Clear Aligners vs. Traditional Metal Braces

Welcome to Garfinkle Orthodontics! We understand that choosing the right orthodontic appliance can be a big decision. With so many options available, it’s essential to find the one that suits your lifestyle and orthodontic needs best. In this blog, we’ll compare two popular options – clear aligners and traditional braces – to help you make an informed choice.

In this article, you will learn about the following key differences: image for section - blog main image

Treatment Time

The treatment time is a crucial consideration for many orthodontic patients. With clear aligners, you may experience a faster overall treatment duration compared to traditional braces.

Clear aligners are designed to apply controlled and precise forces to your teeth, gradually moving them into their desired positions. These aligners are typically changed every week, facilitating more frequent adjustments. As a result, clear aligners can often achieve the desired results in around 6 months less time compared to traditional braces.

On the other hand, traditional metal braces are a reliable and time-tested orthodontic treatment option that can effectively correct a wide range of dental issues. In many cases of traditional metal braces, orthodontists use ligature ties, also known as rubber bands or o-rings. One key difference between clear aligners and traditional braces is the force application. While clear aligners apply consistent forces throughout the treatment period, the force applied by ligature ties in traditional braces can lessen over time. As a result, patients may require more frequent appointments for adjustments to maintain the optimal force levels needed for effective tooth movement.


Comfort is another significant factor that patients value during their orthodontic journey. Clear aligners are made from smooth, BPA-free plastic, which reduces the chances of irritation and discomfort in your mouth. There are no wires or brackets that can cause abrasions to your cheeks or lips. As you progress through the treatment and switch to new aligners, the adjustments are usually minimal, leading to reduced soreness in your teeth.

Traditional braces can sometimes cause discomfort, especially after adjustments. The brackets and wires can create friction against the soft tissues of your mouth, resulting in sore spots. However, it’s important to note that any discomfort experienced with braces tends to lessen as your mouth adapts over time.


For many people, the aesthetics of orthodontic treatment are crucial, especially for those in professional settings or social situations. Clear aligners are renowned for their nearly invisible appearance. They are custom-made to fit snugly over your teeth, making them almost unnoticeable when you smile or speak. This discretion allows you to undergo orthodontic treatment with more confidence and without drawing attention to your smile.

Due to their metal brackets and wires, traditional braces are more noticeable. While advances in orthodontics have introduced ceramic or tooth-colored brackets that are less conspicuous, they are still more noticeable compared to clear aligners. image for section - blog main image

Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is of utmost importance during orthodontic treatment, as proper care helps to maintain healthy teeth and gums. With clear aligners, you can easily remove them during meals and while brushing and flossing. This convenience allows you to continue your regular oral hygiene routine without any hindrance. Cleaning the aligners is straightforward and can be done with a soft toothbrush and water.

Braces are fixed appliances, which can pose challenges for some patients when it comes to cleaning. The presence of brackets and wires makes it more difficult to clean around these components, and special tools like floss threaders or interdental brushes are often required to floss effectively. Improper cleaning can lead to plaque buildup, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum problems.


The ability to eat comfortably is another important consideration when choosing between clear aligners and braces. With clear aligners, you have the advantage of removing them during meals. This means you can enjoy all your favorite foods without any dietary restrictions. Simply take out the aligners before eating, and after the meal, rinse your mouth before placing them back in.

Traditional braces, however, come with certain dietary restrictions. Sticky and hard foods should be avoided, as they can potentially damage the brackets and wires. Additionally, there might be certain limitations on what you can eat, as certain foods could get trapped in the braces and cause hygiene issues. image for section - blog main image


Compliance is a critical factor in the success of orthodontic treatment. With clear aligners, you must diligently wear them as prescribed – typically for at least 22 hours per day. Consistently following this recommendation ensures that your teeth move as planned, achieving the desired results within the estimated treatment time.

With traditional braces, compliance involves following the orthodontist’s advice regarding food restrictions and avoiding activities that could damage the braces. Failure to comply with these guidelines can lead to breakage of braces or wires, potentially prolonging the overall treatment time.


Aligners generally require less frequent visits to the orthodontist, typically every 10-20 weeks. On the other hand, braces appointments are more frequent, usually every 6-10 weeks, with a higher chance of unplanned visits due to broken braces or poking wires.

Ultimately, the decision between clear aligners and braces comes down to your personal preferences, treatment goals, and lifestyle. We recommend discussing your options with our experienced orthodontist, who can help you make the best choice for your unique needs.

At Garfinkle Orthodontics, we are committed to providing you with the highest quality orthodontic care, regardless of your chosen appliance. Your journey to a beautiful, confident smile starts with us. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward your dream smile!

We're conveniently located in SW Portland, serving Beaverton, the Pearl District, Lake Oswego, and surrounding areas.