Braces vs. aligners: which is the better & cheaper option in 2022

3 February 2022

Most often, aligners are the better and cheaper option for straightening your teeth in 2022.

 

Years ago, the only option for correcting your smile was to get braces. Even those with relatively minor issues — a small overbite or imperfect spacing — had two real choices: live with it or meet with an orthodontist to begin the lengthy process of getting and maintaining braces.

 

Today, there are more options for teeth straightening than ever before. Not only are several types of “traditional” braces available, but clear aligners have also become a hugely popular alternative.

But are aligners a good fit for everyone? Are they more affordable? Or are braces a better fit for some?

 

For most people, the convenience and affordability of aligners will make the choice a “clear” one. After all, clear aligners are more visually appealing, and they can also be easily removed as needed.

 

Top-rated at -home aligners, such as Byte, provide customers with a chance to experience the benefits of today’s cutting-edge teeth straightening technology, without ever having to go in for an in-office orthodontist appointment or adjustment.  However, for those with complicated or severe orthodontic issues, “traditional” braces may still be the best solution.

 

Things to consider when deciding between aligners & braces

 

Hygiene

Taking care of braces requires extra care. You likely have to follow these steps:

  • Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush after every meal or snack.
  • Brush with extra care applied to brackets.
  • Floss (at least) daily.
  • Use a tongue scraper and antimicrobial mouthwash.
  • Keep regular appointments with an orthodontist and/or dentist for adjustments and checkups.
  • Avoid foods that get stuck or caught on braces, including popcorn, caramel, nuts, taffy, gum, ice, and hard candy.

 

The ease of caring for clear at-home aligners is appealing for many. Because aligners are removed for toothbrushing and eating, aligner users should simply practice good dental hygiene habits, like regular flossing and brushing. They must also ensure that their aligners are properly cleaned, changed, and worn as prescribed.

 

Length of treatment

The length of treatment time for braces can vary greatly depending on the patient’s orthodontic needs. However, the average treatment time for dental braces is between one to three years, followed by retainer wear or application of a bonded retainer.

 

The top clear aligners on the market offer a much quicker treatment time, ranging from three to six months, followed by retainer wear – usually because they treat mild to moderate cases with shorter treatment times and less trips to the dentist.

 

Comfort

Each person who gets braces is different and their comfort level is different, too. The majority of patients will experience soreness for about a week after having braces put on, and it can take about a month for many wearers to get used to their braces.

Most people can forget they are even wearing braces after six months or so; however, the job of braces is to move teeth, and this can cause periodic pain and discomfort. Many orthodontists may recommend over-the-counter pain medication. If the pain is continuous, they may make a change to the adjustment schedule.

 

Clear at-home aligners shift teeth, so this can cause minor soreness and discomfort, especially at the beginning of treatment. Some clear aligners companies focus on comfort as part of their innovation. For example, SmileDirectClub touts their Comfort Sense technology, which uses precision laser cuts for a comfortable aligner fit.

 

Some at-home aligners take it a step further. For example, Byte focuses on a comfort fit and  the aligner kit also includes   HyperByte, a high-frequency vibrational device. Research shows that vibrational devices like these can make aligner treatment more effective, and they can also minimise discomfort and pain.1

 

Appearance

Of course, the appearance of at-home clear aligners — their near invisibility and the fact that they can be removed as needed — is a major advantage over traditional braces for most people.

 

Some types of braces offer a more aesthetically pleasing option over the most common “traditional” metal braces as well. Ceramic braces use clear or teeth-matching brackets (and sometimes wires) for a less conspicuous look. With lingual braces, the hardware is installed on the back of the teeth for a less visible treatment.

However, both lingual and ceramic braces are more expensive than traditional metal braces. Lingual braces may also be more uncomfortable or hard for some people to get used to.2

 

Convenience Online clear aligner companies  offer the ultimate in tooth-straightening convenience. Some, like Linea, require an in-person initial appointment. Others, like Byte, send a user-friendly, convenient  at-home impression kit to your doorstep.

