Choosing to straighten your smile and improve your oral health with orthodontics is a big decision, and you should have all the information you need before you begin your journey. Many people ask “Are braces or Invisalign right for me?” That’s why Humphrey Orthodontics is proud to offer free consultations to patients of all ages throughout the Wentzville and St. Peters communities! When you schedule an evaluation with us, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss any concerns you have with Dr. Humphrey. Our expert team will also be happy to answer any questions you have about the treatment process. You can expect us to cover a range of important topics during this initial visit, including:
- how orthodontic treatment can benefit your smile
- which treatment options will be the best fit for your needs and goals
- any payment options that are available to you
You’ll also learn more about the differences between our most popular treatment options: traditional metal braces and Invisalign clear aligners. Since these tend to be the two options we use most often, it can be really useful to understand a bit more about both! But first, let’s go over the basics of orthodontic treatment.
How braces and aligners work
While they may look very different, braces and clear aligners are both designed to move the teeth into more optimal positions by applying constant gentle force to them over time. This aligns the teeth and jaws, improving the appearance and function of the smile. These are both excellent options for anyone hoping to achieve a healthier smile, but there are some important differences between them to be aware of before choosing which is best for you.
Traditional braces have been an orthodontic staple for years, and as such, they have a well-established history of successfully correcting a wide range of orthodontic issues. Metal brackets are attached to the teeth, then held together by a system of wires and tiny rubber bands. Modern braces have an improved appearance as well as being more comfortable than previous versions! Humphrey Orthodontics offers metal and clear braces to ensure you have a treatment that fits your lifestyle.
Braces are what we call a fixed orthodontic appliance, which simply means they cannot be removed by the patient. They’re especially effective at treating more serious or complex issues! The total will vary from case to case when it comes to treatment times, but the average with braces tends to be anywhere from 18-30 months.
Maintaining traditional braces can come with a bit of a learning curve in the beginning. Learning to navigate brushing and flossing with all those brackets and wires can take some practice, but with patience, it will become just another part of the daily routine in no time. There are even a variety of accessories available to make oral hygiene easier while a patient is in braces, like water piks to help rinse hard-to-reach places or ortho picks for braces-specific flossing.
Food restrictions are another crucial part of this maintenance—patients will need to avoid anything that can damage their braces throughout the treatment process. This includes any snacks that are crunchy or sticky, so foods like raw apples and carrots, certain kinds of candy, and popcorn are off the menu until the orthodontic process is complete.
Patients in traditional braces can expect follow-up visits about every 8 weeks. Once we ensure everything is progressing according to the treatment plan, Dr. Humphrey will change the bands attached to the brackets and may replace the wire as well. These adjustment appointments are generally pretty fast—most last no more than an hour. While there can be some slight residual soreness after each adjustment, this is only temporary.
These visits are an essential part of treatment and help ensure the patient achieves the best results in the least amount of time possible.
Invisalign clear aligners
Invisalign is our most popular alternative to traditional braces in our Wentzville and St. Peters offices. Instead of brackets and wires, this innovative system uses a series of removable clear aligners to straighten smiles. These customized trays are made of smooth high-performance plastic and they are designed to fit snugly but comfortably over a patient’s own teeth. This material won’t irritate the gums or cheeks the way braces sometimes can, and most patients adjust to them quickly.
The Invisalign system is less invasive than traditional braces, but the treatment time is still dependent on how each patient reacts to treatment. The average tends to be somewhere between 12-18 months, although of course, it can take more or less time depending on the case. With Invisalign, the treatment time will also depend on patient compliance. Those wearing the removable clear aligners must keep them in for at least 20-22 hours every day and switch them out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks as recommended by Dr. Humphrey. Failure to do so can lead to a longer treatment time and less optimal results.
Because Invisalign aligners are removable, they are incredibly easy to maintain. They’re designed to be taken out before eating and drinking anything other than water, so patients never need to worry about food getting stuck in between the brackets and wires (a leading cause of bacteria and decay.) Aligners are also removed before brushing and flossing, which makes dental hygiene a quicker process. This removability also means there are no food restrictions for Invisalign patients!
Like braces patients, those in Invisalign will be scheduled for regular follow-ups with Dr. Humphrey usually every 12 weeks. Skipping appointments or missing scheduled aligner changes can quickly undo any progress made in treatment, so it’s important to keep up with these visits.
Find the best fit for your smile with Humphrey Orthodontics
Traditional braces and Invisalign aligners each have their own list of pros and cons, but both can be excellent options for patients looking to improve their oral health and achieve a beautiful smile. By working with our experienced team, you are guaranteed to find the best treatment option for you.
If you’re ready to explore everything orthodontics has to offer you, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Humphrey in Wentzville or St. Peters. We’re committed to finding the most effective solution to perfect your smile, keep your mouth healthy, and looking good for a lifetime!