there’s more to the story than that. When you wear Invisalign, your teeth do not make contact with your saliva. This means they do not get the benefit of saliva’s acid-neutralizing and rinsing properties. If you drink coffee while wearing your aligners, the next few hours will be like wearing a whitening tray filled with coffee—you will get massive staining. If you drink soda while wearing the aligners, any small amount of soda that gets in will sit against the teeth and feed bacteria. This creates an acidic environment that causes cavities. Cheating on the no-drinking/no-eating rule (or not cleaning the teeth thoroughly before replacing your aligners) will land you with rapidly advancing decay and/or teeth stains. If this sounds like too drastic a change, then we would recommend you spend your money on braces instead.
Benefits of All Orthodontics, Invisalign, or Braces
If you are an adult or teen thinking about orthodontic treatment, congratulations! You are making a wonderful decision for the long-term health of your mouth. Realigning your teeth into more balanced positions is usually an aesthetic choice, but it has great value for the health of your teeth and gums. Teeth that overlap or sit at odd angles are simply harder to keep clean. They may look clean, but more inaccessible spaces mean more places for bacteria to hide. Mouths with poorly aligned teeth are more likely to develop cavities in those hard-to-clean areas, and gum disease can develop more quickly.
Leaving your teeth in their natural state can also be risky because poor alignment leads to greater wear and tear and structural damage to the teeth. If you have a bite problem, you may be more likely to develop TMJ disorder or bruxism.
Straightening your teeth is a wonderful decision to make for your appearance, self-confidence, and oral health. Sacramento dentist Dr. David Markham can help you decide whether you should get Invisalign or braces. Visit our dental office for an orthodontic consultation and we’ll discuss how your oral health, alignment issues, and lifestyle might make one treatment preferable over another.
Call our Sacramento, CA dental office at 916-924-8970 to schedule an appointment for an orthodontic consultation.