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Invisalign vs Braces: Which is Better?

Orthodontists have used braces for many years to correct teeth alignment problems. More recent technology has created an alternative to braces for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment in the form of clear plastic aligners. One of the most popular brands of aligners is Invisalign.

At Ironwood Pediatric Dentistry, we offer our patients the option of braces treatment or Invisalign aligners. Here we will cover the advantages and disadvantages of braces and Invisalign and compare them to each other. To learn more about your Invisalign vs braces options, call us at (480) 422-4544, or contact us online.

braces versus invisalign

What is the Difference Between Braces and Invisalign Aligners?

Before we go over their relative advantages and disadvantages, here are the basics of braces and Invisalign clear aligners.

Braces consist of metal or ceramic brackets that attach to the teeth. Wires thread through slots in the brackets, which are also connected by rubber bands.

Invisalign aligners are custom-made plastic aligner trays made to fit your teeth. Unlike braces, the patient can remove Invisalign aligners. Treatment consists of going through sets of aligners, each designed to gradually move teeth based on results achieved by the previous aligner set.

Braces as an Orthodontic Treatment

Braces are a mainstay of orthodontic treatment for good reasons. Even though compared to Invisalign aligners they are an older technology, traditional braces still retain some advantages and for some treatment needs they remain the only practical option.

braces as an orthodontic treatment

Advantages of Braces

Given the advantages of Invisalign aligners, which we will see below, you might wonder why old-style braces are still in use. And as we will see now, braces are still a solid choice for many parents and their children.

Braces Work for All Alignment Corrections

One of the main advantages of braces is that they are suitable for all orthodontic treatment situations, not just straightening teeth. Invisalign aligners are not always a good choice for complex cases.

Braces Do Not Require Discipline to Wear

One of the advantages of Invisalign aligners is that they are easily removable and replaceable by hand with no tools needed. But this advantage can be degraded if the aligners are left out for too long because of forgetfulness, procrastination, or any other reason.

All orthodontic treatment options rely on gradual, steady application of force to realign and reposition teeth. When this pressure is released, a natural tendency is for the teeth to lose progress in this process.

Invisalign aligners must be worn for the vast majority of every day, preferably about 22 hours. Every time Invisalign aligners are left out for longer than is necessary to eat or brush teeth, it adds a little more time to the duration of the treatment.

Braces, on the other hand, require no self-discipline to wear. Furthermore, metal braces are not susceptible to staining like clear aligners can be if they are not removed before drinking or eating beverages and foods that can cause stains.

Braces Have Low Visibility Options

Traditional metal braces are the most cost-effective option in many cases. But if minimizing the visibility of orthodontic devices is an important consideration, alternative forms of braces exist including ceramic braces that use a tooth-colored resin to make them hard to detect.

Disadvantages of Braces

No orthodontic therapy solution is perfect. Here are some of the aspects of wearing braces that our child patients report experiencing the most.

Metal Braces Are Visible

Short of never smiling, metal braces are impossible to conceal. Many children find wearing metal braces to be an awkward and self-conscious experience that can affect their interactions with their peers.

Braces Can Be Uncomfortable to Wear

Braces put the most effective, steady pressure on teeth. This can sometimes lead to mouth discomfort, especially after braces adjustments. Poking wires or broken brackets may also cause discomfort. 

Braces Can Preclude Eating Certain Foods

Although the brackets, wires, and bands of braces are designed to be sturdy, and the dental adhesive we use to attach them to teeth is strong, they are not indestructible. 

Some foods, like popcorn, hard candies, and sticky foods, can be punishing on braces hardware. They can lead to broken or detached brackets and broken wires. When this happens, it is necessary to make an orthodontist appointment to make repairs. Excessive wear and tear on the braces can lead to longer treatment times.

Braces Require More Orthodontist Visits

Because you wear them for a year or more, often for two or three years, conventional braces must be regularly adjusted as the realignment journey of your teeth continues. You cannot do this at home. You must come to the orthodontist’s office.

Braces Can be Hard to Keep Clean

The hardware of braces makes it easy for food particles to become trapped among all those metal brackets, wires, and bands. This makes proper brushing and flossing techniques important when wearing braces.

Maintaining good oral hygiene while wearing braces is equally challenging and important. Not keeping them clean of food debris can lead to tooth staining, bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Invisalign as an Orthodontic Treatment

Invisalign orthodontic care consists of a treatment plan that takes you through custom-made sets of aligners. You will use multiple Invisalign aligners during this journey, each for a few weeks as misaligned teeth gradually shift to their new positions. Each aligner you wear for about 20 to 22 hours a day, removing them when you eat, brush, floss, and to clean them.

During your course of Invisalign treatment, we will have you come back to our offices to check on your progress, give you your next set of trays, make sure that your aligners fit perfectly, and answer any questions you may have.

Advantages of Invisalign

As long as they are appropriate for your orthodontic treatment needs, Invisalign aligners provide several advantages over using braces.

Invisalign Clear Aligners are Practically Invisible When Worn

Although ceramic braces are less visible than stainless steel ones, they are still hard to hide when you are smiling. Invisalign aligner SmartTrack plastic, on the other hand, is nearly transparent. And if you need to use Invisalign attachments underneath your aligner, those attachments are virtually invisible, too.