Once it’s confirmed the candidate is a good fit for clear aligners, a full aligner set and all the accessories needed for treatment are sent — all without the need for an in-person visit, although all customers are required to have a dental check-up within the 6 months prior to starting treatment with their local dentist to get the all clear for aligner treatment. Treatment is then monitored by Byte’s customer and treatment care teams to ensure the  desired smile is achieved.

Again, clear aligners can be removed as required, which provides another element of convenience. If you have a big meeting or event where you’d prefer not to wear your aligners for a short period of time, this is an option. If you’d rather not wear them at all during the day – Byte offers Byte At-Night™, to straighten your teeth while you sleep with only 10-hour nightly wear time instead of 22 hours.

 

From start to finish, braces require more time in-office — from fittings and the setting of the brackets to ongoing in-office adjustments and checkups. Braces can’t be removed until treatment is complete, so they cannot be taken off to eat or for special events, as clear aligners can.

While braces can’t offer the ease and convenience of at-home aligners, some people enjoy in-office visits and want the in-person support of their orthodontist throughout the treatment process.

 

Cost

At-home clear aligners are much more affordable than braces, with prices of the top aligner brands (including Byte, EZ Smile, Smile Path, WonderSmile, and SmileDirectClub) ranging from around $1,899 to $2,825.

 

The cost of braces will depend on the patient’s orthodontic needs and the length of treatment, but it can range from $4,500 to $8,500. Lingual braces are more expensive, starting at around $7,500 and sometimes costing as much as $12,500.

 

 

Hygiene

Length of treatment

Comfort

Appearance

Convenience

Cost

Braces

Brushing after every meal and with extra care for brackets; antimicrobial mouthwash; regular checkups with an orthodontist, avoiding certain “problem” foods

Approximately 1 to 3 years on average

Soreness for a week after setting; approximately 6 months to adjust; random pain and soreness

Traditional metal braces require noticeable hardware; alternatives, like lingual and ceramic, are less noticeable but more expensive and, in some cases, more uncomfortable

Require regular check-ins; hardware cannot be removed temporarily

$4,500 – $8,500 (lingual braces are more expensive)

At-home aligners

Regular dental hygiene; following prescribed cleaning, changing, and wearing of aligners

Approximately 3 to 6 months on average

Minor soreness and discomfort; some brands offer advanced comfort technology (such as Byte’s HyperByte)

Clear and can be removed as needed

Aligners can be removed as needed; some brands offer a complete at-home experience while others offer a hybrid of at-home and in-office treatment

$1,899 – $3,399

 

 

Advantages & disadvantages of aligners

 

Advantages of at-home aligners

 

  • They can be removed as needed.
  • They are more affordable than braces.
  • Companies offer straightforward pricing.
  • You have the option of completing treatment without setting foot in a doctor’s office.
  • They have a shorter treatment timeline for mild to moderate cases.
  • Choose clear aligners for a near-invisible appearance.
  • Some brands offer a comprehensive and clear guarantee and warranty, such as Byte’s Byte for Life guarantee, which protects your smile for life should you comply with post-treatment requirements.

 

Disadvantages of at-home aligners

 

  • Not everyone is a candidate for aligners. Those with complicated orthodontic problems or dental health problems may not be suitable for aligners.
  • Those seeking the close and in-person support of an orthodontist throughout treatment may find the hybrid or mail-order model unsuitable for their needs.
  • They require changing, cleaning, and wearing aligners as prescribed.

 

Advantages & disadvantages of braces

 

Advantages of braces

 

  • Braces are a trusted tool in orthodontics, with modern braces dating back to at least 1819 when they were created by French dentist Christophe-Francois Delabarre.
  • Orthodontists can use braces to correct a wide range of orthodontic issues, making them a vital option for patients who have complicated orthodontic issues or needs, and who may not be suited for aligner straightening.
  • Patients who choose to get braces from a trusted orthodontist will receive one-on-one dental support provided by in-person procedures and checkups.

 

Disadvantages of braces

 

  • The hardware of traditional metal braces is noticeable on wearers. Some people may feel self-conscious or unhappy about their appearance.
  • Braces treatment typically takes longer and costs more than at-home aligners.
  • In-office adjustments and fittings can be inconvenient and uncomfortable.
  • Braces cannot be removed for special events or daily activities like eating and exercise.
  • Braces require a high level of hygienic care and maintenance.

