Are you feeling confused by the various terms used in orthodontics when you are gathering the courage to consult for orthodontic treatment? What is the difference between “lingual braces,” “traditional braces,” and “invisible aligners”? In this article, we will focus on understanding what “traditional braces” and “invisible aligners” are, and how they differ.
傳統矯正 Traditional Braces
Orthodontics has a long history of development, with theories and treatments dating back to around 1880. Initially, treatment involved using metal bands and wires to bind around the teeth. With material advancements, it has evolved into what we now call “traditional braces,” which involves attaching metal braces and wires to the teeth.
隱適美隱形矯正 Invisible Aligners
“Invisalign” is the company that pioneered the use of invisible aligners, beginning in 1997, and has since become the largest invisible aligner company globally. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign emphasizes comfort and aesthetics by using clear aligners that wrap around the teeth to achieve tooth movement.
矯正原理 Principle of Orthodontic Treatment
Whether it’s “traditional braces,” “lingual braces,” or “invisible aligners,” the principle of tooth movement is the same: applying a light and continuous force to the teeth, causing the alveolar bone to absorb on the side of force and generate new alveolar bone on the opposite side, resulting in tooth movement in the direction desired by the orthodontist. Although the principle is the same, there are differences in the diagnosis process and wearing experience between traditional braces and Invisalign. The following table will be used to compare and highlight the 9 differences between the two, allowing you to understand where the differences lie and determine your own needs.
隱適美與傳統矯正的比較 Comparison between Invisalign and Traditional Braces
Invisalign uses transparent, removable aligners to move teeth, making it difficult to notice when taking photos and reducing the impact on appearance, especially in important events.
Traditional braces, on the other hand, use metal brackets and wires that are visible when smiling and require time-consuming adjustments by a dentist when removed. Although there are now ceramic braces that are less noticeable, they still use metal wires, which can be problematic for those with strong aesthetic concerns.
Let’s start by comparing the adhesives used on teeth during the treatment. Traditional braces use brackets that are much larger than the small dots used by Invisalign, which can cause mouth sores and cut the mucous membrane during the initial stage of treatment.
In addition, traditional braces tend to cause more discomfort during wire changes compared to Invisalign, which only requires replacement of aligners. As someone who has undergone traditional braces, I remember struggling to eat french fries immediately after a wire change, as I could not bite into them and had to soak them in saliva to soften them before biting.
飲食自由度 Dietary Freedom：
Because Invisalign aligners are removable, there are few restrictions on diet, although it is recommended to avoid hard or sticky foods when aligner buttons are attached to the teeth to prevent detachment. Traditional braces, on the other hand, require that patients avoid “hard, sticky, and heavily pigmented” foods to prevent bracket or wire detachment and staining. Additionally, fish with small bones are not recommended, as the braces can slightly affect the sensitivity of the mouth, making it more difficult to detect small bones.
The same logic applies to oral hygiene. Removing Invisalign aligners is similar to brushing before orthodontic treatment. Traditional braces require more attention to brushing and flossing, as the brackets and wires can create hard-to-reach areas where food debris can accumulate. As a result, some patients with poor oral hygiene habits may experience more cavities after orthodontic treatment. Invisalign aligners are much easier to clean than traditional braces and are more suitable for patients with a history of cavities or gum disease.
回診次數及間隔時間 Frequency and Interval of Follow-up Visit：
The treatment approach for Invisalign is as follows: Using big data to allocate the treatment stages from 0 to 1 (0: before orthodontic treatment, 1: final position of the teeth) all at once. After confirming the treatment plan with your doctor, the doctor will receive all of your aligners during the treatment period. The advantage of this approach is that the doctor can provide you with extra aligners all at once, which you can replace by yourself at home. You can then come back to the doctor for a follow-up visit every one and a half to two months to confirm that the teeth are following the treatment progress. Therefore, if you are busy, the interval between visits can be longer.
