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Comparing Clear Aligners and Braces

Orthodontic technology has advanced greatly over the past few years. With clear plastic aligners becoming an increasingly popular option, many people wonder if they are the right option for their orthodontic treatment. Choosing a treatment option should not be based on aesthetics alone; there are several key aspects to compare when choosing the right option for you. We have put together a list of comparisons that we hope will help you make a more informed decision:

    Traditional braces are openly visible. Although there are more inconspicuous options such as tooth-colored brackets and braces to be placed behind the teeth, other parts like the wires, rubber bands, or metal-colored brackets are still visible. You can, however, personalize the color of your rubber bands to stand out and own your braces! Clear aligners, on the other hand, are virtually invisible, which is one of their main attractions. They are designed to minimize the appearance of orthodontic appliances to better fit any lifestyle.


    Aligners are removable, which is also appreciated by many patients. The most important thing is to remember to wear them as instructed. Clear aligners are usually meant to be worn about 22 hours a day, and not following these instructions can increase treatment duration or not effectively realign your teeth. Being removable, they also carry the risk of being misplaced or lost. WHEN NOT IN USE, ALWAYS STORE YOUR ALIGNER IN ITS CARRYING CASE, NOT IN A NAPKIN OR PAPER TOWEL! This will prevent accidentally throwing your aligner away. Braces are not removable, so there is no worry about losing them.


    Braces may feel uncomfortable at first as your mouth gets used to having metal brackets and wires. This discomfort will go away after the first few days, but may return after adjustments are made during orthodontic appointments. Many patients actually forget they have braces once they get used to them. Clear plastic aligners usually feel more comfortable because there are no metal parts that might rub or poke your lips or cheeks, but users may still feel discomfort during the first few days of getting their aligners, or when switching to a new aligner as part of the treatment process.


    Having braces creates more nooks and crannies for food particles to get trapped in. Thorough brushing and flossing are needed to make sure your teeth and braces stay clean. An interproximal brush is great for getting in between brackets, wires, and hard-to-reach areas, and floss threaders and floss picks will make flossing easier. With clear plastic aligners, hygiene requirements are the same as people who don’t have braces, although you will need to take good care of cleaning your aligner as well.

  • DIET

    Regular braces require a few changes to your diet and what foods are considered safe to eat, but these changes aren’t as drastic as some people may believe. Take care to avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods so that you don’t get anything stuck in your braces or possibly damage them, and always make sure to cut food into bite-sized pieces. Patients with clear aligners don’t need to worry about these issues, but should still avoid sugary drinks and food, which can damage tooth enamel.


    Finally, when comparing normal braces and clear aligners on their overall effectiveness, you may find that they are remarkably similar, but not entirely equal. A 2019 study published by BMC Oral Health showed that while clear aligners may generally be less effective for more intense orthodontic treatment, there was no statistically significant difference between clear plastic aligners and braces in their effectiveness. 

At Carlson Orthodontics, we pride ourselves on offering a wide selection of treatment options to ensure you find the one that best fits your needs and lifestyle. With orthodontic technology constantly advancing, we continually invest in improving our treatment results and the patient experience. Our team is committed to delivering an exceptional patient experience, and to make every patient feel like a member of the Carlson Ortho family. To discuss what treatment option is best for you, schedule a free initial consultation today or call us at the location nearest to you:

Our Offices

  • Duluth Office: 1901 South Street, Suite 2 – Duluth, MN(218) 727-3789
  • Cloquet Office: 708 Stanley Avenue – Cloquet, MN(218) 879-3794
  • Superior Office: 3701 Tower Avenue – Superior, WI(715) 392-0229
  • Hayward Office: 10541 N. Ranch Road – Hayward, WI(715) 292-5148
  • Ashland Office: 1419 Beaser Avenue – Ashland, WI(715) 682-5958
  • Ironwood Office: 250 Roosevelt Street – Ironwood, MI(906) 932-9720