Straight, white teeth tend to represent a perfect smile, especially here in the U.S. And many people seek this look for cosmetic reasons. Yet orthodontic treatments aren’t just for looks. They can help correct your bite by realigning teeth. Two popular options to correct misaligned teeth include Invisalign vs. braces. Which one is right for you?
Why Use Braces or Invisalign?
Braces or clear aligners, such as Invisalign, are used for more than just correcting a crooked smile. Misaligned teeth can lead to:
- Speech impediments
- Jaw pain
- Chewing difficulties
- Sleep apnea due to mouth breathing
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
So, choosing to correct your bite or realign your teeth isn’t just cosmetic.
Invisalign vs. Braces: How to Choose
There are pros and cons to the use of both Invisalign (or other clear aligners) and traditional braces. While it can help to do your own research to understand the available options, working with your own trusted orthodontist can help you make the most informed decision. For instance, they can help you understand which method may be best for the corrections your mouth needs. One option may be more suitable for your needs. Or, one may not be suitable at all.
What Are Invisalign vs. Braces?
Both clear aligners like Invisalign and braces are used to realign teeth and help correct bite issues. They just work differently.
Traditionally, braces are made of metal brackets. Brackets are attached on the outside of the teeth with a bonding agent and connected via wires and rubber bands to shift the mouth and teeth to correct a wide variety of issues. There are newer types of braces available that are made with other materials, such as ceramic. And some braces are placed behind the teeth (lingual). Whichever materials are used, the goal is to gradually move the teeth until they’re properly aligned.
Treatment typically takes 18 to 24 months, with visits to the orthodontist every 4 to 6 weeks to make adjustments and ensure the teeth are moving in the right direction.
You are unable to make adjustments yourself but will need to be careful with your braces to prevent brackets or wires from breaking, so you will need to avoid hard and sticky foods. You will also need to change how you brush and floss to ensure you prevent staining and tooth decay.
Braces can be difficult to get used to as the metal or other materials rub against your cheeks and lips. And it can be uncomfortable after adjustments as the teeth move to their new positions.
Invisalign is a specific brand of clear plastic aligners that are custom-made for each individual. The process begins with a 3D scan of the mouth to create a plastic tray that fits over the teeth.
These clear trays apply pressure to gradually move the teeth toward the desired position. Several sets of aligners are customized to gradually move the teeth until the correct alignment is achieved.
To effectively move the teeth, each removable aligner needs to be worn for at least 22 hours per day. And trays are replaced every two weeks as the teeth realign. Treatments can last anywhere from 2 to 18 months.
Pros and Cons of Invisalign
|Difficult to detect (virtually invisible)
|May interfere with speech
|Often more affordable than traditional braces (though not always)
|May not be effective for complex corrections (such as a severe overbite, rotated teeth, or large gaps between teeth)
|No need to change your oral hygiene routine—simply take out the tray when cleaning teeth as usual
|Requires self-discipline to wear consistently for 20 to 22 hours every day
|No need to change your diet
|Have to clean your teeth immediately after eating and replacing the tray to prevent cavities and bad breath
|Fewer appointments needed with your orthodontist
|Mild to moderate corrections can take longer than needed for traditional braces
|May cause some irritation as you get used to a new tray, but there are typically fewer complaints of mouth or gum issues with Invisalign
|Can take the aligners out of your mouth as needed to eat or clean your teeth
|The aligners need to be removed if you’re eating or drinking anything other than water, which can be inconvenient to discreetly remove and store if eating out. You also need to clean the aligners and your teeth before putting them back into your mouth
Pros and Cons of Braces
|Can correct all issues, including more complex issues, such as a large overbite, rotated teeth, and large gaps
|Can be more expensive than clear aligners
|Few if any changes to speech
|Visible, which may cause some people to feel self-conscious
|Shorter time needed to fix minor or moderate issues
|More frequent appointments needed for adjustments
|Braces tend to lead to a better end result with a fantastic smile
|Requires extra oral hygiene care to properly clean the teeth and prevent decay or staining
|Various types of solutions to choose from, including less noticeable options like lingual or ceramic braces
|Other choices can be more costly than traditional metal and bracket braces
Invisalign vs. Braces: Costs
Ensuring your teeth are straight and your bite is aligned in general can come with big costs, especially for those without dental insurance. On average, the cost of Invisalign is less than the cost of traditional braces. However, this isn’t always the case, so do consult your orthodontist and dentist to see the costs for your adjustments.
Invisalign can cost in the range of $1,800 to $9,500 compared to traditional braces, which can cost from $3,000 to $12,000 (as of the time of writing). Costs for both treatments differ depending on:
- The length of time needed to complete the treatment—the longer the treatment or more difficult the correction, the higher the costs.
- The location of the orthodontist—some areas have higher costs of living than other areas, and those areas also have higher prices.
- Access to dental insurance—different insurers offer different plans that cover more or less of the cost of orthodontic treatment. Others only cover practitioners within a small network. Reach out to your insurance provider to ensure you are covered before making an appointment for your first visit.
There are some conditions that can be only partially addressed by aligners. So you may need to have braces to finalize treatment, which can increase the cost of the overall treatment.
Invisalign vs. Braces Takeaway
There are several considerations when determining which is treatment type and plan is right for your mouth. If you are considering Invisalign vs. Braces, contact our High Point Cosmetic Dentistry Practice at (366) 841-0000 to make an appointment today to improve the health and appearance of your smile and discuss which type of dental treatment may be most effective for you and your teeth.