Are Clear Aligners Really Better Than Traditional Braces?

Many people toss between clear aligners and traditional braces, wondering which one is better and which they should choose. While both work towards the goal of straightening your teeth, you can only choose one.

Wanting to have straight teeth is a worthwhile investment, but it can be a big one. Let’s have a deeper look at the common question of whether the best clear aligners are really better than traditional braces.

How Braces Work

Braces are made with metal wires and brackets mounted on the teeth. They are secured with small elastic bands and tightened every few weeks, depending on your treatment plan. When you go to your appointment to get braces mounted, you’ll typically be there for an hour or two as they cement the brackets to your teeth using dental glue.

When using braces, it will usually take patients two or three weeks to adjust to the feeling of metal in their mouth. Then, every so often, they’ll have to return to the dentist to have their braces tightened, resulting in discomfort and a tight feeling in their mouth for a day or two afterward.

How Clear Aligners Work

Clear aligners are significantly different. They are made from stiff plastic and molded to fit your teeth. When you go in for your dental appointment, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and send them off to a dental lab. At the lab, technicians will build custom aligners that fit your teeth according to the mold and aligners that will help pull your teeth into place over time.

When your aligners are ready, your dentist will often send you home with one or two sets so you can change them on your own on the predetermined date. This may be anywhere from four to six weeks. 

Are Clear Aligners Better Than Traditional Braces?

As you can see, both braces and clear aligners are used in orthodontics to help patients achieve their smile goals, but they are different. They comprise different materials, and the treatment plan for each will vary.

Fewer Dental Visits

In many cases, you don’t need to visit your dentist for an appointment to get your next set of aligners. This eliminates the need for routine visits and opens up your schedule, whether this means no more skipping school for your child or allowing you to run to that work meeting.

They’re Virtually Invisible

Clear aligners are designed to be invisible. As long as you clean them and put them in all the way, most people won’t even notice that you’re wearing them. This makes clear aligners a fantastic choice for working adults or teens that don’t want to worry about visible braces at school.

Shorter Treatment Time

Using braces to achieve certain orthodontic goals can take upwards of two years, but most clear aligner treatments last a year or less. Some plans may take up to 18 months, but this is rare.

Less Painful

One of the biggest complaints with braces is that they’re painful. It takes anywhere from two to three weeks for your mouth to first get used to the metal brackets, but with clear aligners, there’s no adjustment period. With braces, you’ll experience discomfort and tightness after an appointment to tighten the wires, whereas, with clear aligners, the discomfort will be much less.


In most cases, clear aligners are the best choice to make. If your child is very young and doesn’t have the discipline to wear clear aligners all day and clean them out, clear aligners are a better, more comfortable treatment option than braces. 

Ultimately, the issue of which is better can be subjective. In fact, there are cases where people utilize both, although not at the same time. Aligners can hold what braces accomplish, so you will get better long-term results. If you’re unsure of which is better or how you can utilize them for the best outcome, consult us today, and we’ll be happy to help advise you.

Author: Dr. Alan Wong
Dr. Alan Wong is a dedicated orthodontist who loves helping his patients achieve healthy, beautiful smiles. He is committed to providing gentle, effective care in a patient-centered environment. Dr. Wong is also a strong believer in continuing education, so he can provide his patients with the latest and greatest treatment options.