Are clear aligners effective?

One of the most common question I hear relating to clear aligners is “are they effective?” The short answer is yes. Clear aligners are an effective and convenient form of treatment for many patients. Clear aligners work on the same principles as traditional wired braces. They apply a consistent, gentle force to gradually and safely move teeth over time.  Orthodontists and dentists have been treating patients with Invisalign and other clear aligner solutions for decades. The efficacy of this treatment modality is well documented and accepted among dental professionals.

There is a more applicable question people should be asking. That is “are clear aligners the best option for me?” That is the question that I encourage my patients to consider. In weighing the different options for orthodontic treatment, there are pros and cons to each. To simplify the decision, I like to break the treatment options out into three broad categories:

  1. In-office braces
  2. In-office clear aligners
  3. At-home clear aligners

The tables below list some of the factors that I encourage doctors and patients alike to consider when deciding on the type of treatment that is best for a given patient.

TRADITIONAL BRACES (in-office):

Traditional Braces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROS

CONS

Extremely effective at treating all types and severity of malocclusion.

Braces or not very discreet and significantly alter Your appearance (even with invisible or clear braces).

Treatment progress is constantly monitored in person by a trained professional with regular appointments for adjustment.

Regular appointments to the office. Additional costs for travel, missed work/school, etc.

They always remain in so do not require self-discipline from the patient.

Difficult to clean and can make it difficult to eat certain types of foods.

Patients get to choose who delivers their treatment.

Poor brushing and cleaning can leave the teeth with marks or etching.

 

As with any in-office treatment, typically cost $4,000-$7,000+.

 

IN-OFFICE CLEAR ALIGNERS:

PROS

CONS

Discreet. Clear aligners do not significantly alter your appearance.

Still not as effective as traditional braces at correcting severe malocclusion and bite problems.

Removable. Easier to clean than traditional braces because they can be removed.

Removable. Requires the wearer to be diligent about wearing the aligners according the prescribed schedule.

Can treat a broader range of malocclusion conditions than remote clear aligners.

Additional hardware is often required to treat more severe cases which can negate some of the advantages of clear aligners versus traditional braces. 

Patients get to choose who delivers their treatment.

Typically the most expensive treatment type with costs ranging from $4,500-$10,000+.

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AT-HOME CLEAR ALIGNERS:

PROS

CONS

Cost is typically 65%+ lower than in-office alternatives.

Limited in the type and severity of malocclusion that can be treated comprehensively.

More accessible for people with economic or geographic barriers to in-office treatments.

In-person doctor visits provide greater peace of mind that treatment is progressing according to plan.

Discreet. Clear aligners do not significantly alter your appearance.

You typically don’t get to choose the doctor that prescribes and monitors your treatment.

Removable. Easier to clean than traditional braces because they can be removed.

Removable. Requires the wearer to be diligent about wearing the aligners according the prescribed schedule.

Convenience. No office visits required.

 

Treatment administered by a trained orthodontist or dentist. Many cases are reviewed by multiple professionals.

 

Treatment duration is typically much shorter than in-office alternatives.

 

 

When it comes to oral health, it is important to trust the advice and expertise of your doctor. With that said, it is also important to realize that most doctors tend to have a perspective that is influenced by three primary considerations:

  1. A comprehensive treatment philosophy. Most orthodontists will want the end result to be This isn’t a bad thing, unless it doesn’t align with the priorities of the patient.
  2. The bottom line of the dental or orthodontic practice.
  3. Which types of treatment they are most comfortable with.

A more patient-centric perspective is influenced by considerations such as affordability, convenience, self-esteem, and patient priorities. Everyone wants perfect teeth. But the simple reality is that not everyone has the time, money, or motivation required to get perfect teeth. An aesthetic improvement is all many people want or can afford. For many, it may not be worth it (or even possible) to spend an extra $3,000-$4,000 for more comprehensive treatment approach.

Dr K., DMD, CAGS, MSD 

Is Strayt Right For Me?

Clear aligners are the perfect orthodontic solution for many people. But if your teeth require complex or extreme movements, traditional braces may still be your best option. We can help you determine which path is right for you. There’s no risk when you book a scan appointment because the scan is free! Take the assessment to get started.

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