Instead of traditional metal braces, more people are opting for clear aligners on the market such as Invisalign, Candid Co., Byte and similar products, but plenty of myths and misconceptions surround them.
“There are a lot of new clear aligner products hitting the market now, but many patients seem to be misinformed about them,” says Dr. Michael McCarthy, DMD, author of the new book The Smile of Your Dreams” (bhamorthodontics.com). “Patients should consult their orthodontist if they are confused about the issues concerning these devices.”
Clear aligners are almost invisible, are used to help adjust teeth, and are often considered a good alternative to metal braces, Dr. McCarthy says. They are customized for each patient’s mouth to fit snugly and securely. “They can also be removed by the patient for sports and eating. They can be also be easily removed and put back in place for regular cleaning of the teeth and the aligner,” says Dr. McCarthy.
The aligners, over time, will begin to move teeth both horizontally and vertically as needed, Dr. McCarthy says. Patients typically visit the orthodontist every eight to twelve weeks to receive new sets of aligners and to check on progress. Dr. McCarthy says some of the myths surrounding these products include:
- More expensive. One of the biggest misconceptions about these products is that they are more expensive than traditional braces. However, the cost is about the same.
- Not as effective as metal braces. Clear aligners work just as effectively as metal braces, even though they may not seem as sturdy, McCarthy says. However, more significant problems may require metal braces.
- Insurance doesn’t cover it. Most insurance companies that cover metal braces will cover clear aligners as well.
- The patient is too old. Braces and aligners will work well for people of almost all ages.
- Too much maintenance. Clear aligners require about the same maintenance as traditional braces and may be even easier since they can be taken out of the mouth for regular cleaning.
- There is no discomfort. People often think that because they are clear aligners and are not made of metal, they are a painless alternative. Since teeth are being shifted into a new position, it may not be a comfortable experience regardless of what type of braces are used. The clear aligners may not be as uncomfortable as traditional braces because of the absence of metal wires, but patients should expect some discomfort and gum soreness.
- Faster than metal braces. The teeth are slowly and slightly moving into position in very small increments, just as you would see with metal braces. Both types of braces take about the same amount of time.
“I think the use of clear aligners will continue to increase as more people find out about the advantages,” McCarthy says. “But they aren’t right for everyone, and you should consult with your orthodontist to determine what type of treatment is best for you.”