Invisalign vs Braces

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One of the factors that can make a great and beautiful smile is having straight teeth. Straight teeth not only look better but they are also better for your oral health since they are easier to floss, brush, and keep clean. But not everyone is born with great teeth and it actually takes a lot of effort to maintain them.

When it comes to teeth straightening, traditional braces have been the go-to solution for many years. However, advancements in technology and innovation have made it possible for people to have the option of using clear aligners instead of metal braces. These clear aligners provide a transparent way to correct your smile without the obviousness and awkwardness of braces.

When it comes to clear aligners, Invisalign is the pioneer in the clear aligner industry. You are bound to run into this brand when it comes to teeth straightening.

Technically, braces and Invisalign are both effective methods to move teeth and have them aligned properly. But which one is the better choice? Braces or Invisalign? Should you go for the trusted and proven method of traditional braces? Or should you try the new innovation of Invisalign?

This article will give you a thorough review of braces vs Invisalign by comparing the two side by side to help you make a smart and informed decision.

Invisalign vs Braces: Introduction

Invisalign

Clear aligners like Invisalign are the ideal solution for those who want a discrete way to correct their smile. Invisalign’s larges appeal to the market is the fact that they are nearly invisible.

The aligners are made out of clear plastic so they are barely visible. Invisalign aligners, in particular, makes use of a patented mater called SmartTrack, which is made out of a multilayer polyutherane plastic resin. The material is FDA-approved, safe to use, and very comfortable to wear.

Invisalign has been around for over 20 years and has been a standard for other clear aligner brands such as Candid, Byte, AlignerCo, SmileDirect, and others. Although these newer brands have emerged with a more affordable price range, they are unable to compete with the effectiveness of Invisalign when it comes to severe and complicated dental cases. You generally need to have good oral health to use these cheaper brands.

The Invisalign treatment process also comes with a free tube of whitening gel that you can use to whiten your teeth. This whitening treatment is done overnight and it is effortless. The gel can also be used to clean your clear aligner trays.

You have to know that using Invisalign has its limitations. It is not an ideal orthodontic treatment for those who have back tooth bite issues, those who need vertical tooth movements, those who need to rotate their premolars and canines, and those who need bridgework.

Basically, Invisalign may be the best option if you are a teenager or an adult who feels self-conscious or who do not want to deal with dietary restrictions.

Braces

Braces are considered the original form of orthodontic treatments. Did you know that primitive braces were found on Egyptian mummies? This method has been around for centuries!

Over the years, metal braces have developed and turned into more effective and reliable orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth, achieve a healthy bite, and get a beautiful smile.

Braces also have gone a long way from the old metal-mouth stereotype with colorful rubber bands. These rubber bands turn braces into a fashion statement that you can personalize according to your style.

There are different types of braces that you can use: metal, lingual, and ceramic.

Metal braces are the original form of braces where the brackets and wires are made out of metal. Among the three types, metal braces are the most affordable and may be fully covered by insurance.

Ceramic braces make use of a clear or tooth-colored resin for the brackets so that they can be more discrete. But since they are clear, they are more prone to discoloration if you are not careful about what you eat and drink. This makes it best for older teens and adults who can control their diet.

Lingual braces provide a less visible choice since the braces will be bonded inside of the teeth instead of the outer part. Since they are on the inside where the tongue sits, they will be less effective and are not recommended for severe dental cases. Since this type of braces requires certain expertise and are less common when it comes to straightening your teeth, this is the most expensive type of braces.

Invisalign vs Metal Braces: How it Works on Your Teeth

Invisalign

To start your treatment with Invisalign, you need to visit an Invisalign provider in your area. The provider will assess your teeth to see if you are a good candidate for Invisalign. When choosing a provider, it is best to work with an orthodontist than a general dentist. An orthodontist has more years of training and has more expertise when it comes to treatments that straighten teeth.

