Mature man at dentist making painful face
Treating Tooth Sensitivity: The Hot & Cold of It
July 31, 2023
Happy elderly woman enjoying her beautiful toothy smile looking to the mirror in the dental office
Comparing Dental Implants and Dentures: Selecting the Optimal Treatment
August 31, 2023

Aligners vs. Braces & Retainers: Choosing the Right Option for Teeth Straightening

Hand holding a model of bottom teeth with braces and an Invisalign clear aligner above it

Braces and aligners are two popular options for achieving a straight and well-aligned smile, but what’s the difference between them?

Whether you’re an adult wanting to straighten your teeth or your orthodontist has recommended a teeth straightening treatment for your child, you probably have questions about which option is best.

In this article, we’ll explore the types of braces and why retainers are necessary after any orthodontic treatment so that you can start your journey to a straighter smile!

Using Braces or Aligners to Straighten Your Teeth

What do braces do to the teeth?

Braces gradually shift teeth into proper alignment through gentle, continuous pressure, requiring regular adjustments.

What type of braces can be used to straighten teeth?

  • Metal braces: Traditional metal braces are the most common teeth straightening method, particularly if your teeth need to be repositioned significantly. Metal braces consist of metal brackets that are attached to the teeth and connected with a thin metal wire, which is adjusted at regular intervals.
  • Ceramic braces: Ceramic braces use brackets and wires that are clear or tooth-coloured, giving them a more natural-looking appearance that is less visible compared with metal braces.
  • Lingual braces: Lingual braces are placed on the inside surface of the teeth, meaning they’re not visible from the outside. These clear braces are popular with people seeking a more subtle teeth straightening solution.

What are Clear Aligners?

Clear aligners, such as Invisalign®, offer a discreet way to straighten teeth without visible wires and brackets. Crafted from smooth, transparent plastic, they gently guide teeth into place over time.

Starting with a personalised plan from an orthodontist, custom-made aligners gradually move teeth into their desired positions. They’re also removable, allowing for easy cleaning and meal enjoyment.

Regular check-ins with an orthodontist ensure progress stays on track. In just a few months to a year, a remarkable smile transformation can occur.

What is the best age to get braces?

Most orthodontists recommend braces for children between 10 and 14 years old when they have most or all of their permanent teeth. Braces are more effective at this age due to the jawbone still developing and being able to correct bite issues. Adults can also use braces for teeth straightening.

How much do braces cost? 

In Australia, the cost of braces can vary depending on several factors, including the type of braces and the complexity of the dental issue. On average, the cost of braces in Australia can range from $6,000 to $12,000.

When considering how much braces cost, it’s important to remember that the price of your braces will depend on your individual needs, the duration of your treatment, and any additional procedures that might be required during your teeth straightening journey.

Your dentist or orthodontist will be able to provide you with personalised advice about the cost of your braces, based on your teeth straightening requirements.

Why Are Retainers Necessary?

What are retainers?

A retainer is a custom-made orthodontic appliance used to maintain the position of the teeth after braces or other orthodontic treatments. The main purpose of retainers is to prevent the teeth from shifting back to their original positions.

Retainers can be either removable or fixed, depending on your needs and the orthodontist’s recommendation.

  • Removable retainers: These are typically made of clear plastic or acrylic material and are custom-fit to the shape of your mouth. They fit over the teeth and are usually worn overnight. Removable retainers are easy to clean and allow for proper oral hygiene maintenance.
  • Fixed retainers: Also known as bonded or permanent retainers, these are thin wires that are cemented to the back of certain teeth. They are not visible from the front and provide continuous support to keep the teeth in place. Fixed retainers are usually used on the lower front teeth, which are more prone to shifting.

How long do retainers stay in?

How long you need to wear retainers depends on your situation. Some may need full-time retainers for months before switching to overnight ones. Retainers may be necessary indefinitely to prevent tooth movement. Fixed retainers can stay for years if gum health is maintained.

Can I use retainers instead of braces?

Retainers are not designed as a substitute for braces when aiming to straighten and realign teeth in a significant way. They are best suited for maintaining the results achieved through braces or other teeth straightening treatments such as aligners.

For major corrections, braces or aligners are needed to straighten teeth effectively in the long term.

How much are retainers in Australia?

The cost of retainers in Australia can vary depending on the type and your specific needs. On average, fixed and removable retainers may cost between $500 to $800 per arch. However, the cost may vary depending on your circumstances, we suggest speaking to your dentist who can give you a quote tailored to your needs.

Are retainers faster than braces?

Braces and retainers have different purposes. Braces are used for extensive teeth straightening by providing continuous pressure, allowing for faster and more significant changes. Retainers are used after braces to maintain the alignment of your teeth long-term. They cannot be used as a substitute for braces or aligners.

What is the downside of removable retainers?

One downside of removable retainers is the need to be consistent in wearing them. To maintain your teeth straightening results, it’s essential that you follow the instructions of your orthodontist and wear your retainers as prescribed.

Additionally, removable retainers can be lost or damaged if not handled properly. For permanent retainers, cleaning and flossing around them can be more challenging compared to removable options.

Are retainers more uncomfortable than braces?

The comfort level of retainers versus braces will vary from person to person. Braces can cause a bit of initial discomfort due to adjustments and the presence of brackets and wires in the mouth. However, you’ll most likely get used to this over time.

On the other hand, retainers are generally more comfortable as they are custom-made to fit your teeth after orthodontic treatment. Some people might find wearing retainers slightly uncomfortable at first, but this tends to subside after the initial period.

Start Your Journey Towards Straighter Teeth

As you can see, braces and retainers serve very different purposes for straightening teeth. Your orthodontist will be able to tailor a plan to suit your specific dental needs, so make an appointment now to discuss your options.

If you’re ready to start your journey towards straighter teeth, we’d love to help you achieve the perfect smile you’ve been dreaming of!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *