Braces Vs. Clear Aligners: Which Is Right For Your Smile?

If you’ve recently decided to explore how orthodontics can help transform your teeth, you may be wondering which treatment options are available to you. You might be comparing braces vs clear aligners, wondering which one is right for your smile. At McMurphy Orthodontics, we offer everything from traditional braces to clear aligners, so there’s a solution for every misaligned smile! It’s important to us that you feel informed about the steps ahead since this allows you to play a more active role in your orthodontic journey. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how braces and clear aligners can improve your oral health! Along with input from Dr. McMurphy, this will help you determine which of these options could be the best fit for your unique smile.

Two different approaches, the same long-lasting results

Traditional braces have been around for many years and have a well-established history of successfully treating malocclusions. They are usually composed of metal or ceramic brackets that are attached to your teeth, then tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands or elastics. These components work together to move the teeth into the desired positions gradually.

Clear aligners are removable, meaning they aren’t affixed to the surface of the teeth like braces. Instead of brackets, bands, and wires, these systems use a series of aligners to shift the teeth. The customized trays are made of a special thermoplastic material and come with small tooth-colored attachments that allow them to fit comfortably over your teeth. Aligners will generally be switched out every 1-2 weeks for the next in the series to keep up with the movements your teeth are making.  

What you need to know about braces

Traditional braces are a bit of an orthodontic workhorse and very efficient at correcting oral issues that range from mild to complex. They can sometimes be faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than clear aligners, which may shorten the overall treatment time for some patients. Although we’re often asked how long treatment lasts, there’s no “one size fits all” answer since this is decided on a case-by-case basis. The average, however, tends to be anywhere from 12-36 months. 

Maintaining traditional braces may be a bit of a challenge, especially in the beginning. A good dental hygiene routine is essential for orthodontic patients, but getting the brackets and wires completely clean can be tricky, thanks to all those nooks and crannies. It’s easy for food debris to get stuck, giving bad bacteria a place to flourish. This increases the risk for tooth decay and cavities, so it’s important to brush and floss thoroughly. 

Fortunately, several accessories are available that can make cleaning much more manageable! Oral irrigators use a targeted stream of water to help rinse those hard-to-reach places, and ortho-picks are useful when it comes to flossing with braces.

Food restrictions can be one of the biggest learning curves with braces. To keep your teeth and braces safe, you’ll need to avoid anything crunchy or chewy until you finish your treatment. This includes some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, gum, nuts, and several kinds of candy and sweets. Remember that this is only temporary and will all be worth it once your braces come off and we reveal your beautiful new smile! 

Braces patients are scheduled for regular follow-up visits with us, usually every 6-8 weeks or so. During these appointments, Dr. McMurphy will change the bands attached to the brackets, and he may choose to replace the wire at this time. We try to get you in and out as quickly as possible so you won’t need to miss too much work or school. These visits are an essential part of your treatment plan and help ensure you get the best results in the least amount of time. You won’t want to miss them if you can help it! 

What you need to know about clear aligners 

Even though the end results are the same with these two treatment options, aligners are a less invasive way to straighten the teeth. Depending on the complexity of the case, our practice has Clarity, Invisalign, and special in-house aligners available. 

Patient compliance is a huge factor in how successful clear aligner treatment is! The system can only work if the recommended guidelines are followed exactly. If aligners aren’t worn the required 20-22 hours per day throughout the course of treatment, the results can be affected, and it may also add time to the orthodontic process. Aligners will also need to be switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks to keep the teeth moving in the direction we want them to go. As with braces, there’s no concrete answer for how long a patient will need to wear the aligners. The average tends to be 12-24 months, although this can vary widely. 

Clear aligners are extremely easy to maintain. They’re designed to be removed before eating or drinking anything other than water, so you never have to worry about food getting stuck in your brackets or wires. You also take them out before brushing and flossing, so dental hygiene is a much simpler process than it is with braces. The removability of the aligners means there are no food restrictions, so you’re free to eat everything you normally would as long as you’re careful to brush after every meal and floss nightly!

Patients in clear aligners will typically have follow-up visits every 4-12 weeks. In between these appointments, you’ll be responsible for changing your aligner at the recommended interval. If you make a habit of skipping or rescheduling your visits with Dr. McMurphy, or miss changing your aligners when you’re scheduled to, it can quickly undo any progress you’ve made.

Braces Vs. Clear Aligners: Which Is Right For Your Smile?

Find the right fit for your smile with McMurphy Orthodontics

Braces and clear aligners are both excellent options for straightening smiles and improving oral health, but what works for one patient may not be a good fit for another. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced orthodontic team like ours! 

When you schedule an evaluation with us, Dr. McMurphy will be able to tell you which treatment would be the best fit for your lifestyle and your goals. This results in a beautifully aligned smile you’ll enjoy for many years to come.

With offices in Biloxi and Ocean Springs, you’re never very far from taking the first step towards a confident smile! To learn more about whether braces or clear aligners could work for you, get in touch today and schedule your FREE exam with our expert team.