Fixed versus Removable Orthodontic Devices

Written by: Sam Ghosh

A model mouth display with braces

Updated on November 17, 2022

Patients often ask us which treatment option is best when beginning their orthodontic journey. Orthodontic appliances come in two varieties: fixed and removable. Both devices apply continual pressure to move teeth into proper alignment but provide different treatment experiences.

Fixed Orthodontic Devices

Metal braces are the most popular type of fixed orthodontic appliance. Metal bands or special dental cement are used to bond fixed orthodontic appliances to the teeth. Fixed appliances are not removable and must be removed by a professional at the end of your treatment.  Braces are constructed from a variety of components, such as elastics, plastic ligatures, and stainless steel wires and brackets.

Removable Orthodontic Appliances

Removable appliances are not bonded to the teeth and can be removed by the patient throughout treatment. 

Aligners are the most-used type of removable orthodontic appliance. Invisible aligners are a great option for people who want to straighten their teeth without having visible brackets. 

For aligners to be effective, you must wear them for 20 to 22 hours each day. You can remove them to eat, drink, and perform your oral hygiene routine. After wearing each aligner for about two weeks, you will move on to the next one in the series. This will continue until your teeth are straightened. Popular choices for these types of devices are Invisalign and SmyleAlign. 

After you’ve finished your orthodontic treatment, removable retainers may be provided to aid in maintaining your teeth’s alignment. Once your long-term treatment is over, your orthodontist will fit you with a retainer to help you keep your beautiful smile from shifting. Typically, it is suggested you wear these retainers at night.

Factors Your Orthodontist Will Consider

If you have dental malocclusion, you may be unsure whether non-removable or removable braces are the best option for your teeth. However, your orthodontist will create a treatment plan for your specific smile. You should get a thorough examination and receive diagnostic photos in order to choose the optimum form of orthodontics for your teeth. An orthodontist uses computer software, molds, and x-rays to examine your bite and determine how severe your dental misalignments are. 

Age. No matter what kind of malocclusion is present in their mouths, it is suggested that children always wear a fixed appliance to correct their teeth. 

Plastic aligners are not proven to be safe for children for a variety of reasons, one of them being the risk of choking. A set of aligners may also not fit well in just two weeks due to a child’s rapid growth. Finally, taking proper care of plastic aligners is necessary to guard against damage from bad habits. Children would need to have a meticulous cleaning regime for their teeth and aligners as well as keep them secure when removed for meals at school.

Case Severity. If you have gaps or crooked teeth, your orthodontist will advise you whether traditional braces or removable braces are best suited to fixing your malocclusion. While traditional braces are required for more severe malocclusion, plastic aligners are suitable for teenagers or adults with mild to moderate misalignments. This is due to the fact that metal or ceramic braces’ wires and brackets may put extra, unnecessary pressure on your teeth.

Follow Your Treatment Plan

While you might prefer to straighten your teeth using removable aligners, non-removable braces may be required. Fortunately, there are traditional braces available that are less noticeable, with clear or color-matching ceramic brackets and clear wires.

Dr. Sam Ghosh and the whole team of professionals serving Allentown and Pottsville are dedicated to providing patients with the most effective, comfortable, and cost-effective orthodontic treatment options available today. Contact our Allentown or Pottsville office to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.

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