Once approved, the orthodontist will take pictures and x-rays of your teeth and will make an impression of your teeth, which will be used as a referral for your custom-made clear aligner trays. The aligners will come in several sets – each set is usually worn for 2 weeks before you move to the next one.

The clear plastic aligners are custom made to fit comfortably over your teeth and with the use of patented technology and state-of-the-art teeth straightening methods, the Invisalign aligners will gradually move the teeth into their correct positions without the need for wires.

Throughout the treatment, you will be asked to visit the orthodontist to get your next set of Invisalign aligners. You will also be required to go on regular exams for the Invisalign provider to monitor your progress.

After your Invisalign treatment, you will need to wear a retainer for the first three to four months for 24 hours and then only at night after that.

Braces

Braces will shift your teeth effectively and safely by bonding brackets to each of your teeth. The brackets are affixed and would move each tooth to the correct position. These brackets will be connected together by a metal wire.

Since the braces are permanently bonded to your teeth during the entire treatment, they will be moving your teeth all the time.

Throughout the treatment, you will have to see your orthodontist so that they can monitor your progress and make adjustments. When adjustments are made, they place more pressure in certain areas that need more movement.

Because of the sturdy design of braces, they are more effective when it comes to severe and complicated dental cases. Braces can give maximal grip so that even severely misaligned teeth can be fixed.

Just like with Invisalign, you will be asked to wear a retainer for 24 hours after treatment for the first few months before you can start wearing them only at night.

Invisalign vs Braces: Treatment Time

Invisalign

The treatment length for Invisalign is 6 months to 2 years but this will depend on your individual case. Invisalign has a shorter treatment time – especially if your dental case is just mild to moderate.

As for the number of office visits required, generally, you will be asked to see your Invisalign provider every 2 or 3 weeks, depending on how your treatment plan is going.

Braces

The treatment time for traditional braces is 1 to 3 years but this will also depend on your individual case. Traditional braces used to require adjustments every 4 weeks but with the help of improved technology and material, this can be stretched to every 6 weeks.

However, you should also bear in mind that there are more incidents with metal braces that will require an office visit such as the brackets being moved or knocked off when you bite into something hard or a wire getting cut.

Braces vs Invisalign: Maintenance

Invisalign

With Invisalign braces, regular brushing and flossing is a must. The clear aligners should be brushed too and soaked in a cleaning solution. Invisalign treatment also requires routine dental visits to straighten your teeth.

When you eat your meals, you have to remove the clear aligners each time and clean it before and after use. The advantage is that you do not have so many food restrictions – just the fact that you have to remove your Invisalign aligners before you eat and make sure that you clean both your teeth and the aligner trays before you put them back on.

Invisalign may be easier to clean and maintain compared to braces so it decreases your chances of getting dental decay or gum infection during treatment.

The clear aligners are removable but you have to wear them for at least 22 hours a day. Otherwise, it will not be as effective and may even cause you to extend your treatment time. So, when it comes to braces vs. Invisalign, you need to be more disciplined to make sure that you have them on for 22 hours.

Some people have difficulty using Invisalign because they could not maintain the 22 hours per day requirement. If you are one of these people, you may want to look into nighttime aligners as an alternative treatment option, wherein you only wear them at night when you sleep for about 10 hours a day.

But this treatment option will lead to a longer treatment time since you are wearing the aligners for a lesser time. Unfortunately, Invisalign does not have nighttime aligners. Some brands that carry these nighttime products include Byte, SmileDirect Club, and Aligner Co.

Braces

When you have metal braces, regular brushing and flossing is important as well. But when you floss, you need to use a special flossing thread.

Routine dentist visits are also required since you need to adjust your metal braces and do special cleaning sessions every two to three weeks, depending on the progress of your teeth.

When wearing braces, you also have to avoid certain foods so you will also be doing adjustments to your diet. A lot of food particles can get stuck on the metal brackets and wires of your braces. For example, you are not advised to eat anything sticky or hard.

