What is the Difference Between Braces and Aligners?

What is the Difference Between Braces and Aligners?

May 1, 2023  |  aligners, braces, orthodontic treatment
A girl smiling with braces and a woman smiling with aligners

We all care about the health of our teeth.  


Not only does that mean we want to keep them safe from cavities, disease, and other ailments, but it also means that we want our teeth to be straight and painless inside our mouths.  


One of the best ways to transform teeth from a crooked, uncomfortable mishmash to a set of dazzling pearly whites is by using braces or aligners.  


Oftentimes, we hear our patients use the terms braces and aligners interchangeably. Though it is certainly understandable why someone might think of them as the same thing (after all, they are both responsible for straightening the teeth), there are a few distinct differences that separate the two.  


How do you know if braces are right for you? Here is your guide! 


So, what is the difference between braces and aligners? And what are the advantages of each orthodontic treatment?  


Let’s take a deeper dive! This post will answer all your questions on the difference between braces and aligners and how you can decide which is the right fit for you and your teeth! 


How are Braces and Aligners Different? 


While both straighten teeth and correct bite issues, several differences between braces and aligners may make you choose one over the other.  


Here are five key ways that braces and aligners differ.  


  • Appearance. Braces are made of metal brackets and wires that are affixed to the teeth and cannot be removed (without cause for concern). Aligners are clear plastic trays that fit over top of the teeth that usually can be removed. Aligners are nearly invisible and because of this, they are often preferred by teenagers and adults who are self-conscious about metal brackets on their teeth.  


  • Treatment time. Everybody’s teeth are different. Because of that, nobody will have the same timeline for their orthodontic treatment. A typical treatment time for orthodontics is 18 months (about 1 and a half years). There are variables due to patient compliance and the complexity of the corrections.   

    • For example, many treatments call for the patient to wear rubber bands for their correction. If they do not wear rubber bands for the number of hours recommended this could make the treatment time longer. This is true for aligners also. Aligners need to be worn 22 hours a day. This takes dedication and persistence. 
    • It is easy to take the aligners out for a quick cup of coffee or a long lunch, however, over time keeping your aligner out for more than 2 hours a day will extend the treatment time. When choosing which method is right for you it is important to know your lifestyle and/or your child's level or responsibility.   


  • Comfort. Many people report that aligners are more comfortable than braces, but this is not entirely true. Both methods move your teeth and, at some point, can cause discomfort as the teeth move. Braces and aligners can cause some irritation of the cheeks, lips, and tongue, especially during the first few weeks of treatment when patients are growing accustomed to having a foreign object in their mouths. 

    • Aligners are made of smooth plastic, and while they still make the teeth sore as they adjust their position (just like with braces), there is less irritation of the soft tissue inside the mouth.  


  • Maintenance.  Braces need to be adjusted by your orthodontist and tightened approximately every 8-10 and then about every 4-6 weeks going forward. Meanwhile, aligners are replaced every week and it is up to the patient to keep them clean. Check-ups are typically scheduled every 12 weeks (about 3 months). 


  • Eating. Braces come with certain restrictions on food that cannot be eaten. For example, hard, crunchy, or sticky food can damage the brackets or wires inside your mouth. Damage may require a trip to the orthodontist. For aligners, patients remove them to eat, so there are no restrictions on what cannot be eaten.  


What Do Braces and Aligners Have in Common? 


As we said earlier, the main thing braces and aligners share is that they are both designed to straighten crooked teeth and correct bites. They both work by applying gentle pressure on the teeth, gradually moving them to the ideal position over time.  


Both braces and aligners can be used to treat many orthodontic issues, such as overbites, underbites, crossbites, and gaps between teeth. The result for both is attractive and functional teeth and sustainable results.  


Additionally, the cost of braces and aligners are comparable as well. Many dental insurance providers cover a portion of the cost of orthodontic treatment for both braces and aligners so either option is realistic for anyone looking to straighten their teeth or correct orthodontic issues. 


Better Treatment and Healthier Teeth at Shine Orthodontics 


Your teeth health is important.  


If you have crooked teeth, large gaps, or a misaligned bite, then you may be at risk for poor oral health. Braces and aligners are the only solution to get your teeth straightened and working as intended.  


Braces and aligners are both effective tools for teeth correction, and the choice of which option is right for you comes down to personal preference and the recommendation of your friendly orthodontist at Shine Orthodontics.  They can help you make up your mind if you are on the fence.  


Shine Orthodontics proudly serves Chillicothe, Maineville, and Lebanon with unbeaten orthodontic treatment.  


Here’s what our smiling customers had to say: 


“Our son got braces with Dr Ashley and we could not be any happier with their services!!! Highly recommend!!” - Christina Connelly 


“We love the staff and Drs at Shine Ortho. I was a patient as an adult for Invisalign and we are now excited for our daughter to begin her journey to beautiful teeth.” - Tara Lovitz 


If you are curious about how we can make you shine, reach out to your orthodontic team at Shine Orthodontics today! 


We want to hear from you! Leave Shine Orthodontics a quick Google review to tell us about the difference a shining smile made in your life!