With about a quarter of all American adults having had dental work to straighten their smile, many adults are fairly well-acquainted with the struggles of wearing metal braces. However, a newer option is threatening to overtake traditional metal braces in popularity: invisible aligners.
What Are Invisible Aligners? How Do They Work?
Invisible aligners are a new option for those seeking dental care to straighten their teeth. The removable, clear trays are fitted specifically to the patient’s teeth using 3D modeling and imagery. Slight adjustments are then made to the aligners over time to slowly push the teeth into the correct place, resulting in a straight and well-aligned smile. Because the trays are removable, they also are easier to clean than metal braces, resulting in lower risk of cavities and overall improved dental health during the course of treatment. Overall, the procedure is a simple, non-invasive, and discreet form of dental work that is growing in popularity among adolescents and adults alike.
Why Is This Becoming So Popular?
When only 35% of adults have well-aligned teeth, there are millions of adults who could benefit from some degree of dental work. However, metal braces are often difficult to care for properly, as well as being a fairly obvious addition that may attract unwanted attention for both adults and teens. Because invisible aligners are, as the name would suggest, nearly invisible, many opt for these clear plastic inserts to maintain their confidence. In fact, 47% of teenage Invisalign users (a common brand of invisible aligners) reported a self-esteem boost during treatment, compared to just 22% of teens with metal braces.
Additionally, invisible aligners are becoming an increasingly accessible treatment option. Many family dentists now offer several brands of invisible aligners, including Invisalign, ClearCorrect, SmileDirect, and many others. The wide variety of brands available means more options to consumers, lower prices, and more choices in treatment plans.
The Bottom Line: Are Metal Braces On Their Way Out?
While invisible aligners are growing in popularity, metal braces are still a common form of dental care. For cases of a severe bite problem, such as a dramatic over or underbite, invisible aligners may not be able to correct the full problem. In these cases, metal braces may still be the best option. However, for general straightening and more minor cases, invisible aligners are likely to overwhelm metal braces as the better and more common option in the near future.