Invisalign vs. Braces: Weighing the Pros and Cons

When perfecting your smile, we don’t know any patients who aren’t looking for a one-shot deal. But, weighing effectiveness and affordability is an important part of deciding between Invisalign and braces. While both were designed to straighten teeth, improve one’s smile, and add a positive effect to your oral health, there are noticeable differences in cost and treatment when weighing your options. While braces have been developed and improved for many centuries, Invisalign only hit the market in 2000. Despite the lack of long term date for Invisalign, orthodontists have gained enough knowledge to offer a comparison between the two treatment options.

Facts About Braces

While braces have been plagued with the stigma of metal mouth for centuries, improvements over the years have led to brackets that can match tooth color, making them less noticeable for self-conscious patients.  The cost of braces can range anywhere from eighteen hundred to fifty-five hundred dollars. Braces are worn twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for an average of two years. Length of treatment depends on severity of dental deformities. Because of their permanent placement, braces require extra time to carefully brush and floss away plaque and buildup. Orthodontist visits are required once a month for patients wearing braces and generally the use of a retainer long term, often at night, is required. So, what are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Braces can be used to treat complex issues that Invisalign may not be able to treat.
  • For those who lack self-discipline, braces are a great option to avoid the temptation of removing them without putting them back on.
  • Besides having patience during your oral hygiene routine, paying close attention to food debris build up, braces require no extra cleaning.

Cons

  • Braces can lead to pain, sores, and discomfort in your mouth, cheeks, and gums.
  • Tooth discoloration can occur if you are not properly brushing and flossing your teeth.
  • Tooth breakage is also common if teeth are weakened by tooth decay from lack of proper hygiene.
  • Certain foods can be difficult to eat, especially when your braces are first adjusted.

Facts About Invisalign

Invisalign treatment involves the use of clear plastic aligners trays that subtly and gently move teeth into the desired placement. X-rays, pictures, and impressions are made to form a precise 3D image of your teeth. Invisalign aligners should be worn for 22-24 hours a day. Treatment time varies from six to eighteen months. The average cost of Invisalign treatment is around five thousand dollars. Because they are removable, Invisalign aligner trays require special cleaning procedures. Using a cleaning system or brushing and rinsing in luke-warm water are the two options available for cleaning aligners. Aligners are changed every two weeks, but visits to the orthodontist can vary from every four weeks to ever six weeks. Like braces, retainers are required after treatment is finished.

Pros

  • Invisible
  • Removable
  • Eat and drink what you want without worrying about discomfort, food getting caught, or food breaking brackets, and without the discomfort of wires.

Cons

  • Discomfort can occur as teeth move.
  • Aligner trays need to be removed before eating or drinking anything but water. Because of this, self-discipline is required to replace and remember trays.
  • Because trays are replaced after eating, patients should brush their teeth every time they eat.

While both braces and Invisalign work towards the same goal, there are limitations to both. Invisalign is limited in the fact that it can’t address issues with back teeth, teeth that need rotation, and teeth requiring vertical movement. Additionally, Invisalign is currently only available for teens and adults. If an orthodontist determines that Invisalign is right for you, the most positive effect they have on patients is the ability to eliminate the issues related to self-consciousness. If you are still unsure which option is right for you, consult with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Maria Karayiannis.