Clear aligners like Spark™ and Invisalign® completely changed the landscape of teeth straightening. Before these options were widely available, the only way to get straighter teeth was with traditional braces. However, clear aligners aren’t the answer for everyone. 

At ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Clackamas, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. Gary Chapman can evaluate your teen’s jaw, mouth, and teeth to see if traditional braces or clear aligners will deliver better and more permanent results.

Aligners vs. braces

Braces and clear aligners are both designed to achieve the same goals: a straighter, more even smile. They both work in similar ways as well; exerting steady, low-impact pressure on teeth that need to be shifted to encourage the roots to move through the bone of the jaw. 

Either option can be used by Dr. Chapman to correct issues with your teen’s smile, which may include:

  • Crowded or gapped teeth
  • Crooked or misaligned teeth
  • Bite issues

The first difference between the two options is aesthetic. Traditional dental braces shift and straighten your teeth using wires attached to metal brackets. The wires are tightened periodically as the teeth shift position.

Clear aligners use a series of customized trays that are designed to be worn almost continuously, even when your teen is sleeping, but are practically invisible. As their teeth move, they change the trays out to the next one in the series, until the treatment is complete and all teeth are aligned correctly.

Why clear aligners are so popular

When it comes to teens, it’s a no-brainer: of course they would rather have an invisible tray over a bunch of metal brackets and wires in their mouth. Clear aligners mean an easier time and a faster result for your teen:

  • They can be removed for easy brushing and flossing
  • They don’t require constant dental office visits for adjustment
  • They’re more discreet and comfortable 
  • They deliver results more quickly than traditional braces

This might seem to indicate that your teen should certainly get aligners, but there are some cases that just may not respond as well.

Why your teen might need traditional braces

There are a few reasons you may decide that traditional braces are better for your child:

Severity of teeth crowding

If your teen’s teeth are severely crowded due to a small jaw, aligners might have a harder time urging the teeth into a more natural arch. In other cases, a single tooth might be far out of line, making it difficult to create aligners that fit comfortably in the mouth. Braces could work better in such situations.

Level of maturity

Aligners are easy to lose or damage, so your teen needs to be responsible enough to keep track of them, keep them clean, and store them properly. Additionally, their aligners won’t work unless they’re worn 22 hours out of every 24, so your teen needs to be old enough to make that commitment and keep it.

Making the right choice

Assuming your child is mature enough and their smile can be perfected with clear aligners, there’s no reason not to move forward with Spark or Invisalign. However, if there are complications with their teeth or they aren’t very responsible yet, traditional braces might be the better option. 

To learn more and decide what’s best for your teen, schedule a consultation with Dr. Chapman to discuss your options. You can get in touch by calling 503-659-5000, or request an appointment online

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