For patients who have orthodontic treatment on the horizon, being educated and informed about the process allows for a more active role during the treatment, something we believe leads to more successful results. Here at Coppe + Sears, Damon passive self-ligating braces and Invisalign clear aligner therapy are two of our most popular treatment options. Although both are designed to straighten teeth over time and improve a patient’s overall oral health, it can be helpful to know the pros and cons that come with each. Along with input from our orthodontist, Dr. Chad Sears, this will give patients the information needed to determine which of these options could be a fit for them.

Two very different approaches that produce the same great results

Traditional braces have been around for many years, and have a well-established history of successful treatment. At Coppe + Sears, we use Damon passive self-ligating braces. Traditional metal braces work by attaching metal or ceramic brackets to the teeth, then tying these together by wires and tiny rubber bands or elastics. Through regular adjustments with an experienced orthodontist, these components work together to apply gentle pressure that will gradually move the teeth into new, improved positions. Damon braces work similarly, but rather than tying a tight elastic or metal ligature around the brace to hold in the wire, they use a gentle sliding door to secure it instead. This door allows the wire of the braces to slide back and forth within the bracket to provide less friction, greater comfort, and the same effective treatment as traditional braces, often in less time.

The Invisalign system does not use a fixed orthodontic appliance like braces. Instead, it utilizes a series of removable aligners to move the teeth. These trays are custom-made of a smooth, comfortable plastic material and have small attachments that are tooth-colored. They are designed to fit snugly over the teeth, and are nearly invisible. The aligners will generally be switched out every 1-2 weeks for the next in the series as the teeth move into the desired positions over time.

The basics of braces

The most obvious difference between Damon braces and Invisalign aligners is that braces cannot be removed until treatment is complete. Braces are incredibly efficient at correcting oral issues that range from mild to complex, and capable of closing gaps and aligning teeth in less time than clear aligner therapy. This can shorten the overall treatment time, which averages around 6-30 months, but this will vary on a case-by-case basis. Braces patients will often be able to see small signs of improvement in a relatively short period of time, which can be encouraging as they embark on their orthodontic journey.

Maintenance with traditional metal braces can be a bit of a challenge, particularly in the beginning. Getting the brackets and wires completely clean can be tricky, as food particles can get stuck in the nooks and crannies, giving bad bacteria a place to multiply. Damon braces make the entire process easier. Because there are no elastic ties to attract and collect plaque, good dental hygiene can be simpler to accomplish. There are also a number of accessories available that can make cleaning easier for braces patients. Oral irrigators use a pressurized stream of water to help rinse those hard to reach places, and ortho-picks are excellent for braces-specific flossing.

Wearing braces comes with food restrictions, which can take some getting used to. Patients will need to avoid anything too crunchy or too chewy until treatment is complete to avoid damaging any part of their braces. This can include some raw fruits and vegetables, popcorn, gum, nuts, and several types of candy and sweets. For many patients, this is the steepest learning curve associated with braces treatment.

Patients in braces will have follow-up visits at regular intervals, generally anywhere from every 4-10 weeks. During these appointments, the sliding doors on the braces will be opened and the archwires will be adjusted. No pressure is required during adjustments with Damon braces, and these will typically be completed quickly so the patient spends less time in the dental chair. In the absence of the more traditional o-ring ties, the Damon system is able to use a lighter, gentler wire to move the teeth. This results in most patients experiencing very little discomfort after we change or adjust the archwire in the braces. Even if there is some slight soreness, it should only be temporary. These follow-up visits are a crucial part of successful treatment, and help ensure patients get the best results in the least amount of time.

Hand displaying Invisalign aligner

Information on the Invisalign clear aligner system

Invisalign is a relatively new method of treatment, but it has proven itself popular with both patients and orthodontists. Because it is a removable appliance, it offers a freedom and flexibility not available with fixed appliances like braces. The aligners are a convenient and efficient method for gently moving the teeth, and are particularly successful in cases that are not too complicated or severe. The clear, smooth plastic fits comfortably in the mouth, and does not tend to irritate the gums or cheeks the way that traditional braces can.

Although the end results are comparable, Invisalign uses a less invasive way to straighten the teeth. To keep the teeth moving in the directions we want them to, the trays are changed out every 1-2 weeks for the next in the series. As with braces, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how long a patient will need to wear the aligners, but the average tends to be somewhere between 1-2 years. This can vary widely from case to case, due in part to how critical user compliance is to the success of the treatment. The Invisalign system can only work if the recommended guidelines are followed to the letter. If a patient does not wear the prescribed aligners the required 20-22 hours per day, treatment results can be impeded, and extra time may be added to the orthodontic process.

The removable nature of Invisalign aligners makes them extremely easy to maintain. They are designed to be removed before eating or drinking anything other than water, so there is never an issue with food or debris getting stuck in between brackets and wires. They are also meant to be taken out before brushing and flossing, so oral hygiene is a snap. Perhaps one of the most popular features of the removable aligners is the lack of any food restrictions, which leaves patients free to eat anything they normally would while undergoing orthodontic treatment.

Invisalign patients will also have follow-up visits, usually every 8-10 weeks or so. Patients are responsible for changing aligners out at the interval recommended by Dr. Sears. This allows us to keep up with the way the teeth shift as they begin to straighten. Missing appointments or failing to change out aligners on schedule can quickly undo any progress made.

Coppe + Sears staff working with a patient

Customized treatment with Coppe + Sears

In laying out all the pros and cons of Damon braces and the Invisalign clear aligner system, it is clear to see it is a pretty close race between the two. It is worth noting that for some of the more complex dental issues, Invisalign may not be an option. This is just one reason why it is so important to work with an experienced team like ours. Dr. Sears has over 15 years experience in orthodontics, and is able to provide a number of orthodontic services to our patients including:

  • Damon passive self-ligating braces, in metal or clear options
  • Invisalign (as a Premier Preferred Invisalign Provider)
  • jaw growth modification
  • orthodontics for severe bite problems
  • treatment for patients of all ages

By creating a customized treatment plan for each patient based on their individual case and specific goals, Dr. Sears is able to craft beautifully aligned smiles that are also fully functional. If you are in Lexington or one of the surrounding communities, and would like to learn more about what Damon braces or Invisalign clear aligner therapy has to offer you and your family, we invite you to schedule an orthodontic evaluation with us by calling 781.861.6120 or clicking here.