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Invisalign Vs. Braces: The Basics

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Those worried about the straightness of their teeth often end up looking at two particular options. First, there are the tried and true braces. Second, there is the Invisalign system. Each approach has its pros and cons, and it's a good idea to get familiar with them before making a major choice about your future oral health.

Braces: Pros and Cons

Every alignment technique depends on some form on applying a slight amount of pressure against each tooth over the course of months or years. Bracing systems are among the oldest and most proven ways to get this job done.

They tend to be the cheapest available option, and they're the most likely option that you'll be a candidate for. Assuming you don't have other untreated oral health problems, especially any cavities, there's a good chance you can get a set of braces put in. Modern versions come in many designs, including near-white ones that match the enamel of the teeth. There are also lingual models that go on the back of the teeth, but these tend to be more expensive, and not everyone is a good candidate for them.

The biggest con of braces is their appearance. Old-school metal models, generally the cheapest, aren't ideal for folks who have strong concerns about the appearances of their smiles. These models also tend to call for many visits to the dentist for check-ups and to perform minor adjustments.

Invisalign: Pros and Cons

Derived from the words "invisible" and "aligner," Invisalign is a system that uses 3-D mapping system to create impressions of your teeth. A series of aligners is then designed to produce the intermediate steps that get you from where your teeth are aligned now to where you and your doctor want them to be.

The main downside to the system is disciplinary issues. A commonly recommended time for wearing them is 22 hours each day. This leaves very little time to get in three meals, hydrate, brush your teeth, and floss on a daily basis. For example, athletes are generally discouraged from getting invisible aligners because it's hard to be highly active and keep hydrated. Minors and adults with maturity issues are also discouraged from using them.

The clear plastic molding of the aligners is their biggest selling point. They're not easily noticed by others. On average, patients will undergo treatment for 12 to 18 months, changing aligners every few weeks.