Dr. Keith Bram, DDS

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

Jun 02, 2023
Traditional Braces or Clear Aligners: Which Is Right for My Teen?
Your teen is begging for clear aligners instead of braces, but you have questions that need answering before you choose an orthodontic treatment — and we’re here to answer them to help you decide which is the best option to straighten their teeth.

Braces have been the go-to treatment for crooked teeth and bite problems. And while they’re extremely effective, many teens cringe at the thought of all of that metal in their mouths. 

Enter clear aligners. In the late 1990s, clear aligners came on the scene and changed the game for patients with a less-than-perfect smile. But we understand if you’re skeptical and cautious about this newer technology and you’re wondering if it’s right for your adolescent. 

To help you sift through the facts and reviews of both types of orthodontic treatments, Dr. Keith Bram and our team at Doc Bram in Lisle, Illinois, walk through the pros and cons of each method to help you make an informed decision. 

Why straight teeth matter

Ideally, teeth grow in neat, straight lines with no gapping, twisting, or protruding. Perfectly aligned teeth fit together nicely, with the top teeth resting comfortably on the bottom set. 


Any tooth out of formation triggers a misalignment in your bite, which in turn puts pressure on the wrong places when you chew. The results are worn-down teeth, jaw pain, and a slew of other issues. 


In short, crooked teeth aren’t just a cosmetic concern — they threaten your child’s overall oral health. 

Metal braces vs. clear aligners

Metal braces and clear aligners both do an excellent job correcting alignment issues and straightening wayward teeth. And with the exception of a few complex cases, you can usually take your pick between the two. Here are some factors to consider when making your choice. 


Both clear aligners and braces are equally effective for various cases of crooked or misaligned teeth: overbite, crossbite, underbite, gaps, and overcrowding. However, braces may be the best choice for more severe issues, such as rotated teeth, problems with back teeth, or teeth requiring vertical space adjustments.


For teens, visibility (or, better yet, invisibility) may be a top priority. But we understand that as a parent, you don't want to sacrifice function for aesthetics.

Fortunately, clear aligners are as effective as braces without cramping your kid's style — and, if your child follows the treatment plan, aligners take less time. You can rest assured that opting for clear aligners is a win-win choice.


Though we periodically adjust them, braces remain affixed to your child's teeth throughout the treatment. The removable clear aligner trays come out when eating, brushing, and flossing. 

But keep in mind that there’s a risk of your teen misplacing or damaging the aligners when they’re not wearing them. If your teen can remember to wear the aligners about 22 hours a day and commits to taking care of them, this is a good straightening option.

Food restrictions

With braces, your child should avoid hard, crunchy, chewy, and sticky foods that can get trapped in the brackets and wires, inviting decay. Clear aligners can come out during meals, allowing your child to eat their favorite foods, but your teen must ensure their teeth are clean before putting the aligners back in.


Both braces and clear aligners are virtually pain-free, other than the initial discomfort as their mouth adjusts to the pressure that moves the teeth into correct alignment. They may also feel a little sore with each braces adjustment or each new set of aligners, but it's temporary and manageable.


Metal braces require more frequent office visits for adjustments. We still want to monitor your child's progress and ensure proper teeth alignment, so occasional appointments are recommended for aligner users.

Choosing the right option

In some cases, traditional braces may be the only viable option. Major jaw adjustments, severe misalignment, or complicated issues like rotated teeth all require metal braces. However, the choice between braces and aligners in many cases ultimately depends on your child's specific needs and preferences. 

If your child can stick to the program, remain committed to treatment success, and keep the aligner trays in their mouth for about 22 hours daily, they're typically a good candidate for clear aligners. 

To learn more about aligners and braces and which might be right for your teen, call Doc Bram’s friendly staff at 630-963-9280 or use our online booking tool.