 

Candidates for teeth straightening

 

Anyone who has a smile they don’t love may be a candidate for some type of teeth straightening. Because of their convenience and affordability, clear aligners are an ideal option for many, but not everyone is a candidate for at-home aligners.

 

Candidates for at-home clear aligners

 

Because clear aligners require that a patient wear them as prescribed in order to work, it’s important that a candidate for clear aligners is willing to wear and care for their aligners as prescribed.

 

Candidates for aligners include those with mild-to-moderate orthodontic issues. Aligners may be used for the following:

 

  • Spacing issues
  • Crowding issues
  • Rotation problems
  • Lessening the appearance of an overbite

 

Candidates for traditional braces

 

Traditional braces can help to correct any of the problems above. They can also address more complicated or severe orthodontic issues like these:

 

  • Severe overbite, underbite, or open bite
  • Severe crowding
  • Arch-length discrepancies

 

Traditional braces may also be a better option for those with certain dental issues, including these:

  • Dental implants
  • TMJ disorders
  • Dental or orthodontic issues that may require surgery

 

Braces vs. aligner FAQs

 

Are aligners better than braces?

It depends on the needs and wants of the patient. For many seeking to correct a mild-to-moderate orthodontic issue, clear aligners offer a cheaper, faster, and more convenient alternative to braces. Some aligner companies  provide straightforward pricing and payment options as well as user-friendly guarantees.

 

But aligners aren’t for everyone. Those looking for the direct ongoing care of an orthodontist will likely be more comfortable with braces treatment. For those seeking to correct a more severe orthodontic issue or those with certain dental conditions, braces may be the only option.

 

Are aligners faster than braces?

Aligner treatment — which on average takes from three to six months — is usually much faster than braces, which can take one to two years or longer. However, in order for aligners to work as quickly as possible, a patient must wear and change them as prescribed.

 

Why are aligners faster than braces?

With aligners, an impression or dental scan is the start of the process. Using this, a customised plan is designed to move teeth for an ideal smile. A series of customised aligner trays is created to gradually move teeth into their desired positions.

 

Candidates for clear aligners are those with mild to moderate orthodontic cases, unlike patients who require orthodontic appliances. Patients who require orthodontic appliances often have complicated and severe orthodontic requirements such as severe overbites or overcrowding to name a few.  Due to the nature of the candidates and their requirements – faster treatment times are attributed to clear aligner customers that have mild to moderate cases.

 

 

General References

 

How to Practice Good Oral Hygiene with Braces. Colgate. Date Fetched: April 19, 2022.

 

Tips for Good Oral Hygiene and Healthy Smiles. (May 2017). University of Illinois Chicago. Date Fetched: April 19, 2022.

 

Braces. Mouth Healthy by the American Dental Association. Date Fetched: April 19, 2022.

 

Best Teeth Aligners of 2022. (January 2022). Forbes Health. Date Fetched: April 19, 2022.

 

Braces and Retainers. Cleveland Clinic. Date Fetched: April 19, 2022.

 

Press Release Details - SmileDirectClub Introduces Aligners With Comfort Sense. (January 2021). Date Fetched: April 19, 2022.

 

Types of Braces. OralB. Date Fetched: April 19, 2022.

 

How Are Braces Put On? Learn The Basics of the Brackets. Colgate. Date Fetched: April 19, 2022.

 

How to Get Free Braces in Australia – The No Cost Option for Braces. Families Magazine. Date fetched: April 19, 2022.

 

Buying Teeth Aligners Over the Counter and What to Consider. Colgate. Date Fetched: April 19, 2022.

 

The History of Orthodontics: From Ancient Braces to Invisalign. Orthodontics Australia. Date Fetched: April 20, 2022.

 

Braces. KidsHealth. Date Fetched: April 20. 2022.

 

Medical references

 

1 The Effects of Brief Daily Vibration on Clear Aligner Orthodontic Treatment. (November 2018). Journal of the World Federation of Orthodontists.

 

2 Adverse Effects of Lingual and Buccal Orthodontic Techniques: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. (June 2016). American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.