First Things First
You want to straighten your teeth, but not sure which route to choose: Invisalign or braces? Which one is best? You’re not alone! Many people have this question, and treatment varies with each individual case. This article lays out the pros and cons of each and answers questions you might have moving forward. While you may be suitable for either option, it’s always best to make the decision alongside a licensed professional. Schedule an appointment with your dentist today to discuss which option is right for you.
Using advanced 3D technology, Invisalign corrects your teeth using a series of customized, clear, removable appliances called aligners. Over time, the gentle pressure from the aligners shifts your teeth to their correct position, resulting in a beautiful smile. Since their introduction to the market over 20 years ago, Invisalign has revolutionized the possibilities of orthodontic care. Invisalign is a great choice to achieve a healthy bite and a smile you’ll love.
Braces are the original form of orthodontic treatment and have been effective in correcting teeth for a long time. Braces shift your teeth using brackets bonded to each tooth and connected by a metal wire. The wire is then gradually tightened as the brackets move your teeth into the perfect position. Braces also come in different types: metal or white ceramic. Either produce wonderful results.
Cost: $4,800 – 6,000
Treatment length: 6-18 months
Since Invisalign uses clear, plastic retainers for treatment, they are virtually undetectable once placed on your teeth. They can straighten your teeth without being so obvious.
Invisalign is removable which means you can eat, drink, and brush your teeth whenever you want. Plus, taking the Invisalign aligners out makes them easier to clean. There are no brackets and wires to trap food and patients with poor oral hygiene do better with Invisalign.
Using a patented material called SmartTrack™, Invisalign offers a smooth material that fits perfectly around each tooth. You don’t have to worry about any painful nicks or cuts around your gums. Patients do feel some pressure when wearing new trays but rarely do they say it’s uncomfortable.
The most common reason for Invisalign being ineffective is due to lack of patient compliance. Invisalign must be worn a minimum of 22 hours a day to work properly. The aligners are removed before eating and drinking (except water). Some patients find the freedom of being able to remove your aligners at any time too tempting to stop.
More easily lost, broken, or damaged
Invisalign aligners need to be stored properly in their case when not worn, and placing them on a napkin or tissue increases the chances of breaking or losing the aligners. If the aligners are lost, the progress will be set back and you’ll have to visit your dentist to receive replacements.
Less effective for complex issues
Invisalign is not for every case. It is important to note that Invisalign is typically recommended to treat mild to moderate cases. For more advanced teeth movements braces may be a better option.
Cost: $4,500 - $5,500
Treatment length: 12-36 months
Different Types of Braces:
- Metal braces: The original form of braces. Metal brackets connected by a metal wire that are extremely effective, d reliable and convenient for patients of all ages.
- Ceramic braces: Similar to metal braces, but the brackets are clear/tooth colored to blend in with your teeth and make your braces less noticeable to the eye.
Metal braces are the traditional type most people think of when it comes to orthodontics. Today, ceramic braces are white or tooth colored. However, a metal wire is still used in either option.
Braces are made up of tiny brackets that are firmly glued to the teeth and then connected by a wire. They are in place 24/7. Nothing to remove, nothing to keep up with.
Since braces are composed of strong metal brackets and wiring, shifting your teeth to their correct position is quite predictable. People tend to trust braces over Invisalign solely because metal is involved in moving their teeth instead of plastic. Even some of the most severe cases of dental misalignment (severe overbite/underbite, large gaps, etc.) can be fixed with braces.
Braces have a less than ideal appearance given that the metal brackets and wiring are clearly visible across your teeth. Patients might feel self-conscious during treatment and avoid smiling in front of others.
Diet and Food
Foods that are hard, chewy, or sticky become difficult to eat with braces. Aside from getting stuck in your brackets, such foods can cause the arch wire to break or a bracket to dislodge from a tooth, causing the braces to become ineffective until repaired.
Bracket & Wire Complications
Incidents like a poking wire or loose bracket are more common with braces, patients find the frequent trips to the office burdensome. Also, brackets can scrape the insides of cheeks and lips which is uncomfortable.
Brackets cover up significant areas of your teeth, causing brushing and flossing to become difficult. Enamel not cleaned properly can lead to white spots or cavities. Extra diligence is needed to keep teeth clean while wearing braces.
How do I know if I’m a good candidate for Invisalign? Should I get braces instead?
While you may be ready for Invisalign, only a trained Invisalign provider can determine if you are a good candidate. If Invisalign is not right for you, your dentist can discuss other options for your treatment.
What’s the ideal age for orthodontic treatment – is there one?
During childhood and teenage years teeth are coming into position and jaw bones are maturing. Braces are typically better for this stage in life. As an adult, Invisalign starts to become a good, viable option.
Do teeth stay straight after Invisalign? What about braces?
Once you complete treatment with Invisalign or braces, a retainer is worn nightly to keep your teeth in the correct position. Failure to consistently wear your retainer can result in teeth shifting back to their previous position.
How long does Invisalign take if you already had braces?
If you have already had braces in the past and your teeth are needing minor cosmetic straightening, Invisalign could be as short as six months. If your teeth have shifted since braces, the time could be longer.
Where do I go from here?
You’ve read the pros and cons of Invisalign vs. braces, and ready to take the next step. Meet with your local dentist to ask questions, weigh options, and discuss which treatment option you’re ready to pursue. You got this! You’re one step closer to a smile you’ll love for life!