Removable vs. Fixed Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontics is the name given to dental treatment that focuses on resolving positioning problems that affect the teeth and jaws. This could be an overbite, underbite, or crossbite, or teeth that are gapped, crooked, twisted, or overlapping. An orthodontist is the name of the professional that has received special education and training in how best to resolve these issues. One of the suggestions that may be made to bring your teeth and jaw into the correct position is to use either removable or fixed orthodontic appliances.


What Are Removable Orthodontic Appliances?

Advances in dental technologies mean that there is now a wide range of different removable orthodontic appliances to choose from. Most of these come in the form of a brand of clear aligners, such as Invisalign.


Clear aligners are worn over the teeth in the same way as a mouth guard, slipping over the top and covering the teeth down to the gum line. Most clear aligners are custom-designed for each specific patient and are used as an alternative to conventional braces. This is because they can be designed to apply gentle force to the teeth to move them into a new and better position. Clear aligners of this type are usually supplied in a treatment series that must be worn in the right order for them to be effective. Treatment usually takes anywhere from 3 to 12 months depending on your individual circumstances.


Other common removable orthodontic appliances that you may come across could include:



These are worn to prevent teeth from moving back into their original places, prior to either braces or clear aligner orthodontic treatment.


Removable Space Maintainers

These preserve the gap created by a missing tooth so that there is space for an adult tooth to erupt.


Lip and Cheek Bumpers

These allow for extra space between your teeth and lips/cheeks for freer movement of your teeth.



Specialist equipment used to slow the growth of the upper jaw and pull the front teeth back into a regular position.


The Benefits of Removable Orthodontic Appliances

The main benefit of removable appliances is that they can be taken out if needed. This is particularly important in the case of clear aligners since patients can enjoy all of their favorite foods and drinks without compromise. They simply need to remove their aligners at mealtime and place them into their case, putting them back in after eating and then brushing their teeth.


Another key benefit of removable appliances is that they can be removed so that you can brush and floss your teeth properly. This helps to ensure that your teeth and gums are as clean and healthy as possible, preserving them and your oral health. Braces make it much more difficult to sufficiently brush your teeth.


What Are Fixed Orthodontic Appliances?

Fixed orthodontic appliances refer to braces – a treatment with which most people are familiar. Braces are the most common orthodontic treatment used to correct the position of the teeth and jaw and have been used successfully for decades.


Braces are comprised of a series of brackets and wires which are attached to the teeth by your orthodontist and cannot be removed at home. They work in the same way as clear aligners, applying gentle and persistent force onto the teeth and jaw to move them. Treatment times for braces can vary significantly, anywhere from a few months to several years depending on the extent that the teeth and jaw need to move. You’ll also need to attend regular appointments for your braces to be adjusted.


Are There Any Benefits to Fixed Orthodontic Appliances?

Braces remain a popular treatment for orthodontic issues affecting the teeth and jaws, and they can correct even the most severe misalignments. This often makes them the best course of treatment for patients with serious issues affecting their mouth and jaw. They are also typically less expensive than clear aligners, and this affordability remains a big part of their appeal.



If you would like more information about orthodontic appliances, or to discuss any of the appliances listed here with us, please contact our experienced dental team at kksmiles in Marietta, Georgia at 770.830.3700 today.