Do aligners work better than braces?

Clear aligners, like Invisalign Weybridge, that we provide are quite different from the standard metal braces. They do have similar functions, so why isn’t it straightforward to compare them?


Providing both aligners and braces for many years has given us an interesting perspective on this debate.

Both the clear aligner and the traditional metal brace are tools that orthodontists use to correct misaligned teeth, with the fundamental of all orthodontic treatment being tooth placement. Teeth may seem static in a day to day life, but much like plate tectonics, they are very active on longer time scales. and will respond to forces placed on them over long time periods, shifting their position. Hence why so few dental practitioners are eager for babies to suck dummies or pacifiers, as it can alter the position of their front teeth.

The controversy around clear aligners in the early days of their adoption in the 2010s was, could they provide the necessary force to progressively move teeth? There had been many early attempts with plastic dental splints, but they were found to be ineffective, so could aligners do it? 

With Invisalign Weybridge, we know exactly how this brace does it. The development of the clear aligner revolves around extensive use of computer modelling, using a base model of a human mouth as a starting point. This is then calibrated with a scan of the patient’s teeth, to give a starting position. Then, an orthodontist trained to use the software can re-design the tooth positions into a well meshing, aesthetically pleasing state; the end result of the brace.

From these two ‘frames,’ the software calculates a smooth transition of tooth movement and determines the minimum force required to alter the tooth’s position, as well as the angle that the forces need to be applied from. With this information, a set of clear aligners can be made with the ability to generate these forces when worn over the teeth, using only the elastic properties of the plastic aligner.

The traditional metal brace has an anchor point for each tooth, with each of these points clamped on to the arc wire, connecting them. Once fitted, this is worn for the duration of the treatment. Periodically, you will attend an orthodontic appointment for readjusting and tightening of the brace moving the teeth into their new positions.

So how do they differ?

The Invisalign Weybridge aligner may not be permanently fixed in the patient’s mouth, but it does have to be worn almost constantly day and night to be considered effective. The forces applied by the aligners are carried out more efficiently. So they are only effective at altering the position of non-molar teeth. 

The metal brace can be used on a wider variety of orthodontic issues and are effective even in the most severe cases, but require larger adjustments, making them far more uncomfortable. There is also added inconvenience of cleaning after eating and their appearance.

If you can use a clear aligner, we would recommend that you do, to alleviate some of the inconveniences of the metal option.