The discussion around the best solutions for misaligned teeth is ongoing. Various considerations should inform a patient’s choice of whether to go for traditional metallic braces or clear aligners. It is also advisable to consult an orthodontist to assess your situation and determine the right treatment. Here is a look at how metallic braces and clear aligners compare.

What are Metal Braces, and How Do they Work

Metal braces apply continuous, gentle pressure to the teeth to gradually move them into their desired position. The braces consist of metal brackets attached to the teeth with a unique adhesive and connected by wires that are adjusted over time to shift the teeth gradually. The brackets are typically made of stainless steel or ceramic. This is a design feature that ensures the braces are small and unobtrusive.

The archwire, which runs through the brackets, is made of a flexible alloy. It can be tightened or adjusted as needed to move the teeth. Over time, the pressure from the archwire causes the teeth to shift, and an orthodontist must regularly alter the braces. Adjustments ensure that the teeth continue moving in the right direction. While metal braces are a very effective way to straighten teeth, they require extra care and maintenance. Patients need to be careful to avoid hard or sticky foods that could damage the braces or cause them to come loose, and they also need to brush and floss regularly to keep their teeth and braces clean.

What are Clear Aligners and How Do they Work

Clear aligners are an orthodontic treatment that relies on a series of clear, removable trays to shift the teeth into their desired position gradually. Each set of aligners is custom-made for the individual patient using 3D digital imaging technology.

Clear aligners are typically made of transparent plastic and are virtually invisible when worn. Patients wear each set of aligners for a specified amount of time. Generally, the period lasts 1 to 2 weeks before proceeding to the next stage in the series. As the patient progresses through the aligners, their teeth gradually shift into the desired position. Each aligner is designed to gently press on the teeth to move them slightly over time. This pressure results in a significant shift in the position of the teeth.

Clear aligners are ideal for treating many orthodontic issues, including crooked or crowded teeth, gaps between teeth, and bite problems. They are also popular with patients who prefer a more discreet orthodontic treatment option, as the clear aligners are virtually invisible when worn. While clear aligners can be a highly effective orthodontic treatment option, they require high patient compliance. Patients must wear their aligners for the recommended amount of time each day, generally 22 hours, and switch to the next set in the series as directed by their orthodontist. Each new set guides the teeth into a different position.

Patients must also brush and floss regularly to maintain good oral hygiene and clean aligners.

Do Metal Braces and Clear Aligners Serve the Same Function

Yes, metal braces and clear aligners serve the same function: to straighten teeth and correct orthodontic issues. As mentioned above, both use the gentle pressure approach to shift teeth to the desired position over time.

The main difference between metal braces and clear aligners is the method of treatment delivery.

Metal braces consist of metal brackets and wires attached to the teeth and adjusted over time by an orthodontist. Clear aligners are a series of clear, removable trays custom-made for individual patients. Clear aligners are generally considered a more discreet orthodontic treatment option, as they are nearly invisible when worn, while metal braces are more noticeable.

However, dentists could recommend metal braces in some cases where more complex orthodontic issues need to be addressed.

Ultimately, the choice between metal braces and clear aligners depends on the patient's orthodontic needs, preferences, and treatment goals and with an orthodontist’s recommendation.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Metal Braces

Aside from personal preferences and needs, it is also best to consider the advantages and disadvantages of metal braces. Considering they have been in use the longest, here are some benefits that have made metal braces the go-to option for teeth alignment.

  1. Advantages of Metal Braces 


Metal braces effectively treat many orthodontic issues, including crooked teeth, overcrowding, gaps, and bite problems. They are also customizable to suit each patient's individual needs.

Metal braces are durable and can withstand significant wear and tear. This is partly the reason they are effective. Unlike other orthodontic treatment options, such as clear aligners, metal braces are always working to straighten the teeth, as the patient cannot remove them .


Metal braces are customizable in several ways. The brackets and wires are adjustable to suit each patient's specific needs, depending on the type and severity of their orthodontic issues. The brackets can also be customized to fit the size and shape of each tooth. This customization allows for a more precise fit and better control over the movement of the teeth.

Additionally, there are different types of brackets available. They include traditional metal brackets and ceramic brackets designed to blend in with the color of the teeth. The archwire, which runs through the brackets, can also be customized to suit each patient's needs. The wire can be made of different materials and adjusted in thickness and tension to achieve the desired results.

