Clear Aligners vs Braces: What’s Your Best Option for 2024?

Aligners vs Braces: How they compare

Ever had that moment when you catch your reflection and think: ‘If only I had straighter teeth’!

This can happen when you look at yourself in a selfie or a friend’s Instagram share. Or, horror-galore, when you’re (otherwise) admiring yourself in a wedding or birthday snap. 

There’s really no shortage of concerning life moments here. 😬

Well, guess what? 

There is a discreet, rigorously tested/science-backed, and highly effective solution to this problem. One that doesn’t:

  • Compromise your looks in the least (because it’s transparent!) 
  • Steal your dental comfort (is practically painless – or only minimally so)
  • Force you to stop eating and drinking (coffee, for instance) the things you love (because it is easily removable – unlike traditional braces)
  • Mess with your mouth’s hygiene

We’re talking about clear aligners (a.k.a invisible braces), of course.

A woman holding clear aligners - aligners vs braces blog post
What a typical clear aligner/invisible braces tray looks like!

But first, we want to explain the case for teeth aligners vs braces:

Your top two options in Pakistan (if not globally) for getting the straightest dental/jaw structure and smile possible!

Consider this blog your comprehensive guide to the subject 👨‍🎓.

We’ll discuss – briefly – what clear aligners are and how they compare with traditional braces in terms of manufacturing materials, orthodontic treatment procedure and duration, cost (read our detailed piece on the price of braces/aligners in Pakistan), hygiene requirements, and more.

At ClearPath Ortho, Pakistan’s first FDA-approved and clinically accredited clear aligners producer, we’re all about empowering our customers and affiliated orthodontists (teeth doctors) with the right, expert-verified information – the reason why we pen these posts.

Let’s dish! 🏃‍♂️

Why have braces been around for that long (and what they’re good at)?

A Pakistani male wearing traditional metal braces - trying not to look too self-conscious.
A young lad wearing traditional metal braces, attempting to look comfortable

To understand the true benefits of clear aligners, you’ll need to understand why traditional braces have been popular over the years.

Metal braces have been the old-school – rugged and painful (ouch!), yet effective – way to straighten your teeth till now, primarily: 

  • Due to their cheaper cost 
  • Because one set is normally kept fixed throughout the treatment duration (one-year minimum – generally)
  • Since they move your teeth gently and in a prolonged manner, making them suitable for very complicated orthodontic treatments 

Now, extending this last point, braces are effective for complex dental misalignment (malocclusion) cases, sure. 

But let’s not forget that complicated dental emergencies are a rarity in relation to the far more common and annoying bite issues, orthodontic alignment concerns, pesky teeth gaps, and crowding troubles people generally tend to suffer with.

In many orthodontist-determined cases, braces can be a complete overkill (and we mean this in terms of long-term cost, too).

Some quick ‘dental braces and aligner types’ 101

In case you want to probe a little deeper – know your options.

Orthodontic TechnologyBrief Description
Traditional Metal BracesThese braces are widely recognized and commonly used. They are comprised of metal brackets that are bonded to the front of teeth and connected with metal wires.

Their downsides include being visible, bulky, and irritating to the gums and cheeks. This realignment approach is also well-known to be uncomfortable for most patients.
Ceramic BracesCeramic braces, resembling metal braces in design, utilize tooth-colored or clear ceramic brackets that seamlessly blend with the natural color of teeth. This feature renders them less conspicuous than traditional metal braces, thereby appealing to both adults and teenagers seeking a somewhat (though not entirely) discreet orthodontic option.

Their downsides include being much more fragile than metal braces and raking in more expensive.
Lingual BracesInstead of being attached to the front of teeth like traditional braces, these braces are placed on the backside, making them virtually invisible from the front. They offer effective treatment while remaining hidden (unless someone broadly opens their mouth), which explains their popularity among those who value aesthetics.

Their downsides include being difficult to clean, requiring longer adjustment periods and higher costs.
Clear AlignersThese aligners are a set of custom-made, transparent plastic trays designed to gradually align your teeth and bring them into proper alignment. They are widely regarded in the orthodontics industry as being the most comfortable and aesthetically pleasing realignment recourse for patients among existing technologies. Their only downside is the fact they only work for mild to moderate orthodontic issues and are not suitable for more severe/particularly advanced teeth straightening cases.

In recent years, there has been a huge surge in demand for alternative orthodontic options that offer more discreet and comfortable realignment solutions. This trend has been largely driven by the desire to avoid the social stigma associated with traditional metal braces, especially among adults in professional settings. Clear aligners – as well as clear retainers – represent the latest, most effective, and practical manifestation of this interest.
Self-Ligating BracesThese braces utilize a specialized clip, rather than elastics, to aid in guiding teeth into their proper positions. By reducing the pressure exerted on the teeth and requiring fewer adjustments, the clip enhances comfort and efficiency.

Their downsides include being more expensive (in some cases) and not suitable for severe orthodontic problems.
A quick overview of common types of aligners and braces available in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Additional – every day – drawbacks

A Pakistani girl wearing invisible aligners on the left - with the same person wearing metal braces on the right. Profound difference in facial aesthetics!
A teen confidently sporting clear aligners/invisible braces on the left versus a traditional metal kit on the right. Note the stark contrast in facial expression.

There are several, but let’s stick with the main ones:

  • Braces promise a certain degree of discomfort. You’ll have to visit your dentist or orthodontist a LOT for adjustments,
  • There’s no freedom with food. You’ll have to watch out for hard and sticky eatables (nuts, grains, sweets, etc.), brush and floss well, and try not to break the wires! 
  • This ‘brushing and flossing’ regime needs to be followed after every meal 😩 and for the entire duration of the 12-month (or so) treatment. 

