Metal braces have long been the go-to option for straightening crooked teeth. However, they do look pretty obvious on the front of your teeth, and they can cause other issues like soreness from rubbing and poking wires. If you want to straighten your teeth with fewer inconveniences, you have two major options: Invisalign and clear braces. Here's a look at both options and how they compare.
Clear braces are often confused with invisible aligners like Invisalign, but the two solutions are actually different. Clear braces are shaped like metal braces with brackets and wires. But the brackets are clear. You can see them on the surface of your teeth when you're close up but not really from a distance. The wires are usually pretty thin and inconspicuous. Clear braces can be used to treat any dental alignment issues that would be treated with metal braces, so they're an option even if your teeth are rotated or very poorly positioned.
The main downfall to clear braces is that, like metal braces, they can cause some discomfort, especially during the first few weeks of wear. You'll also have to be careful to brush around them thoroughly so you don't end up with tooth decay from plaque that's been sitting on and around the braces. You'll need to stay away from very crunchy and chewy foods as these might damage the braces.
Invisalign works quite differently from metal or clear braces. Instead of brackets and wires, you have clear plastic trays that you can pop in and out of your mouth. You can take them out when you eat, which means no foods (even crunchy and chewy ones) are off limits. You also remove the aligners to brush your teeth, making it easier to keep them clean. The clear trays are almost invisible in your mouth, so nobody will really notice that you're straightening your teeth.
The downfall of Invisalign is that it's not always an option for those with more serious dental alignments. If you have a tooth that needs to be rotated or pulled down in your jaw, you might have better results with braces. Also, with Invisalign, you have to remember to change the trays and to take them out when needed. This isn't a major challenge for most people, but can make them a little tougher for busy, less-responsible teens to wear.
To learn more about these more attractive tooth straightening options, talk to your dentist.