Orthodontic Myths and Truths about Braces and Clear Aligners

New York, N.Y. The thought of undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces leaves some people feeling a bit uneasy, especially if they have been listening to all the myths that abound.

The myths surrounding wearing braces not only keep some people from taking a step forward and putting them on the path to straighter teeth, but it could also be holding them back from correcting orthodontic problems that impact their confidence, speech, bite, TMJ, gums, and more.

It’s important for parents and adult patients to separate fact from fiction when it comes to wearing braces or the alternatives to braces such as plastic tray aligners.

“Some of these myths become their own legend as people pass them down and around,” explains Dr. Michael Florman, a Los Angeles-based orthodontist and the chief executive officer of EverSmile, Inc. “The good news is that the alarming things people hear are about braces and aligners are usually myths.”

Here are some of the top alarming myths and truths when it comes to wearing braces:

  • Myth: You no longer need braces if you go with clear aligners such as Invisalign.
  • Truth: The truth is that braces are still the standard of care for orthodontic treatment no matter what your dentist wants to tell you, or what you read. Braces are more direct than aligners at getting your teeth straightened and aligning your bite. It is simple physics. Teeth need to be moved, right? They move better when braces are actually glued to the teeth as compared to plastic aligners that just push and pull against them.
  • Myth: Braces are a thing of the past now that aligners are available.
    Truth: Aligner companies and dentists that do not know how to perform braces may try to tell you that braces are a thing of the past, but the truth is braces are still the most used tools to straighten teeth for many reasons. Orthodontic specialists who train after dental school to become a specialist in moving teeth know that braces and aligners are just tools. Depending on the job, different tools are needed to get the best results. Easy to moderate orthodontic cases can be treated with aligners under the supervision of a skilled orthodontist. More difficult cases (moderate to severe) are better treated with braces.
  • Myth: Braces are only for kids and teens.
    Truth: The truth is that braces are for anyone who needs them, regardless of age. Many adults are still opting for braces because they are either educated about the fact that braces are still the standard of care, or they do not feel they will be compliant with wearing aligners, or their orthodontist told them they are a better candidate for braces than aligners.
  • Myth: Braces means you will be wearing metal on your teeth.
    Truth: The truth is that millions of people are opting for clear aligner trays today. There are options beyond the traditional metal braces, so those who want more discrete orthodontic treatment don’t have to worry. You have the ability to choose what works best for your lifestyle and budget.
  • Myth: It takes years to straighten your teeth with braces.
    Truth: The truth is that not everyone needs to wear braces for years in order to straighten their teeth. Some people may be able to wear them for as short as six months. You will only know how long you have to wear braces to correct the issue once you have been evaluated by an orthodontist.
  • Myth: Braces are very painful.
    Truth: The truth is that you may experience some mild discomfort at times, but you should not be in pain. It sometimes takes more time to acclimate to braces than aligners, but in a few weeks, most patients forget braces are in their mouth. If you are in pain when wearing braces, you need to contact the orthodontist to figure out what is wrong and come up with a solution.
  • Myth: You can’t eat anything when you have braces.
    Truth: The truth is that there are some foods that are off limits when you have braces, such as gum, caramel, and corn on the cob, but most foods you still get the green light for. Here is a trick when wearing braces that has shown great success with my patients. By taking smaller bites and chewing slowly, you will be less likely to damage your braces when eating foods that are on the Do Not Eat Food List.
  • Myth: My general dentist offers braces that will move teeth quickly, such as in only six months.
  • Truth: The truth is that there are companies marketing these quick-fix options to general dentists, offering them new ways to bring money into their practice and teaching them the bare bones of orthodontics. There is no technology they offer their students that allows them to treat you differently than an orthodontist can. When you begin seeing a dentist, trust is established between you and the office. In many instances, staff in those offices are incentivized to get you to start those particular programs. The truth is that to perform proper orthodontic treatment you need the correct tools, knowledge of using the tools (orthodontic specialty training), and most importantly the time to get the job done. The other truth is that if anyone is offering you these types of services, you need to ask yourself the question: why didn’t this doctor refer me to an orthodontist in the first place? Most general dentists do not perform procedures where there are dental specialists in existence for a reason, and the reason is they want what’s best for you.
  • Myth: When wearing braces, it is difficult to clean your teeth and you may end up with white spots when the braces are removed.
    Truth: The truth is that if patients wear braces and do not properly clean their teeth, white spot lesions can develop. This is a problem with some children. We instruct all children and their parents of the importance of proper oral hygiene and ask parents and kids to think of developing good skills and routines to brush and floss that will lead to success. What I have noticed over the years is that there are different types of kids ranging from good to poor brushing skills and oral hygiene. The first tip is to spend enough time brushing. One of the biggest problems with all humans is that they do not spend enough time brushing. When braces are on the teeth, brushing time needs to increase. And even when motivated, many kids just do not have the dexterity necessary to brush and floss well. We ask parents to spend time teaching their children how to brush and not miss areas that harbor food debris and plaque similar to practicing an instrument or sport. You first need a good teacher. Without the teacher (dental staff and parents), you will not have a good student. Lastly, some students are just not interested in learning. Kids that do not want to take the initiative to learn the proper way to clean their braces or spend the time needed to practice good oral hygiene are the most difficult. EverSmile has focused on helping kids clean their teeth and braces by developing a revolutionary new product called EverSmile OrthoFoam. OrthoFoam is a patented hydrogen peroxide, anionic cleaning formula for braces and teeth that helps remove plaque by breaking it down while killing the bacteria that cause white spots. OrthoFoam can be used three different ways: 1. As a foaming rinse in conjunction with brushing, 2. As an add-on “brushing booster” used alone or with your regular toothpaste, or 3. Applied to teeth in custom or stock dental trays, which is the most effective method.

