Very few people are blessed with perfectly straight adult teeth, which is why orthodontics is such a popular branch of dentistry. Invisalign and braces are effective in shifting teeth into their proper position over time, but the treatments have many differences. If you’re looking to improve your smile but you’re not sure which orthodontic treatment is right for you, here are the main differences between Invisalign and traditional braces.
Removable vs. stationary
Invisalign involves transparent aligner trays made of BPA-free plastic that are worn over your teeth to gently move them into a straighter alignment. Orthodontic specialists use X-rays, photos, and impressions to create a precise 3D image of your teeth to configure the aligner trays accordingly. Patients must wear the trays for a minimum of 22 hours per day, only removing them to eat, drink beverages other than water, and brush and floss, so discipline is extremely important.
Braces, on the other hand, do not require as much discipline because they are not removable. Brackets made of metal or ceramic are glued to your teeth and connected with wires and tiny rubber bands, which slowly move your teeth into position. The rubber bands are changed out during appointments, but the brackets are stationary for the duration of your treatment.
Invisible vs. noticeable
Invisalign trays are virtually invisible to observers, making them ideal for adults who wish to avoid a “back to high school” look. There might be an adjustment period for the patient to get used to talking with the trays inserted, but after that it’s easy to forget they’re in place.
Metal braces are indeed noticeable, but ceramic brackets are less so, and they’re available in either clear coloring or off-white to match your teeth. The metal wires are still visible, however, which might not be as important to teenage patients versus adult patients.
Invisalign trays must be replaced every two weeks to continue to the realignment process. Follow-up visits are required every four to six weeks to ensure the treatment is going as planned. Overall treatment takes about six to 18 months, depending on the patient’s needs.
Braces require more visits to the orthodontist, who will tighten the wires and replace the rubber bands at every visit. Overall treatment takes an average of two years, depending on the severity of the patient’s alignment issues.
Invisalign patients can brush and floss as before, removing the alignment trays as needed, although it’s important to brush after every meal before replacing the trays to avoid staining the teeth. The trays themselves also require daily cleaning and brushing with lukewarm water.
Patients with braces might find brushing and flossing teeth more challenging, but using a water pick can be extremely helpful. The brackets should also be brushed daily, as food particles left behind can lead to tooth decay.
Other pros and cons
Other benefits of Invisalign include less discomfort and more freedom for patients to eat whatever they want. But as mentioned previously, Invisalign requires a high level of discipline, which is why it’s more often recommended for adults rather than children or younger teens. Invisalign is also ideal for patients with minimal to moderate alignment issues, but not so ideal for substantially crooked teeth.
Braces, on the other hand, are ideal for complex alignment issues, including severe underbites, overbites, and crossbites, along with malocclusions and other major flaws in the teeth and jaw. Plus, the overall cost for braces is lower than Invisalign prices. However, patients will be limited in the types of food they eat for the duration, and there is usually some discomfort involved during adjustment appointments.
Improve your smile, improve your life
Whether you choose Invisalign or braces to straighten your teeth, a brand-new smile brings new confidence and an improved outlook on life. At Sedation and Implant Dentistry Irvine, we offer the latest in braces and Invisalign in Orange County, and Board Certified Orthodontist Gary Sanner, D.D.S. and Invisalign Certified dentist Shellaine Del Campo D.D.S. can help you determine which option is right for you. Call us today at (949) 424-5137 to schedule a consultation.