Choosing the right type of braces for your teeth can feel overwhelming with all the options available in the market. Each type of brace has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and their suitability will depend on individual preferences, dental conditions, not to mention budget.
I believe that “best” is a relative term, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to braces. To make our comparison more informative and useful, I will be focusing on two main criteria: the effectiveness of braces in aligning teeth and fixing bites. I won’t be delving into the aesthetic aspect since this is highly personal and subjective.
Armed with the right information, you will be in a better position to make an informed decision about the braces that work best for you. So, let’s get started and find out more about the different braces available, their benefits, and drawbacks.
Are Braces 100% Effective?
As an orthodontist, I often get asked if braces are 100% effective. To answer this question, it’s essential to understand what effectiveness means in this context. It refers to the braces’ ability to achieve appealing aesthetics and a correct bite in a reasonable amount of time.
First, let’s address the aesthetics aspect. While braces can make a significant improvement in the appearance of your teeth, you need to adjust your expectations when it comes to the final look. Some tooth shapes may never achieve the “perfect” appearance, but they will still become more visually appealing than before. In such cases, you might need additional cosmetic treatments after your braces are removed, like bonding or veneers.
Achieving a correct bite is equally, if not more important. Some patients have more complicated orthodontic issues that may need tooth extractions or even surgery, to achieve the best results. Many of my patients could benefit from arch expansions, something that braces alone can’t always always achieve.
This need for additional treatments can increase cost and treatment time but it’s well worth it to fix problems all the way, especially in more complex cases.
Lastly, we need to consider the orthodontist’s skill. Braces won’t work the same way in the hands of a beginner as they would in the hands of a board certified orthodontist with decades of experience. Orthodontics is a complex field, and there’s always so much to learn.
In conclusion, braces are 90% effective in aligning teeth perfectly, and obtaining the ideal bite. Most patients don’t notice the shortcomings of their orthodontic treatment, but it can be frustrating for some of us perfectionists when treatments don’t work exactly like a textbook case.
What Type of Braces Is the Best?
Traditional Fixed Braces – They Still Fix Everything
In my practice, I resort to fixed braces whenever I can. I understand that traditional fixed braces might not be the most aesthetically pleasing option out there, but there’s really nothing they can’t fix. Both self-ligating and conventional metal braces are a good choice. If looks are a crucial factor for you, you might want to consider alternatives like ceramic or sapphire braces, but don’t reject fixed braces altogether.
The reason why traditional fixed braces still work the best is that they’ve been around the longest, and all orthodontists are experts in these braces, including their potential and their flaws. They’ve been developed and refined through decades of research and practice, which makes them incredibly effective in treating a wide range of dental issues.
Clear Aligners – The Second Best
If traditional braces are off the table, consider clear aligners. They are rapidly gaining popularity due to their near-invisibility and ease of use. However, they still have a long way to go to match the versatility of traditional fixed braces, particularly in more challenging cases.
Orthodontists are continuously learning about the specifics of how clear aligners work. As more research and practice accumulate around these devices, they could potentially become the best option out there. But for now, they remain a solid second choice for most people.
Beware of mail-order clear aligners that don’t have your case thoroughly assessed and observed by an orthodontist throughout your treatment. Many bites have been ruined due to so-called affordable clear aligners. It’s always best to go to a physical office to get yours.
Which Type of Braces Is the Fastest?
Clear Aligners – The Most Customizable
Currently, clear aligners are the fastest option for fixing misalignments in teeth. This is because they have a customizable and targeted approach for each individual tooth. This allows for great precision and control, particularly in fixing crowding or closing gaps.
Clear aligners rely on digital software to plan tooth movements and are 3D printed for each phase of treatment, so there’s little room for error.
However, it’s important to know that clear aligners may sometimes fail or take longer than expected when it comes to fixing bites. They can interfere with the biting surface, and that can be a challenge during the end of treatment, when it’s time to close the posterior bite.
Self-Ligating Braces – The Second Best
Fixed braces, like traditional metal or ceramic braces, don’t offer the same level of customization as clear aligners. In fact, they’re quite generic. Conventional braces take longer because you have to go through several archwires to achieve the desired result.
Nonetheless, self-ligating braces are a better alternative to traditional braces. They might be considered the second-best option when it comes to speed, after clear aligners. These braces use a sliding mechanism that holds the wire, reducing the friction between the wire and the brackets. This means that your teeth can move more freely, which could potentially shorten the treatment time.
One common issue that can slow down the progress of any orthodontic treatment, regardless of the type, is patient compliance. Whether you choose clear aligners or self-ligating braces, make sure to follow your orthodontist’s instructions. This includes wearing elastics as prescribed and attending regular appointments to make adjustments.
Lastly, please understand that there is no such thing as fast braces. If done right, orthodontic treatment takes time, whatever the device involve. Sure, some tools can shorten treatment duration by a few months, but it’s up to you to decide if those extra months of freedom are worth the extra investment.