Clear Aligners vs. Traditional Braces: Which Is Right for My Teen?

Feb 02, 2023
Clear Aligners vs. Traditional Braces: Which Is Right for My Teen?
Your teen needs orthodontic treatment. Do you go for clear aligners or traditional braces? While choices can be confusing, there are some key things to think about to help you make the right decision for your teen. Read on.

When you were growing up, chances are the dilemma about getting braces probably revolved more about whether you needed them than what kind to get. After all, the embarrassing metal mouth approach to orthodontics didn’t present many choices unless you count with or without headgear.

Thankfully those days are long gone, but the number of treatment choices available today can leave parents wondering how to decide what’s best for your teen. For most parents, it all comes down to traditional braces versus clear aligners

There’s not one absolute right way to address orthodontic issues, cautions Dr. Jean Seibold McGill at McGill Orthodontics in Easton and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Ultimately it comes down to treatment goals and what fits best in your teen’s lifestyle.

Clear aligners versus traditional braces

Let’s jump in by addressing the elephant in the room. It would make decision-making a lot easier for parents if we could say that clear aligners were more effective or somehow better than traditional braces or vice versa. The truth is both treatment options are tried and true methods for addressing a variety of bite and alignment issues.

While each treatment method uses a different approach, both can successfully gently move teeth into optimal position over time. You can arrive at the best treatment decision by zeroing in on your teen, their habits and lifestyle, and how that matches what each treatment option offers. 

Think visibility, removability, comfort, and treatment time

Here are a few things to consider in making your decision:


The most obvious difference between clear aligners and traditional braces is their appearance. Clear aligners offer a more discreet treatment option that’s virtually undetectable. Traditional braces are made from a variety of materials but rely on a system of wires and brackets attached to each tooth. The brackets connect to each other with an archwire, which applies pressure on your teeth to move them slowly into proper alignment.

At McGill Orthodontics we offer patients both Invisalign® and Spark™ clear aligner systems and a metal braces treatment option. 


The fact that clear aligners are removable sounds like a no-brainer as far as pluses go. After all, they can be removed for eating and drinking so your teen doesn’t have to deal with picking food out of their teeth after every meal like with traditional braces. 

Routine at-home hygiene to keep their teeth clean and healthy is much easier as well. They can just brush and floss as they normally would.

However, if your teen has a habit of losing things or is forgetful, then the perceived benefit of being able to remove clear aligners might not match up well with your teen’s lifestyle. Remember there’s no wrong answer here. It’s all about what’s going to work best for your teen. 

Comfort and convenience

Similarly, clear aligners are often lauded as the more comfortable and convenient way to go when it comes to orthodontic treatment. While it’s true that both treatment options require an adjustment time for your teen to grow accustomed to the feeling of the pressure on their teeth, clear aligners’ thin plastic material is much more gentle to soft tissue like the inside of their lips or cheeks than traditional braces.

If your teen doesn’t handle mild discomfort well or you don’t see them patiently dealing with messy dental wax to prevent the wires from traditional braces from irritating their mouth, perhaps clear aligners would be a better choice.

Treatment time

Although treatment time differs depending on the diagnosis and how many teeth need to be moved, clear aligner treatment plans tend to be shorter and require fewer office visits. Typically your teen will switch to a new set of aligner trays every couple of weeks. They’ll come to the office for periodic checkups so our orthodontic team can monitor their progress and make adjustments as needed.

Get started with the right diagnosis

Making the best decision on treatment options starts with an accurate diagnosis. Our highly experienced, well-trained team performs a thorough exam and conducts diagnostics like advanced digital impressions to pinpoint the problem so we can create the best treatment plan for your teen. 

We’ll discuss the options available and together with you and your teen decide whether clear aligners or traditional braces are the best match for your teen’s treatment goals and lifestyle needs.

To get started on creating your teen’s best smile, contact McGill Orthodontics to schedule an orthodontic consultation. Call our office most convenient to you or request your appointment online today.