Patient compliance is very important when it comes to the maintenance of braces. Since they are permanently lodged into your teeth, braces can easily trap bacteria and build up plaque if you do not brush and floss regularly. This will lead to tooth discoloration and dental or gum decay. The metal brackets and wires can also damage the enamel on your teeth which can cause tooth decay in the long run.

Braces vs Invisalign: Pricing

Invisalign

Invisalign is more expensive compared to traditional braces. The total cost will depend on your individual case. Generally, Invisalign can cost $2400 to $9000.

Factors that will be included for consideration when it comes to your total treatment cost will depend on the severity of your condition, the dental office that gives you the treatment, and the experience of your Invisalign provider. The more work needed for straightening teeth, the more it will cost you.

Some insurance policies would consider covering Invisalign treatments but they are usually partial costs up to 50%. To be sure, you should consult your insurance provider.

You can also use your FSA or HSA to help pay for Invisalign treatment. These are pre-tax money that you can use to cover medical, dental, and orthodontic treatments.

You can also check with your orthodontist if they have discounts, promotions, or payment plans to help lower the treatment cost.

Braces

The total cost for braces will also depend on your individual case. Generally, getting braces can cost you $1700 to $6000.

When it comes to insurance coverage, braces have a disadvantage since a lot of state-subsidized insurance policies will offer coverage for braces only when it comes to orthodontic treatments. For some states, full coverage can be given to young patients for their braces treatment. To be sure, check your insurance provider for more information.

You can also combine your FSA account and HSA account to your insurance coverage to help lower the amount that you have to spend out of your own pocket.

The orthodontist you are working with may also have their own payment plans, seasonal promotions, and discount packages that can help lower the cost of straightening your teeth.

Braces vs Invisalign: Pros and Cons

Invisalign

Pros

  • Discreet and nearly invisible look
  • Aligners are removable
  • Comfortable and easy to wear
  • No food restrictions
  • With free teeth whitening during treatment

Cons

  • Invisalign is more expensive than traditional braces
  • You have to deal with removing it before you eat or drink anything except for water.
  • Since it is removable, it can also get damaged, broken, or lost. You need to be disciplined and responsible.
  • If not maintained properly, the aligners can be discolored or stained

Braces

Pros

  • Best for severe and complex cases
  • More affordable compared to Invisalign
  • Bonding is permanent so the progress is consistent
  • Braces are visible but there are multiple braces type and the rubber bands come in different colors
  • Proven and tested method for teeth straightening

Cons

  • Metal appliance are noticeable and can make you feel self-conscious
  • You have to deal with food restrictions
  • Can be uncomfortable and may cause sensitivity and irritation in the mouth
  • Difficult to clean
  • Requires more follow up visits compared to Invisalign

Conclusion

Braces and Invisalign are good treatment choices when it comes to achieving that perfect and straight smile through applied pressure. To straighten teeth, you can never go wrong with both options.

As you can see, braces and Invisalign have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. You just have to see which one you prefer the most – however, you also have to understand that your dental case will have a huge impact on the decision that you have to make.

But when it comes to braces vs. Invisalign effectiveness, braces does a better job and can handle more severe dental cases compared to Invisalign. When it comes to braces vs. Invisalign, metal braces are more affordable. Invisalign’s clear look and the technology it uses contributes to its higher cost.

At the end of the day, it will all depend on the assessment of your orthodontist on which treatment is best for you. If you have an extremely severe case, chances are you will be told that braces will work best for your case. Invisalign can handle severe cases but they are very limited. So if your teeth are in better condition, Invisalign can be an option for you.

If you are eligible for both braces and Invisalign, it is a matter of your preference when it comes to deciding between braces vs. Invisalign. Generally, Invisalign will look better compared to braces so you will probably feel more confident with them.

Remember, no matter what treatment you choose, your orthodontist will still play an important part in your smile! Do not forget to consult your orthodontist first to get a clear idea of which treatment would work best for your teeth. Always go to your scheduled follow up visits to ensure that your treatment plan is on track. In the end, you will end up with a better and straighter smile.

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.

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