So…can invisible aligners keep up, if not do better, than braces?

Invisible aligners in relief.
Another relief of an invisible aligner tray

Invisible aligners are simply the latest, most cutting-edge, and comfortable way to realign your crooked teeth (even for children)

These are custom-made, snug, and clear trays that fit right, and there’s little to no risk of breakage, so you’ll just need to visit your dentist to change the tray every few weeks. And in some cases, they can even be posted to your home address.

Dental braces, however, can be a literal pain to support on occasion, and there’s the additional risk of breakage during outdoor sporting activities/contact sports, eating certain foods, and brushing. This just adds to the already numerous doctor visits you’ve got to schedule by default. 

Invisible aligners can be a bit pricier upfront, though. But when considered over the complete treatment span (including maintenance costs), they can prove more cost-effective.

Here’s why clear alignment treatment is the preferred choice for practitioners and patients alike nowadays

There are many reasons, with these being the most pressing:

  • You can take them out when you eat, drink, brush, or floss (but keep them in for 22 hours daily for the most desirable results/some models only need to be used overnight) 
  • Clear aligners are virtually invisible when worn
  • They cause significantly less irritation than conventional treatment options – and are typically painless to install
  • They are far less hectic to clean and maintain than traditional braces. Remember that the daily annoyance can compound! 

How they compare: Aligners vs Braces (check out our table!)

Here’s our experts’ table (quick checklist, if you will) listing how traditional braces fare against transparent aligners. 

You can use this as a decision-making framework for choosing between the two (put mental ticks against each feature explanation important to you – go for the option with the most ✅).

Common Orthodontic IssuesMetal BracesClear Aligners
AestheticsCan make you feel self-conscious (meaning a lot less smiling)Very discreet. Go ahead and laugh…openly 😁 
Dietary Restrictions Hard, sticky, chewy, and crunchy foods get stuck in or sometimes break the wiresJust take them off and eat whatever. Clean thoroughly afterward
Oral Hygiene ChallengesRequires thorough care. Special equipment and cleaning techniques are required. More risk of breakage and bacterial infestation (especially after meals)Just rinse the tray with fresh water and clean it with a soft brush every day
DiscomfortCan cause discomfort and soreness. Brackets & wires may injure cheeks or lips if misaligned. Orthodontic mouth installation can be a difficult, painful experienceSlight tightness after new tray use. But the equipment becomes comfortable and gentle after the first few hours
Treatment Duration1-3 Years8-14 Months (typically)
Orthodontic VisitsFrequent visits for adjustments or damage repair. Typically, physical dental impressions are required – which can lead to inaccuraciesWeekly or once every 2 weeks. Visit spans can also be distanced/spaced further depending on treatment progress. Digital/3D dental impressions provide unparalleled accuracy for custom tray manufacture
Staining RisksRisk of stain if proper brushing & flossing is not done. Certain foods or drinks may also lead to coloringThese are transparent and removable. There’s no risk of stains or discoloration when you follow wearing guidelines (even for people who smoke)
Speech AlterationUsually affects speech in the initial phase of the treatment – resulting in a ‘lisp’Minimal impact on speech – wearers’ mouths adapt quickly
Dental EmergenciesCommon issues with loose brackets or broken wires. High risk of emergencies/acute dental managementLittle-to-no risk. Just change trays according to prescription guidelines and ensure hygiene
Dental Decay RiskHigh risk of dental decay if oral hygiene is not maintained. May cause cavitiesNo risk of dental decay. Aligners are removable, which makes cleaning a breeze
Food Debris RiskCan trap food debris. May cause bad breath or plaque buildupNo risk of food debris getting trapped. Their removable nature allows proper cleaning
AdjustmentsNeeds a significant adjustment period causing added discomfort. This varies from person to personA minimal adjustment period is required only after new trays are placed. It may range from a few hours to a day. May vary from person to person
InconvenienceMay pose a risk of breakage or injury during outdoor sports or other activitiesMinimal risk as aligners are removable
Aligners vs Braces: Our Snap Intel for People in a Hurry!

Many people who’ve dealt with both braces and aligners tend to always prefer the aligner route. A thorough overview of the table pointers above can definitely make you understand why.

As a Pakistani on a budget looking for lasting & effective teeth alignment, should I choose clear aligners or braces?

Pakistani actress Hania Amir posing with a tray of clear aligners. A complementary still for our aligners vs braces blog post.
Pakistani actress Hania Amir posing with a tray of ClearPath Ortho’s ground-breaking invisible aligners

We’ll give it straight:

If you’re on a particularly tight budget but are seriously concerned about your teeth and smile structure, we’d recommend going for old-school braces. Just bear in mind all the drawbacks of this traditional option we’ve discussed here – so you know exactly what you’re getting.

But (and this is a big one) if you want the perfect – picture-worthy – facial aesthetics, minimum-to-zero discomfort, lasting treatment efficacy, fantastic oral hygiene, and no food-and-social guilt, you already know what we’d recommend!

Just fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page ✍ – our friendly customer services team will get you started on your aligners journey quickly.

Without anyone being the wiser about how you’ve suddenly transformed into a stunner!

Kind of like this person 👇😉.

Hania Amir posing with a pair of invisible braces by ClearPath Ortho-Pakistan!
Because commitment to proper treatment brings the best smile return!

We hope we’ve resolved all your teeth aligners vs braces queries.

If you’ve still got some questions or need further specialist guidance, you know what to do 👇.


BOOK YOUR CLEARPATH ALIGNER HERE

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