If you are considering straightening your teeth, improving your smile, or correcting your bite, then this post is for you! There may never have been a better time to do orthodontic treatment than right now while in quarantine and wearing masks.
One of the most common questions we get is:
Which is better, Invisalign or braces?
The answer isn’t always clear cut and it may be a different one for people depending on their circumstances.
To help you make an informed decision, we have created a comparison list of some of the pros and cons of braces versus Invisalign.
#1 Braces versus Invisalign: Esthetics and appearance; a clear difference
Possibly the most prominent and compelling reason people choose Invisalign over braces is because of the difference in appearance.
Invisalign: Uses a sequence of removable clear aligners to move your teeth into their proper position gradually. These aligners are custom-made with the latest technology to fit your teeth. They are virtually invisible when being worn.
Braces: Consists of a bracket glued onto each tooth with a wire connecting them. Even with tooth-colored ceramic braces, treatment can be less noticeable than traditional metal braces, but it is still visible and is fixed meaning they can’t be removed.
#2 Braces versus Invisalign: Effectiveness
When Invisalign first started, it was primarily used for minor orthodontic treatment. As the technology developed and advanced, so did the ability for Invisalign to treat more complex cases.
Depending on your case, both Invisalign and braces may prove the same effectiveness. Because Invisalign happens to be removable, it can be completely ineffective if it isn’t worn enough hours throughout treatment. For some patients, this requirement is enough to prevent them from achieving an ideal result and may better off with braces.
Invisalign can be used to fix:
- Gapped teeth
- Crooked teeth
Braces: Braces can treat any of the above cases and has the control and effectiveness to treat any type of malocclusion, including the most complex and severe cases. It has a long history of effectiveness as a treatment option.
#3 Braces versus Invisalign: Which is faster?
Regardless of treatment type, nobody wants to spend a ton of time straightening teeth. We get it, orthodontic treatment is not the most fun or exciting thing to do but the results are undeniable. Partly because Invisalign is typically used in less severe cases, its average treatment time tends to be less.
Invisalign: Average treatment time is only 6 to 18 months with ideal patient cooperation.
Braces: Average treatment time is between 18 months and 24 months without interruption or excessive breakages.
#4 Braces versus Invisalign: Adjustments
One of the major benefits of Invisalign over braces is the flexibility to go longer intervals without being seen in the office. Now more than ever could this be a game changer considering some of our visits can even be remote via a virtual consultation.
Invisalign: You will be given several sets of aligners at a time, which you can change at home every one to two weeks. The amount of aligners given at a time and the intervals in which you change them can be varied and your appointments can be spread out as far as 8-12 weeks if needed.
Braces: To keep your teeth moving safely and to maintain progress on your treatment, frequent adjustments must be made to your braces. These adjustments tend to be every 6-8 weeks in the early stages of treatment and may shorten to every 4-6 weeks as you near finishing treatment. Additional appointments may be necessary if you have emergencies with broken brackets or wires.
#5 Braces versus Invisalign: Comfort
Regardless of the treatment method, orthodontic treatment is typically produces mild soreness or pressure and not necessarily pain. That soreness is typical from any type of pressure on your teeth causing them to move and is a sign things are moving properly.
As far as comfort inside the mouth, Invisalign has less sharp edges and no wires that could stick the cheeks or gums and cause emergencies.
Invisalign: Invisalign is comfortable orthodontic treatment. You typically will feel some slight pressure for a few days when changing into a new aligner but there tends to be less discomfort and less emergencies than traditional braces.
Braces: Just like with Invisalign, you may feel some pressure after your orthodontic adjustments. In addition to the normal tightness from adjustments, braces may have some slight irritations from the brackets or wires against the cheeks that usually can be resolved with some dental wax.
#6 Braces versus Invisalign: Brushing and oral hygiene
Let’s face it, life with orthodontic treatment requires more dedicated and careful hygiene. The benefits of having pretty straight teeth can be negated with cavities, gum disease or permanent staining or scarring of the teeth.
Invisalign: The removable clear aligners can be taken off allowing you to brush and floss your teeth like normal. Less food and plaque tends to accumulate when using Invisalign due to the absence of all the additional hardware braces has. It is still recommended to brush or at least rinse after meals to prevent things sticking in between your teeth.
Braces: With fixed metal braces and wires, every tooth inherently becomes a food trap.
It is recommended that you brush your teeth after every meal. This will help dislodge any food or plaque stuck in your braces and wires that contain harmful bacteria. Flossing is more challenging with wires in the way, but inexpensive flossing tools can help ease the difficulty and trouble allowing you to get in between teeth a lot easier. Brushing requires a bigger commitment, making sure you cover all areas of your teeth, braces and gums.
Braces versus Invisalign: Which is better for me or my child?
The bottom line is that it is up to you! Different circumstances and variables will tip the scales one way or another. The truth is they are both terrific treatment options but some will fit certain lifestyles better than others. The majority of our younger patients (under 18) have braces and the majority of our adult patients have Invisalign.
Regardless which decision you make the best decision you can make is to straighten your teeth and improve your smile!
Having straight teeth and a beautiful smile can positively impact your life in more way than one.
To further discuss treatment options for you, our orthodontic evaluations are complimentary and do not require a referral from your dentist. Call our office or visit our website to submit an appointment request.
Peter An Truong, DDS, MS
Diplomate, American Board of Orthodontics
3963 Portola Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92602