Here are some of the top alarming myths and truths when it comes to orthodontic treatment using clear aligners:

  • Myth: You no longer need see a dentist and you can purchase orthodontic aligners online and have them mailed to you directly.
  • Truth: The truth is that there are many companies attempting to circumvent stare dental practice acts (laws of dentistry) and sell aligners direct to consumers. The American Association of Orthodontists sent out 36+ letters to state dental boards calling out where online aligner companies are breaking laws. Many states have already asked these companies to stop practicing with investigations underway in many others. Here is the bottom line: You need to be seen by an experienced orthodontist when undergoing orthodontic treatment. You need legally necessary orthodontic records to ensure the safety of your treatment and features of aligner treatment that can only be provided in-person. Without aligner attachments, tooth slenderizing, and other auxiliary products used when performing orthodontic treatment with aligners such as elastics, most or all of Invisalign cases would produce worse results and fewer movements. You need to have a doctor perform these procedures in an office.
  • Myth: All aligners are the same.
  • Truth: The truth is that Invisalign is the best product on the market to straighten your teeth with the proper orthodontist behind the wheel. Here is why: they flat out have the best technology with hundreds of patents, the best plastic materials on the market, the largest number of clinical cases performed, and the largest bank account which allows them to continue to innovate beyond any of their competitors. Bottom line, if you are not getting Invisalign, you are not getting the best technology.
  • Myth: Aligners stink making the aligner experience disgusting.
  • Truth: Aligners do begin to smell when you wear them, especially when you remove them from your mouth when you snack or drink. As a practicing orthodontist, and one of the top Invisalign providers in the country, we began hearing from patients undergoing treatment complaining about the same thing: how do we clean our aligners while on the go? It soon became evident that an on-the-go aligner cleaner was needed. Denture and retainer cleaners have been around for decades, allowing patients to clean their dentures and retainers at night in a soak or bath, but this did not help patients after they left their home to go to work or play. EverSmile WhiteFoam was invented to address this problem.
  • Myth: Braces are faster than aligners
  • Truth: Depending on the complexity of your orthodontic case, treatment times will vary while in braces or aligners. Aligner treatment has sped up over the years and in some instances can be as fast as braces treatment.

“Taking the time to learn more about braces and what you need to have a successful experience with them is not difficult,” added Dr. Florman. “We have made it our mission to help people with braces have a better experience, by giving them an easy way to keep them clean and whiten them at the same time. We are happy to help address some of the myths that scare people away from straightening their teeth, because there are usually great rewards in doing so.”

EverSmile has created a line of products that will help those with braces, aligners, and retainers keep their devices clean. At the same time, they will be able to clean their aligners, whiten their teeth, and freshen their breath. The products are now available in 4,600 CVS stores around the nation. The line of products includes EverSmile WhiteFoam, which gently cleans aligners or trays, EverSmile OrthoFoam, which cleans under and over braces, and EverSmile WhitenFresh, which is a freshening and tooth whitening spray that kills bacteria that causes bad breath and tooth decay.

EverSmile products use patent pending EverClean™ technology, which cleans and whitens using proprietary surfactants, solvents, and hydrogen peroxide. It breaks up organic stain particles that discolor the teeth and dental appliances.

Dr. Florman, who practices in Los Angeles, is considered to be one of the top Invisalign providers in the country and has over 25 years of consulting experience for oral care companies including for Colgate, Arm & Hammer, and others. Dr. Florman has invented multiple dental products has brought several products from inception to commercial success. For more information about the company and products, visit their site at: eversmilewhite.com.

Photo courtesy of EverSmile

Photo courtesy of EverSmile.