Invisalign Clear Aligners are Effective in Many Cases

Invisalign aligners work in correcting many kinds of orthodontic problems, including but not limited to overbite, underbite, crossbite, open bite, crowded teeth, gapped teeth, and jaw alignment.

Invisalign Clear Aligners Are Safe to Use

Because they do not rely on wires like metal braces and are not brittle like ceramic braces can be, Invisalign aligners avoid the possible problems that can happen when wires or ceramic brackets break.

Invisalign Clear Aligners Are Convenient and Easy to Use

Aside from their near invisibility when worn, for many of our patients, another compelling advantage of Invisalign aligners is that, unlike braces, you can remove Invisalign aligners when you need to.

This eliminates one of the most common drawbacks of braces, food particles getting stuck in among the brackets, wires, and elastic bands. It also makes brushing your teeth easier and improves the results you get from brushing.

Another convenience of using Invisalign is that doing so requires fewer office visits.

You Have No Food Restrictions with Invisalign Clear Aligners

Because you can (and should) remove Invisalign aligners when you eat, you have no braces hardware to worry about when eating foods like corn on the cob, or foods that are hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky.

Finally, cleaning your Invisalign aligner is easy to do when it is removed; something you cannot do with braces.

Invisalign Clear Aligners Are Affordable

You can pay for Invisalign aligners in whole or in part through many dental insurance plans, like through your health or dental insurance, through Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings Accounts, or out of pocket through monthly payment plans.

We can also help you arrange a monthly payment plan if you do not have insurance or it will not pay the whole cost of Invisalign smile treatment.

Disadvantages of Invisalign

Just like braces are not perfect, Invisalign clear aligners have certain real and potential drawbacks.

Not Suitable for Complex Corrections

Transparent aligners do not work for every situation and are typically best for people who need only minor straightening of crooked teeth.

Must Be Removed When Eating

You can drink water when wearing Invisalign trays, but should remove them whenever eating or drinking anything other than water. The plastic is soft and easily damaged by food. 

Additionally, the clear plastic stains easily and warps with heat, so you need to remove the aligners when drinking hot or colorful beverages.

Aligners Require Discipline to Use

You must keep Invisalign aligners in your mouth as much as possible, at least 22 hours daily. The more you dip below the recommended minimum hours of wear, the less effective the aligners will be. 

If sporadic use continues long enough, this can eventually lead to changes in the treatment plan and increased treatment time because each successive set of aligners is designed on the assumption that the last set was effectively worn.

Aligners Require More Tooth Brushing

Keeping your aligners clean is important not only for appearance and comfort but also for good oral hygiene. Putting your aligners back into your mouth without brushing your teeth first can lead to bad breath, staining of the aligners, and an increased risk of tooth decay.

Aligners May Require Visible Attachments

Sometimes Invisalign aligners need attachments to achieve their orthodontic treatment purpose. These attachments need to be attached by an orthodontist. They can also make the aligners a little more visible when you are wearing them.

Aligners Can Be More Expensive Than Braces

Although Invisalign is generally cost-competitive with braces, in some situations, aligners can cost more than the least expensive braces options.

Which is Better: Braces or Invisalign?

By now it should be clear that although braces are effective for all orthodontic care needs, they are not always the only choice. Depending on your unique requirements, Invisalign clear aligners can be an option to straighten teeth that many of our patients prefer. Here are three fundamental considerations when deciding which choice is the right one for you.

Do You Have Complex Orthodontic Treatment Needs?

Invisalign aligners are not suitable for complex orthodontic treatments. If this is your situation, then the choice of braces is one your treatment needs will make for you.

How Self-Disciplined Are You?

One big advantage of Invisalign aligners is that you can take them out at will and put them back in. But if you do not wear them for at least 22 hours a day, this advantage can become a disadvantage because it can reduce the effectiveness of the aligners and cause delays in your treatment. 

If consistency is a possible concern, then braces might be the better choice.

How Important is Visibility to You?

Because they are clear when worn and are removable, Invisalign aligners are the closest to being an invisible orthodontic solution you can get. If Invisalign is not an available treatment option for you, then talk with us about ceramic braces options.

Talk With an Orthodontist About Your Choice Between Invisalign vs Braces

At Ironwood Pediatric Dentistry, our orthodontists are authorized Invisalign dentists who are trained in how to use Invisalign clear aligner therapy to create a customized tooth alignment and smile recovery plan just for you. If Invisalign is suitable for your treatment, then talk to us about choosing this option.

If braces are the better choice for you, based on all the circumstances, we will advise you of this fact and help you consider ceramic braces options.

Your first consultation with us is free. No risk, no obligation. There is no reason why you cannot find out how much Invisalign aligners or braces can help your child have all the health-improving and confidence-building benefits that come with straight teeth and a healthy, inviting smile.

Call us today at (480) 422-4544 or reach out to us online to set up your free initial consultation with an experienced orthodontist—or just to ask us any questions you still have about Invisalign treatments, metal braces, or clear braces.