Clear Braces Versus Clear Plastic Aligners

24 September 2019
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


As you review your orthodontic options, your dental provider may mention clear braces and clear plastic aligners. Both options are more difficult to discern in the mouth than traditional metal braces. However, although both dental appliances are transparent, each option is quite different from the other.

Here is a bit of information about clear braces and clear aligners to help you better understand them.

What Are Clear Braces?

Clear braces are braces with brackets that are made of clear ceramic. The braces still include an archwire and elastic ligatures. However, they are less noticeable in the mouth than braces with traditional metal brackets. 

Like full-metal braces, ceramic braces are able to treat a wide range of orthodontic issues of varying severity. However, the cost is a bit higher. Thus, the orthodontist may suggest only having the ceramic braces applied to the front teeth and using metal brackets on the teeth in the back of the mouth.

Throughout the patient's course of treatment with the braces, the patient must visit the orthodontist for periodic archwire adjustments. These adjustments help ensure the appliance continues to administer an appropriate amount of aligning pressure until the teeth reach their desired positions. Once the teeth are straight, a retainer may be used to maintain the new alignment.

What Are Clear Aligners?

Made from an impression of the patient's mouth, clear plastic aligners are customized appliances that fit over the teeth like a specialized mouthguard. The aligners, which are made of rigid, clear plastic, can be removed by the patient at will. Thus, a patient can eat, floss, and brush without the appliance in place.

Nevertheless, the aligners must remain in the mouth for the prescribed period throughout the day to avoid a delay in treatment results. In most cases, the aligners can only be left out of the mouth for a couple of hours daily.

As with clear braces, a retainer may be prescribed to help maintain the dental alignment achieved using clear aligners.

Instead of archwire adjustments, with clear aligners, the patient replaces their current set of aligning trays periodically to progress the movement of their teeth. The patient wears each set of clear trays for a few weeks before replacing the set with the next aligners in the prescribed sequence.

Clear aligners are effective. However, they are most appropriate for people with minor or moderate alignment issues.

To find the best option to meet your orthodontic needs, schedule an appointment with an orthodontist in your local area.