Fixed Braces vs. Clear Aligner Therapy: Which is Right for You?

Modern orthodontics presents many options for your treatment today. Among them are fixed braces and clear aligners.

Many orthodontic patients can choose either course of treatment to improve their smile. Here is what you need to know about each technology that might help you make a decision about which one is right for you.

Fixed Braces

Fixed Braces

Fixed Braces

What are they?

Fixed braces have bands, wires, and brackets that stay in your mouth to help your doctor straighten your teeth. Bands fit around the teeth while brackets affix to the front of the tooth. Archwires are threaded through the brackets and attached to the bands. These wires are used to move the teeth into proper position over time.

Fixed braces do not take long to place. In some cases, your orthodontist can put fixed braces on in as little as twenty minutes. Then, you come in every month to have the wires adjusted to move your teeth into the proper position.

Improvements in the wire technology have reduced the amount of time needed to move the teeth into proper position. The total length of fixed braces treatment varies, depending on the case, but many cases fall into the 18-month to the two-year range for treatment. Also, with advances in technology, the new wires cause less discomfort than in the past.

The brackets materials have changed over the years. In the past, the brackets were metal. However, technology has expanded in fixed braces and today’s brackets can be metal, ceramic, composite, or some combination of materials. They are also smaller than the brackets of the past, which enables them to be placed on the back side of the teeth (called lingual braces) if desired.

The Pros for Fixed Braces

  • They can treat complex cases, more than just straightening the teeth for cosmetic purposes.
  • Braces can fix bite problems and misalignment of the teeth.
  • They close gaps and align teeth fast.
  • Fixed braces do not require you to remember anything; your doctor is managing the process to a predictable outcome.
  • You cannot lose your braces; they do their job, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

The Cons

  • While brackets have improved in terms of materials, timing, size, and color, people can see them, and not everyone is comfortable with other people knowing they are wearing braces.
  • When you first get the brackets and wires, it can cause minor discomfort.
  • When a bracket comes off, you have to go back to the office to have it replaced.
  • It can be difficult to maintain oral health, especially with flossing, when you have wires running across the surface of your teeth.
  • Certain foods are off limits during treatment to protect the braces.
  • Fixed braces can affect the way you sound when you talk.

Clear Aligners

Clear Aligners

Clear Aligners

What are they?

Serial aligner trays that you wear over your teeth can also move your teeth into proper position. The series of clear trays are designed by your doctor using a computer software to move your teeth in two-week increments into the appropriate place.

The patient wears the trays all day and night, except when they are eating or cleaning their teeth. The patient moves to the next tray every two weeks or so.

The clear aligner trays are all but invisible to the outside world. Their clear nature means you can see your natural tooth through the tray. Many people are not aware that you are wearing aligners at all.


The Pros for Clear Aligners

  • They are practically invisible to others, so most people won’t know you are wearing braces.
  • You can eat anything you want during treatment; you remove the tray, eat, and then replace the tray (after brushing and rinsing the tray, naturally).
  • You can remove them for your oral health care, making brushing and flossing much more accessible than with traditional braces.
  • The trays do not affect how you sound when you talk.
  • They are efficient for moving your teeth into position for esthetic purposes and also correcting minor to moderate bite issues.
  • You do not have to have metal and wires in your mouth, meaning you can skip the discomfort involved in acclimating to them.
  • Clear aligners used to be more expensive than braces, but these days the fees are very comparable.


The Cons

  • If you have a complicated orthodontic case, you cannot use clear aligners; they are best for esthetic cases and minor to moderate bite issues.
  • You are responsible for wearing your tray, and if you don’t wear it enough, it can prolong your treatment time.
  • You could lose your tray, which could result in an extension of your treatment.


Whichever method you choose to do it, fixed braces or clear aligners, improving your smile or the smile of someone you love using modern orthodontic treatment is an investment in proper oral health and self-confidence.  Your doctor will discuss the best modern orthodontic options for your case so you can make an informed decision that is right for you.

To schedule your free consultation today, call Bloom Orthodontics office in Long Beach at 562-421-8883.

Bloom Orthodontics in Long Beach has a long history of improving our patients’ smiles. We provide modern orthodontic treatments delivered with old fashioned excellence in patient experience. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.



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