When Are Traditional Braces the Best Choice?

Jun 07, 2023
When Are Traditional Braces the Best Choice?
When it's time to straighten your teeth, you can choose between traditional braces and clear aligner trays. Aligner trays such as Invisalign® are popular and widely publicized, but sometimes braces are the best bet for you or your child. 

Whether it’s time to straighten your child’s teeth, or you’re looking at a realignment for yourself, orthodontics help you achieve your aesthetic and functional goals. A perfectly aligned bite not only looks better but actually preserves the health of your teeth, gums, and jaw bone.

Once, metal bracket-and-wire braces that can take several years to correct your bite were your only orthodontic choice. But since the advent of Invisalign® clear aligner trays in 1998, you now have two clear choices to correct bite problems, such as:

  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Open bite
  • Cross bite
  • Crowded teeth
  • Twisted teeth
  • Gapped teeth 

Addie Chang, DMD, an expert family and cosmetic dentist, offers both clear aligners and traditional braces at her clinic in Tukwila, Washington. While Invisalign is a great choice for many, sometimes traditional braces are just what the “doctor ordered.”

Why might you choose traditional braces over Invisalign? 

You have a very complex case

While Invisalign can fix many alignment problems — and even some complex cases with the addition of SmartForce® attachments — if you have an extremely complicated alignment problem, braces are the better choice. Braces have a long history of being able to correct tooth and jaw alignment. 

One of the lures of Invisalign is that it tends to have shorter treatment times. In fact, most alignment problems are fixed in about six months with Invisalign, when it takes about two years for braces. However, complex cases demand more time with Invisalign, too. If both choices have the same treatment time, you may decide to go with braces after all.

You (or your teen) tends to be forgetful

Clear aligners such as Invisalign require a fairly high order of responsibility. Not only must you be committed to wearing them 22 hours a day, you also have to switch aligner trays every week or two so that your teeth continuously move toward their goal alignment.

Invisalign offers InvisalignTeen® with indicator dots to help kids remember to switch aligner trays, but they may not be sufficient. You have to notice when the dot turns blue in order to switch on time, and can’t delay or forget to do so.

You (or your teen) loses or breaks things

Orthodontics — no matter whether clear aligners or traditional braces — are expensive. The advantage to traditional braces is that they remain in your mouth. You can’t take them out, lose them, or break them.

In contrast, Invisalign trays must be removed in order to eat. That gives you or your teen a chance to lose the aligner trays or even to break them. If there’s more than a slight chance that clear aligner trays could be lost or broken, choose traditional braces instead.

You’re too busy to fuss

Traditional braces don’t require much from you. Although you must take extra care to brush, floss, and water pick your teeth to remove food residue from the brackets and wires, you don’t have to remember to take them out to eat, put them back in afterward, or clean them daily.

Once we attach braces to your teeth, we do all of the adjustments for you. You come to our office for your appointment, where we gradually tighten your braces until your teeth are straight. You may have to wear a night brace to add extra pressure on your teeth while you sleep.

You’re already confident

One of the appeals of clear aligners is that they’re discreet. The patented SmartTrack® material used in Invisalign, for example, is practically invisible except when you’re up close.

However, if you’re not a teen who’s afraid of being called “metal mouth,” you might not care at all about the aesthetics of your orthodontic choice. Instead, you can opt for braces to fix your alignment.

In fact, traditional braces could be a conversation starter, particularly if you’re an adult. When people ask you about why you chose to straighten your teeth, you can explain the oral health benefits of a well-aligned jaw and teeth. 

Find out if braces are the right way to straighten your or your teen’s teeth by scheduling an orthodontics consultation today by phone or online form.