Finally, metal braces can be customized with different colored elastics that hold the archwire in place. Patients can choose various colors to make their braces more fun and personalized.


Metal braces are generally more affordable compared to other orthodontic treatment options. Most braces cost between $3,000 and $7,000. You will not have to pay out of pocket with the right dental insurance plan.

Metal braces are made of stainless steel or titanium. Both of these materials are relatively inexpensive. Further, the manufacturing process is relatively simple compared to other types of braces. So this low-cost advantage is reflected in the purchase prices.

Additionally, metal braces typically require fewer visits to the orthodontist, which can help you reduce the overall treatment cost.


As pointed out, metal braces are made of titanium and stainless steel. Both materials are known for their robustness and durability. However, durability should not be mistaken in that the braces cannot break. They are not fully proof. However, by the time the braces need replacing, you may not need them. The braces can also be damaged when subjected to extreme trauma, like the force experienced in contact sports, when someone punches you, or when you are involved in a car crash that causes trauma to your teeth.

With proper care and maintenance, braces can provide patients with straighter, healthier teeth for many years.

  1. Disadvantages

Not Aesthetically Pleasing

One of the potential disadvantages of metal braces is their appearance. Metal braces are highly visible and can be aesthetically unappealing to some patients, particularly adults or teenagers, who are self-conscious about their appearance. The brackets and wires used in metal braces can be bulky and noticeable, making some patients uncomfortable or embarrassed.

Need for Regular Maintenance

Maintenance is another potential downside of metal braces. They require regular adjustments and maintenance by an orthodontist. He/she must periodically adjust the wires and brackets to ensure that the teeth move into the correct position. These adjustments typically require a visit to the orthodontist every few weeks and it can be time-consuming.

Additionally, metal braces require more extensive oral hygiene practices, as the brackets and wires can trap food particles and make brushing and flossing more difficult.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are a favorite alternative to traditional braces for many patients. There are some potential pros and cons to using clear aligners. Here is a look at some of them:

  1. Advantages

Aesthetically Pleasing

Appearance is the greatest selling point of clear aligners. Clear aligners are virtually invisible, making them a more aesthetically pleasing option for patients who are self-conscious about wearing braces. The aligners are made from a clear, smooth plastic material custom-molded to fit the patient's teeth, making them nearly invisible when worn. This advantage can appeal to adult patients who feel self-conscious about wearing traditional metal braces, which can be more noticeable and conspicuous.

Clear aligners can help patients feel more confident and comfortable during their orthodontic treatment without drawing unwanted attention to their braces.

Clear Aligners are Comfortable

Clear aligners are made from a smooth, flexible plastic material. This means they are less likely to cause irritation or discomfort to the mouth and gums than traditional metal braces, which can have sharp edges or protruding wires.

Clear aligners also do not use metal brackets or wires, which can be uncomfortable for some patients. Instead, they use a series of custom-made plastic trays that gradually shift the teeth into their desired position over time. The trays are designed to fit snugly over the teeth without protruding or having sharp edges. Additionally, clear aligners do not require any adjustments or tightening by an orthodontist, which can be a source of discomfort for patients with traditional braces. Patients switch to new aligner trays every few weeks, gradually moving their teeth into the desired position.

Aligners are Removable

Unlike traditional metal braces, which are affixed to the teeth and can only be removed by an orthodontist, the patient can easily remove clear aligners. Oral hygiene practices, like brushing and flossing, thus become easier and more effective. Patients can clean their teeth more thoroughly without the interference of brackets and wires.

However, it is worth noting that you must wear clear aligners for at least 22 hours per day. Only then can they be effective. You should only remove the aligners when eating or drinking (other than water) and practicing oral hygiene. Failure to comply with this requirement can delay treatment and result in less effective results.

  1. Disadvantages

Aligners Could be More Costly

Clear aligners’ price tag ranges from $3,500 to $8,000. They cost slightly more than conventional braces, particularly for more complex orthodontic cases. The cost of clear aligners varies depending on factors like the severity of the orthodontic issue and the length of treatment.

Dental insurance plans could provide coverage for orthodontic treatment, including clear aligners.

Verify with your insurance provider to ascertain the coverage included in your plan. Your provider will also tell you what out-of-pocket expenses you should pay.

