Invisalign vs braces – What’s the difference?

If you’re thinking about straightening your teeth, you might be wondering which is the best treatment option for you: traditional braces or Invisalign.

Each one has their pros and cons, and, more often than not, it will come down to your circumstances, personal preferences, and the end result you want to achieve. A specialist orthodontist will keep you right, but if you want to do your homework, we’re here to help with an unbiased look at both treatment types.

Braces vs Invisalign: What’s the Difference?

Braces and Invisalign are similar in that they’re both designed to straighten teeth, enhance your smile, and improve your oral health. But they achieve this goal in different ways.

  • Traditional braces involve glueing metal brackets to your teeth and attaching them together with wires and rubber bands. This setup exerts pressure on your teeth and jaw, slowly but surely moving them into the desired position.
  • Invisalign, meanwhile, uses smooth plastic aligners to gently move your teeth. These are created specifically for your mouth via digital scans . They’re designed to be comfortable and discreet.

What Are The Pros & Cons of Invisalign?

The advantages of Invisalign include:

You don’t have to wear Invisalign 24/7

One of the most attractive aspects of Invisalign is the fact that you don’t have to wear your aligners all day, every day. For the best results, you should wear them 20 – 22 hours a day, which means you can take them out when eating. And this, in turn, means you don’t have to alter your diet throughout your treatment (a definite downside to traditional braces, as we’ll soon discover).

Invisalign makes brushing and flossing easier

Beyond eating and drinking, you’ll also take your aligners out to brush and floss your teeth. So there’s no need to change your oral hygiene routine — you simply brush and floss as normal.

It’s more comfortable and discreet

The most significant benefit of Invisalign is the fact that the retainers are largely invisible (especially from afar). You can still smile in photos and go about your day-to-day without feeling self-conscious about having a mouth full of metal.  

And although most orthodontic treatment comes with a degree of discomfort (we do try to keep it to a minimum!), Invisalign is often more comfortable when compared to traditional braces. Because they’re fitted to each individual’s mouth, you’ll typically experience fewer mouth or gum problems.

You require fewer consultations

When it comes to Invisalign, most of the work happens before you even wear your aligners. After the digital scans and, a 3D scan of your teeth is created to produce a custom set of retainers. As you progress through your treatment, you’ll change retainers at the direction of your orthodontist.

This means that you won’t need as many consultations over the course of the treatment. Unlike traditional braces, which require adjustments, Invisalign is much more hands-off. And with fewer consultations, it means less time off work or school.

However, there are some disadvantages of Invisalign. These include:

You need to have self-discipline

While having the ability to take your aligners out is a clear benefit, it’s also a major disadvantage if you don’t have the necessary self-discipline to put them back. For Invisalign to work, you need to wear them consistently (20-22 hours a day), and if you forget, you could slow your treatment and put your desired results at risk.

Removing them (and putting them back) can be inconvenient — especially in public

When you’re eating or drinking anything other than water, you need to take your retainers out. And when you’re finished, you need to brush your teeth to remove any food lodged in your teeth before putting them back. Failing to do so can affect movement, stain your aligners, and cause bad breath or cavities. 

And while removing your aligners to eat, brushing once you’re done, and replacing them is a relatively straightforward process at home, it can become difficult to do discreetly when eating in public.

What Are The Pros & Cons of Traditional Braces?

The advantages of traditional braces include:

Multiple types to choose from

When you think of traditional braces, your mind probably leaps to a mouth full of metal and wires. But you do have the choice of different types if you so wish. These include ceramic braces, which are a little more subtle when compared to their metal counterparts, and lingual braces, which sit behind the teeth as opposed to the front (sometimes called “invisible braces”).

Works for all treatments

Traditional braces work for any teeth-straightening situation, no matter how difficult. They are more powerful than Invisalign — using the anchors and archwire to pull your teeth into position — and can often deliver better results.  

Faster treatment times

Although every treatment is different, generally speaking, traditional braces will close gaps and align teeth faster than Invisalign. If you’re planning on improving your smile for your wedding, for example, going the traditional route could be your best bet.

The disadvantages of traditional braces include:

You require frequent consultations

Opting for traditional braces also means more regular visits to your orthodontist. To achieve the best results, your braces will need to be monitored and adjusted — often around once a month. 

Not as aesthetically pleasing

Adults and teenagers alike can feel self-conscious about wearing braces. So, even though they’re an effective option, if it will harm your confidence, it’s worth discussing alternative treatments with your orthodontist. 

Food and drink preparation is trickier

Unlike Invisalign, wearing traditional braces means changing your approach to eating and drinking. Hard or sticky foods can put you at risk of damaging the wires or bracket, which will require repairs.

Brushing and flossing can be more difficult

When you’re fitted with traditional braces, you almost have to relearn how to brush and floss your teeth properly. The braces provide an additional obstacle around which you need to clean — and this requires time and attention. Your orthodontist will instruct you on the correct technique, but if you don’t follow it consistently, you could risk plaque build-up, staining, or decay.

In Summary

When it comes to selecting the best treatment for your situation, your orthodontist will guide you. But understanding the pros and cons of each option will help you make a more informed decision.

If you’d like to learn more about how braces can help you get straighter, healthier teeth, speak with one of our specialist orthodontists. 

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