Which Orthodontic Treatment Is Right For Me?

If you’ve been thinking about straightening your smile with orthodontics, you may feel overwhelmed about where to start. It’s a big decision, after all, and you should have all the information you need before taking the next steps. Mahlmann & Borders Orthodontics is here to help! When you schedule a free consultation with our Richmond office, you can discuss any concerns with Dr. Lee Mahlmann or Dr. Catharine Borders. Our expert team will answer any questions you have about the orthodontic process, including the treatments that are available to you. 

Before you get started, it can be helpful to know more about the treatment options we offer and how they can give you a healthier smile. Our office uses traditional and clear braces and clear aligners, and while they look very different, these appliances work in much the same way. Both are designed to move the teeth into the desired positions over time by applying continuous but gentle pressure. This will bring your teeth and jaw into alignment and improve the appearance and function of your smile. 

The underlying mechanism of braces and Invisalign may be similar, but there are also some significant differences. We’ll explore these in more detail below! 

The basics of braces

Traditional braces have been around for more than 200 years in some form and have a proven track record of successfully correcting a wide range of orthodontic issues. Braces are a fixed orthodontic appliance, which means the brackets are attached to the teeth using a bonding agent. Dr. Mahlmann or Dr. Borders will thread a flexible wire to guide your teeth into alignment. 

Modern braces are much more comfortable than ever, giving you a better experience from start to finish. Not only is the appearance improved, but they’re also more comfortable and effective. Here at Mahlmann & Borders Orthodontics, we offer two types of braces to fit every patient’s needs: traditional metal braces and clear ceramic braces. Treatment time with braces will always vary from case to case, but the average tends to be anywhere from 12-36 months. 

Caring for traditional braces can sometimes come with a learning curve. This is especially true regarding brushing and flossing around the brackets and wires, which can be tricky initially. Although this will become easier with a little practice, there are also several tools available to help you adjust. This includes water piks to help rinse those hard-to-reach areas and ortho picks for braces-specific flossing.

Food restrictions are another essential part of oral care with braces. To protect the brackets and wires, you’ll have to avoid anything crunchy or sticky, like popcorn, chips, gum, and some candy. It can be frustrating to have these favorites off the menu during treatment, but it’s only temporary, and there are still plenty of orthodontic-approved treats available! 

Patients in traditional braces will visit us every 6-8 weeks or so for follow-up appointments. Your orthodontist will ensure that everything is progressing according to the treatment plan, then change the bands attached to the brackets. We may choose to replace the wire at this time as well. These adjustment appointments typically last around an hour, but they’re an essential part of treatment and help ensure the best results in the shortest time possible.  

All about clear aligners

Invisalign and 3M Clarity aligners are innovative systems that use a series of removable clear aligners to straighten smiles instead of brackets and wires. These aligners are removable orthodontic appliances, custom-made to fit snugly but comfortably over your teeth. Because they’re made of a smooth thermoplastic material, aligners don’t tend to irritate the gums or cheeks the way braces sometimes can.

Like braces, the treatment time with clear aligners will vary based on the particular case and how your smile responds. However, the average time in aligners is between 12 and 18 months. Clear aligners differ from traditional braces because the treatment time depends largely on patient compliance. Patients wearing clear aligners must wear the trays for 20-22 hours daily throughout treatment. You’ll need to switch each aligner out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. Failure to do so can lead to a longer treatment time and less optimal results.

Because clear aligners are removable, they’re very easy to care for! They’re designed to be removed before eating and drinking anything other than water, so you won’t have to worry about food restrictions. Aligners are also removed before brushing and flossing, which makes dental hygiene a much simpler process. 

Like braces patients, patients wearing clear aligners will have regular follow-ups at our Richmond office. These are usually scheduled for every 8-12 weeks. Skipping appointments or missing scheduled aligner changes can quickly undo any progress that’s been made, so it’s important to keep up with these visits.

Which Orthodontic Treatment Is Right For Me?

Find the best fit for your smile with Mahlmann & Borders Orthodontics

While traditional braces and clear aligners each have their list of pros and cons, both treatments are excellent options to improve your oral health and give you a straighter smile. When you choose our practice to help you achieve that, Dr. Mahlmann or Dr. Borders will create a custom treatment plan based on your specific needs, lifestyle, and goals. You can trust they’ll only recommend the best treatment for your unique smile!

If you’re in Richmond or the surrounding area and would like to learn more about the treatments we offer, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Mahlmann or Dr. Borders. Our expert team is here to help you find the most effective solution for giving you a smile that feels as good as it looks!