Aligners vs. Braces - St. Louis Orthodontist

When it comes to orthodontic treatment, two popular options that come to mind are aligners and braces. Both aligners and braces are effective in correcting dental misalignments and achieving a straighter smile. However, they differ in terms of their approach and characteristics. Aligners, often made of clear, removable plastic trays, provide a discreet and flexible option, while braces, consisting of metal or ceramic brackets and wires, offer a more traditional and comprehensive method. Understanding the distinctions between aligners and braces can help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the right orthodontic treatment for your needs.

What Are Braces?

and creates a straighter smile. They typically involve metal brackets bonded to the teeth, along with metal bands on the back teeth. An archwire, attached to the brackets using elastic o-rings, applies gentle pressure to shift the teeth into their desired positions. The archwire is periodically changed, with thicker wires used over time to exert greater force. Additional components like rubber bands or springs may be used for specific alignment needs. While traditional braces are visible due to their metal components, there are also more discreet options available, such as ceramic braces with tooth-colored or clear brackets.

The primary goal of braces is to guide teeth into proper alignment gradually. Through the application of consistent pressure, the archwire helps shift the teeth and remodel the surrounding bone and tissues. Once the desired alignment is achieved, the archwire aids in stabilizing the teeth to prevent shifting. Ultimately, whether you choose traditional braces or a more inconspicuous alternative, the end result is a confident and beautiful smile.

What are aligners?

Aligners serve as an excellent alternative to traditional braces for individuals seeking a discreet and flexible orthodontic treatment. Made from clear plastic, these virtually invisible aligners offer a more inconspicuous option for teeth alignment. Unlike braces, which consist of brackets and wires, aligners come in the form of removable trays that are custom-made to fit each patient’s unique dental structure.

As the treatment progresses, you will receive a set of aligners, typically wearing each tray for about one to two weeks before moving on to the next one in the series. The aligners are strategically designed to exert gradual and controlled force on specific teeth, gently nudging them into better positions over time. This gradual shifting allows for a more comfortable experience compared to the adjustments associated with braces.

why ortho - braces on prop

Braces: Pros and Cons

Traditional braces have been a popular choice for orthodontic treatment due to their effectiveness and affordability. They provide precise control over the treatment process, allowing Dr. drName to improve smiles successfully. However, one disadvantage is their visibility, which can impact self-esteem, especially for older patients. The bulky components of braces may cause discomfort and irritation in the mouth. Oral hygiene can be challenging, requiring extra care to clean around brackets and wires and prevent plaque buildup.

Despite these drawbacks, traditional braces remain a reliable option for achieving a straighter smile. Choosing braces should be based on individual needs and preferences, with guidance from drName. Personalized recommendations can address concerns and optimize the orthodontic experience, ensuring the best outcome for patients.

clear aligners

Aligners: Pro and Cons

There are several symptoms and signs that indicate a root canal may be needed. These include:

  • Persistent pain: If you experience persistent pain in your tooth, especially when you apply pressure or chew, it could indicate that you need a root canal.
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold: If your tooth is sensitive to hot and cold temperatures even after the source of the temperature is removed, this could be a sign of root canal problems.

If you experience any of these symptoms or signs, it’s important to schedule a consultation with St. Louis root canal dentist drName to determine if a root canal is necessary.


How do aligners and braces differ in terms of treatment duration?

The treatment duration with aligners and braces can vary based on the complexity of the case. In general, braces are typically worn for an average of 18 to 36 months, while aligner treatment can range from a few months to over a year, depending on the specific alignment needs.

Can aligners or braces fix bite issues?

Both aligners and braces can address certain types of bite issues. However, traditional braces are generally more versatile and effective in treating complex bite problems, such as severe overbites or underbites. Aligners are better suited for mild to moderate bite irregularities.

Are there any age restrictions for aligners or braces?

There are no strict age restrictions for either aligners or braces. Both treatment options can be utilized by individuals of different age groups, including children, teenagers, and adults. The suitability of each option will depend on the specific dental needs and consultation with drName.

Can aligners be lost or damaged easily?

Aligners should be treated with care to avoid loss or damage. While they are removable, it’s important to keep them in a safe place when not in use. If an aligner is lost or damaged, it is advisable to contact drName promptly to discuss the next steps and potentially obtain a replacement.

Are there any restrictions on playing sports or musical instruments with aligners or braces?

Aligners can be removed during sports activities or playing musical instruments, providing more flexibility and comfort. However, it is important to consult with drName regarding specific guidelines and recommendations to ensure the best protection and functionality during these activities while wearing braces.

Can aligners be used for teeth whitening or other cosmetic treatments?

Aligners are primarily designed for orthodontic purposes to align teeth. However, certain aligner systems may offer additional features, such as teeth whitening. It is recommended to discuss any cosmetic goals or desires with drName to explore suitable options and ensure a comprehensive treatment plan.

How often are follow-up appointments necessary with aligners or braces?

Regular follow-up appointments are essential for both aligners and braces. With aligners, you will typically have check-ups every 4 to 6 weeks to monitor progress and receive new aligner trays. For braces, appointments are usually scheduled every 4 to 8 weeks for adjustments and monitoring of the treatment progress. These appointments allow drName to assess the treatment’s effectiveness and make any necessary modifications to ensure optimal results.

Is there an orthodontist near me in St. Louis that offers aligner or dental braces?

Yes.  At our St. Louis orthodontic office we offer braces and clear aligners to patients from St. Louis and the surrounding area.  Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.