The Ortho Battle: Invisalign vs. Braces

In the world of orthodontics, traditional fixed orthodontic appliances (FOA) are king. Almost all patients, especially children and adolescence are treated using metal braces, but that might all change after a few studies have shown that clear aligners might be more beneficial.  According to a recent article from the Dental Tribune, a team of German researchers compared the oral health status, oral hygiene and treatment satisfaction of patients who were treated with FOA and the Invisalign aligner system and found very interesting results.

It isn’t a big secret that traditional FOA can complicate oral hygiene during treatment, interfering with patients’ periodontal health. And the appearance of conventional braces is quite a turnoff to most adults. It’s no wonder that alternative orthodontic techniques have been developed to address these very issues. While clear aligners are discreet, it was unclear as to whether they were as effective as their FOA counterparts, which is what this study aimed to find out. Researchers examined 100 patients who underwent orthodontic treatment, half using FOA and the other half using Invisalign, over a 6 month period. Clinical exams were conducted before and after treatment to evaluate periodontal condition and any changes. Patients also completed a questionnaire regarding their personal oral hygiene and dietary habits as well as their satisfaction with their treatment. All patients received the same instructions about oral hygiene, including the use of toothbrush, dental floss and interdental brushing three times daily.

After collecting the data, analysis showed no differences between patients in regards to periodontal health and oral hygiene prior to treatment. During orthodontic treatment though, researchers found notable changes in periodontal condition in both groups. Specifically, they found that gingival health was significantly better in patients treated with Invisalign. The amount of dental plaque was also less for those using aligners, but the difference was not significant. The questionnaire found that patients who were treated with Invisalign were more satisfied than their FOA counterparts. Only 6% of the Invisalign patients reported impairment of their general well-being during treatment, compared to 36% of the FOA patients. FOA patients also reported higher gingival irritation (56% compared to 14%), being kept from laughing for aesthetic reasons (26% to 6%), having to change eating habits during treatment (70% to 50%), and having to brush one’s teeth for longer and more often (84% to 52%).  After analysis, researchers felt confident concluding that “orthodontic treatment with Invisalign has significantly lower negative impacts on a patient’s condition than treatment with FOA, both with regard to gingival health and overall well-being.”

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