So you have had your child evaluated and they need orthodontic treatment. The next question is should your child get braces or clear aligners like Invisalign? Braces are metal or ceramic brackets that are glued to each tooth with a wire running through the brackets. The force from the wire moves teeth slowly over time. Clear aligners exert force on teeth using plastic. The patient changes aligners every 2 weeks until the end of treatment. Clear aligners and braces offer a different orthodontic experience, so it’s important to consider the differences when evaluating what the best option for your child.
Advantages of Braces
One giant benefit to braces is that they cannot be removed. This is great for children or teens who either don’t want the responsibility that comes with have aligners or for who compliance might be an issue. As many people know, braces have colored ties so those who like to showcase their personality can enjoy changing the colors on their braces every visit. Braces can be used to treat a wide range of cases, no matter how complex (barring the need for jaw surgery) and intricate tooth movements can be achieved. There is flexibility visit to visit, so each patient case can be tweaked as they progress and additional appliances can be used easily in conjunction with braces. Braces also may be less expensive than clear aligners.
Disadvantages of Braces
Because braces cannot be removed, the child wearing them must make sure to clear their teeth properly, making sure to get under the wire and all around the brackets. Learning new techniques to clean teeth will be required to ensure that no cavities form in harder to reach places. Braces are also visible. Ceramic braces are less visible than traditional metal ones, but you can still see them. And the biggest disadvantage for many child is the change is diet required. Sticky and hard foods cannot be eaten while wearing braces without the risk of breaking a bracket, which will slow treatment and potentially require more office visits.
Advantages of Clear Aligners
Clear aligners have a few advantages over braces. For starters, they are clear! They are nearly invisible and many people cannot tell when someone is wearing them. They are also removable. Both of these reasons mean they are great for children who are concerned about how they will look either in person or in pictures. Clear aligners allow children the freedom to continue to eat what they’ve always eaten and brush how they’ve always brushed because they simply take them out to do both. A patient wearing aligners will have less appointments and typically shorter appointments than one wearing braces.
Disadvantages of Clear Aligners
A child who wears clear aligners has to be responsible. They need to make sure they are wearing their aligners for 22 hours a day. This means whenever they are not actively eating or brushing, their aligners should be in. In addition to this, they cannot lose the aligners or they risk setting back treatment and costing their parents more than intended. The child also cannot drink anything other than water while wearing the aligners of they will stain the aligners and greatly increase their risk of cavities. The kinds of cases that aligners can be used in are growing in complexity, but there are cases that aligners will not give the desired result. Clear aligners cannot yet make all of the same movements that braces can and not everyone will be a candidate for clear aligners.
It’s Up To You
You know your child better than anyone. When deciding between braces or clear aligners, consider what kind of person you child is and what will make sense for them. Each child is different and while it’s true that braces tend to be better for younger children and teens often prefer clear aligners, neither are a hard and fast rule. The age of your child, what your child wants, and how much responsibility you know your child can handle must all be factored into making the decision. An orthodontist will help want you through each of the options and together, your child can find the right treatment to get the beautiful smile they deserve.