With traditional orthodontics, the dentist needs to adjust the braces and replace the elastic fatigue rubber bands, so it is necessary to visit the dentist for a checkup and treatment every 3-4 weeks. The interval between follow-up visits is shorter than that of Invisalign, so the frequency of follow-up visits is higher.
緊急狀況 Emergency Situations：
With traditional orthodontics, there may be situations where the braces or wires come off, or the wire is too long and pokes the cheeks. Usually, these situations need to be handled by visiting the dentist. Traditional orthodontics may also experience situations where brackets fall off, which do not require an immediate visit and can be fixed by sticking them back on at the next visit to reduce the frequency of visits.
電腦模擬 Computer simulation：
The biggest difference between Invisalign and traditional braces is that they can use software to simulate the future position and movement of teeth during the treatment process. This makes it easier for the doctor and patient to communicate, and the patient can more intuitively understand what their teeth will look like after correction. In contrast, traditional braces can only use similar cases to help patients imagine the results.
In the video, you can clearly see one of my patients’ treatment plan, which includes the 58 pairs of aligners, the movement of the teeth, and the final position. With this information, patients can easily communicate with their doctors and imagine the final position of their teeth after correction.
隱適美隱形牙套真的這麼理想嗎？隱適美會失敗嗎？Is Invisalign really that ideal? Can Invisalign fail?
Looking at the comparison chart, it seems like invisible orthodontics is very ideal. However, Invisalign only works when it is worn, relying heavily on the patient’s compliance.
The strengths of Invisalign include: aesthetics, a more comfortable correction process, easy to clean, suitable for busy patients who do not have time for frequent appointments. Its weakness lies in its extreme dependence on the patient’s wear time. Invisalign aligners are ineffective when left in the case; they need to be worn on the teeth for 20-22 hours a day to effectively move the teeth. Traditional orthodontics, on the other hand, works 24/7 because the braces and wires are adhered to the teeth, eliminating the risk of forgetting to wear them. However, traditional orthodontics has issues with cleaning and discomfort when the wires are tightened. In addition, Invisalign requires a longer lead time from the mold taking, treatment planning and discussion, to aligner production, taking about a month and a half, which is not suitable for patients who are in a rush to begin treatment. Both traditional and invisible orthodontics are effective methods of treatment, and patients can choose the best option based on their individual needs by considering the above chart.
我適合隱適美嗎？Is Invisalign suitable for me?
I has listed several points below, and if you have the following needs, Invisalign may be more suitable for you than traditional braces.
1.美觀需求 Aesthetic requirements:：
Perhaps you are a speaker, flight attendant, or model who does not want to show a mouth full of metal braces while speaking, or you do not want others to know that you are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Invisalign is more likely to meet your needs in terms of appearance.
2.常出國或出差的商務人士、忙碌的學生 Business travelers who frequently travel abroad、Student who’s very busy：
Compared to traditional braces, which require a visit to the dentist every two weeks, Invisalign offers more flexible appointment times, allowing you to visit the dentist every 2-3 months or even 6 months. This is suitable for people with less fixed schedules. In addition, the Invisalign system includes virtual consultations, which can provide you with complete medical information even if you are in a different location.
3.害怕看牙的疼痛 Afraid of dental pain：
Ｉ will never forget the time when he had traditional braces and after changing the wire, he went to eat Ikea french fries, and his teeth hurt so much that he had to soften the fries with saliva before he could eat them. Among Uncle’s Invisalign patients, the proportion of complaints about tooth pain after changing the aligners is significantly lower than that of traditional braces.
4.重度科技迷 Heavy technology enthusiasts：
Do you know that Invisalign is listed as a technology company? From the beginning, Invisalign used digital impressions to make the aligners, and the treatment process relied on AI and big data from 10 million patients worldwide to calculate the optimal treatment plan. Even when the doctor explains the treatment plan to you, it can be very high-tech, with computer animation simulations allowing you to see the movement direction and final arrangement of your teeth, making it easier to discuss with the doctor and achieve the desired effect. These are areas where traditional braces cannot compete.
Which of the above four categories do you belong to? If you belong to any of them, Invisalign may be a good choice for you.