While clear aligners could be more expensive than traditional braces, many patients find them worth the investment due to their comfort, convenience, and aesthetic appeal. Some providers of clear aligners offer flexible payment plans or financing options to help make treatment more affordable. Engage your orthodontist to know what options you have.

Ultimately, the cost of clear aligners should be weighed against the potential benefits and outcomes of treatment and your budget and preferences.

Clear Aligners Require Strict Compliance

Unlike traditional braces, which are fixed in place, clear aligners are removable and must be worn for at least 22 hours per day to be effective. This means patients must be disciplined and committed to wearing the aligners as instructed to achieve the desired results.

It can be tempting for some patients to remove the aligners more frequently than recommended, particularly during meals or social situations. However, doing so can compromise the treatment's effectiveness. It will also prolong the treatment's overall duration. Patients who cannot wear the aligners as directed are not ideal candidates for clear aligner treatment.

Additionally, clear aligners require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure their effectiveness and longevity. They must be removed and cleaned after eating or drinking anything other than water. Additionally, you should gently clean the aligners using a soft-bristled toothbrush and clear, anti-bacterial soap. Failure to clean the aligners properly can result in bacterial buildup or discoloration.

Why At-Home or Mail-in Clear Aligners are a Bad Idea

At-home or mail-in aligners are generally not recommended, as they lack the oversight and expertise of a qualified orthodontist. These types of aligners typically involve taking an impression of the teeth at home, which is then used to create a series of custom-fitted aligners that are shipped to the patient.

While using at-home or mail-in clear aligners seems convenient and cost-effective, at-home aligners can be risky and could not be as effective as treatment overseen by a qualified orthodontist. Without proper supervision and monitoring, there is a risk of misalignment. This could result in bite problems or other orthodontic issues. Furthermore, at-home aligners do not typically include the same level of customization and personalization as in-office treatments. An orthodontist can carefully evaluate each patient's unique dental needs and adjust the treatment plan. This ensures that the patient has the best possible outcome. A one-size-fits-all approach cannot replicate this level of individualized care.

The American Dental Association (ADA) and American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) are against the use of at-home or mail-in aligners. They have issued consumer warnings against using at-home or mail-in aligners. They have emphasized that without direct supervision and individualized care from a qualified orthodontist, patients risk serious oral health problems. Thus, they encourage patients to consult with an orthodontist in-person to receive a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan to achieve the best possible outcome for their oral health.

The Procedure of Installing Metallic Braces Compared to Clear Aligners

It is also best to look at the installation procedures for metallic braces and clear aligners. This information will help and is also pivotal in choosing an option. The procedures are quite different.

Installing Metallic Braces

  • Consultation — The orthodontist will evaluate your dental health and determine if braces are the right treatment option.
  • Preparing the teeth — Your teeth will be prepared for the braces by cleaning and drying them during the visit.
  • Bonding — A bonding agent to the teeth is necessary to attach the brackets using dental cement.
  • Archwire — The orthodontist will thread an archwire through the brackets and secure it using elastics.
  • Adjustments — Over time, the orthodontist will adjust the tension on the archwire to shift the teeth into the desired position gradually.

Installing Clear Aligners

  • Consultation — You must consult an orthodontist when installing metallic braces. He/she will evaluate your dental health and determine if clear aligners are the right treatment option.
  • Digital Impressions — The orthodontist will use a digital scanner to create a 3D model of your teeth.
  • Treatment plan — Using the 3D model, the orthodontist will create a customized treatment plan with clear aligners.
  • Wearing the aligners — You will wear each for a specified time, typically around two weeks, before moving on to the next aligner in the series.
  • Progress check-ups — The orthodontist will periodically check the treatment progress and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.

While both procedures aim to correct misaligned teeth, they differ in their methods. Metallic braces use brackets and archwires, while clear aligners use a series of custom-made trays. Your orthodontist will determine the best treatment option based on your needs and dental health.

Find an Hawthorne Dentist Near Me

Both metal braces and clear aligners are effective orthodontic treatments. Both correct misaligned teeth and improve overall dental health. Metal braces are particularly suitable for individuals with complex dental issues. These include severe crowding or bite problems.

Clear aligners, on the other hand, are more suitable for individuals with minor dental issues. It is also an option for those who prefer a more discreet treatment in Hawthorne. Consult with us, Ganji Dental, today to evaluate what option best suits your situation. Contact our team at 310-643-8045 to book your appointment.