Aligners and braces are not the same

By Kenneth Piper, summer intern

…and they don’t have to interfere with your style!

One large concern many patients have is “how will my braces make me look?”  Aligner and Spring-Retainer services can be alluring with their promise of aesthetic beauty and promise to eliminate labels like “brace-face” or “metal-mouth.”  As my summer internship here draws to a close, I asked by dad to expound upon some of the pros and cons of aligners and why he steadfastly regards metal braces as the most effective and efficient method of tooth movement.

First and foremost, braces and aligners differ in their methods of movement.

One involves a mold simply pushing and literally “aligning” the teeth and the other a physical attachment to the tooth.  The attached braces allow for a significantly more precise method of movement and thus significantly more precise treatment plans and results.  In terms of precision, braces clearly outdo aligners (pun intended).

Due to superior precision, costs and treatment time can generally be reduced by around 25% with metal braces.  Whereas one case may require two years of metal braces, that same case could take 2.5 or 3 years with an aligner service. Ceramic (tooth colored) brackets are smaller and less noticeable than ever, to the point where they can be unnoticeable from just a few feet away. There are even now ceramic wires to guarantee that braces don’t severely hinder your “look.”

We also offer out-of-house alignment services, where impressions are made in the office and then shipped to the company where they can forecast the way teeth are supposed to move, and create an aligner accordingly.  Whereas a Piper aligner can be made quickly, the alternative can be more expensive, more time consuming, and less effective than regular braces treatment.

Thus, Dr. Piper recommends getting real braces 10 times out of 10.

Aligners can then be used after treatment for minor tweaks of tooth position or to correct teeth that have shifted slightly out of line.  We make “Piper Aligners” in-house, giving Dr. Piper the ability to decide the precise movements he wishes to make in a timely manner and with the expertise of our Lab technician, Jeptha.  Although aligners have their benefits and necessary uses, I maintain that braces, ceramic or otherwise, are more efficient in terms of cost, performance, and at this stage, even looks.


Blog by Kenneth Piper