It’s like planning a journey. First you have to decide what your goal is – your destination.
For example: do you want some parts of your teeth corrected, but can accept some things that are not ideal, but not visible when you smile
(eg a cross-bite on the back teeth)? – let’s say this represents a journey (goal) of 10 miles. Because this focuses on the cosmetic aspects of your teeth, we also call this cosmetic teeth straightening or cosmetic orthodontics.
Or, do you want teeth alignment as close to ideal as possible? – then this would represent a journey of perhaps 40 miles. We call this comprehensive teeth straightening or comprehensive orthodontics.
Once this has been made clear, then you can chose the vehicle that will get you there, for example a car or a motorbike (representing fixed or removable braces).
Generally speaking, fixed braces are stronger and for certain tooth movements like rotated teeth, they will work faster than removable braces (a car is stronger, it can carry more load than a motorbike).
However, some patients do not care so much about the TIME that treatment takes, but are more concerned about what the braces LOOK like whilst they are worn.
A patient that wants the teeth to move faster will be more likely to chose fixed braces, however if you want the braces to be less visible, then clear aligner systems like Invisalign may be preferred.
A simplified pros and cons list is here:
Pros: faster tooth movement, no “remembering to wear the braces”, generally costs less than clear aligners.
Cons: more visible, more commitment to oral hygiene,
Removable Braces (clear aligners such as Invisalign):
Pros: less visible, easier cleaning of teeth and aligners
Cons: slower tooth movement, relies on your diligence to wear the braces, costs generally higher.
It is very important to discuss your particular situation with your dentist, so that you get both the right treatment TYPE (goal, cosmetic or comprehensive) and SYSTEM (fixed/removable).
Dr Jan Einfeldt
Fixed brace image credit: www.ghorthodontics.com