Wires or Aligners – Know the Pros and Cons
If anyone has ever disclosed to you that they’re wearing clear aligners to correct the alignment of their teeth, it might be hard to understand why anyone would choose any other method of straightening their teeth! The reality is, however, that there are many differences in the required lifestyle, maintenance and the capacity of each of these appliances to straighten your teeth.
What Are Wire Braces?
When we talk about wire braces, we are referring to the wire, called and arch wire, that runs laterally along the top and bottom of the dental arches. This wire is held in place with brackets that are attached to each tooth. The wire exerts pressure on the brackets which results in the tooth feeling pressure to move into alignment.
What are Aligners?
Aligners usually refer to Invisalign®’s proprietary system. Invisalign® uses custom tight-fitting moulds to fit over all of the teeth and guide them into place over time. The aligners are clear, and virtually invisible against your teeth. Many patients seeking Invisalign® in Edmonton are candidates for this new technology.
We’d like to tell you that Invisalign® has the same capacity to correct every orthodontic concern, but it’s just not the case. While aligners are more than capable of handling mild to moderate cases of crowding or other alignment problems, they just aren’t sufficient to do the heavy lifting required to correct complex cases of malocclusion or jaw alignment concerns.
Invisalign® aligners are only as effective as their ability to hold on to the teeth. Cases of very small or round teeth may make it difficult for Invisalign® to exert pressure while staying in position.
Crowding in the mouth can result in teeth that turn to accommodate their neighbours. While Invisalign® can be effective with some degree of rotation, too much twist just won’t work the way traditional braces would.
Correcting the bite sometimes requires changing the length of the teeth by sinking them further into their sockets. This requires the heavy lifting power of traditional braces to achieve.
Invisalign® is capable of bringing teeth together to close a gap along the dental arch, but asking to close a gap of more than 5mm may require brackets and wires.
Dental Work Timeline
Whether you’ve had previous restoration procedures or you anticipate needing some during your course of Invisalign® therapy may impact your candidacy. Bridges or dental implants preclude you from use of the aligners, and crowns or other restorations placed after your aligners have been made are not likely to fit once the restoration is in place. Similarly, extractions required during treatment or in preparation of treatment are not suitable with Invisalign®.
Keeping Track of Things
One thing that can be said for metal braces is that they are not removable, and are, therefore, not easy to lose! Since aligners are practically transparent by design, it is far easier to lose them when they are removed. For this reason, it is important to maintain a strict storage routine with these aligners by placing them only inside their case when not in use, and never setting them down by the sink, on a napkin or anywhere else that they could be lost when not in use. Treating aligners as you would your wedding ring is a good way to ensure that your aligners don’t get thrown in the trash accidentally, and that they don’t become Fido’s latest chew toy.
Warping and Breakage
While breakage is possible when wearing braces, the risk is far increased when wearing aligners. Drinking hot liquids with your aligners in is likely to warp the precise shape necessary to achieve success with Invisalign®. Remember, these aligners are made to be thin and discrete, so even unconscious clenching and grinding at night could break the aligners. If you wake in the morning with sore temples, jaw, or neck and shoulder pain, it is wise to discuss this with your dentist prior to beginning your course of Invisalign® therapy. Your dentist may be able to offer medications that will keep your muscles relaxed at night and subsequently minimize your headaches and discomfort during the day.
In terms of staining, it is important to note that any food or beverages consumed over the course of your wire braces therapy should be consumed with their potential for staining in mind. While staining the teeth is possible while undergoing a course of Invisalign® therapy, the staining is likely to be more consistently distributed than when wearing wire braces. This is because the brackets that hold your arch wire are cemented to the teeth, resulting in a small area in the center of each tooth that will not be susceptible to staining (the part of the tooth concealed by the bracket). Consuming stainers regularly can result in uneven staining, something that can be quite noticeable when the brackets are removed at the end of your orthodontic treatment. Your dentist will clean and polish away surface stains after removing your braces, as some staining is to be expected, but limiting staining beverages over the course of treatment is your best way to mitigate the potential for visible uneven staining.
Hygiene and Potential for Harm
In the same way that crowded, crooked teeth can be a bacterial paradise, adding metal braces to the mouth offers more surface area for bacteria to hide and grow. When wearing metal braces it is crucial to maintain a diligently actioned hygiene routine. Brushing after eating is a great habit to develop early in the process of wearing braces, and flossing is non-negotiable.
Flossing with metal braces can be a bit difficult to get used to for the first few days, but with the right tools and some patience you will have your hygiene routine down to an art before you know it! The key to flossing with braces is to thread the floss under the arch wire before beginning the process, as this will allow access to the spaces between each tooth. If you’re having trouble threading the floss between the wire and your teeth, we recommend visiting your local drugstore to purchase what is called a floss threader. This simple device is more rigid than regular floss, making it easier to pass behind the wire. Simply thread the floss through the loop at the end of the floss threader, and then use the pointed side of the floss threader to pass behind the wire, pull through, and floss away!
One of the things that patients using Invisalign® in Edmonton appreciate is their ability to remove the aligners for cleaning. After each meal, the aligners should be removed while you brush and floss before being returned to the mouth until the next mealtime. Invisalign® wearers should not overlook the need for as rigid a hygiene strategy as with metal braces. This is because the aligners fit so closely to the teeth that wearing them while food debris and bacteria are present on and around the teeth virtually traps the acids, sugars and food debris against the teeth while they are broken down by bacteria – and your saliva won’t have any access to help flush any of it away. The result can be risk of gingivitis and decay.