Smiling girl compares invisalign vs braces

Invisalign vs Braces: The Pros and Cons

Straightening out your teeth is something a big portion of the population has to endure. More than 4 million people in the U.S. wear braces, and a quarter of those people are adults. 

Whether you’ve been told by a dentist that you need braces or you have just decided you’d like a smile that’s a little bit straighter, your research will likely focus on Invisalign vs braces.

The traditional braces have been around for a very long time, while those invisible tray aligners are relatively new to the game. Still, both have proven to be effective, so how do you know which is right for you? Let the debate begin.

Braces Invisalign
Pros Cons Pros Cons
Can handle minor or severe cases Can’t be removed daily Can be removed at any time Can’t treat more severe cases
Less Expensive More noticeable than Invisalign due to being metal/bulkier Clear, can’t be seen while you’re wearing them More Expensive
Don’t have to remember to put them back in after eating/drinking Brushing around brackets/wires makes tooth maintenance more difficult Easier to clean and maintain Have to remember to keep them in for at least 20-22 hours every day
Works well for straightening back teeth Bulkier, can cause discomfort Thinner and less noticeable to the wearer May not work on back teeth

How Braces Work

Traditional braces are made up of metal or ceramic, some wire, and a type of glue to make them stick to your teeth. 

Once you have a referral from your dentist, you’ll set up a consultation with an orthodontist. The orthodontist will examine your mouth and maybe take some x-rays to design the best treatment plan for your individual needs. 

When you get the braces put on, your teeth will be cleaned and conditioned, then the orthodontist will affix all of the brackets to your teeth using the placements determined in your treatment plan. Wires will then be cut and placed between the brackets. Over a period of time, those wires will pull your teeth into the correct position. You visit the orthodontist every 4 – 8 weeks so the wires can be adjusted as your teeth move.

How long you’ll have to wear braces will depend on several factors. The severity of your misalignment or any jaw problems will lead to a longer time wearing them. Generally speaking, most people end up with a treatment period of about 1 – 3 years. Making sure you stick to all the instructions from your orthodontist can shorten your time a little bit.

How Invisalign Works

While Invisalign uses the same principle as braces to straighten your smile (applying directional force to your teeth to move them in small increments until they’re in the desired position), this method doesn’t use any ceramic or wire. It uses clear trays that fully cover the teeth.

Just like with braces, an orthodontist will examine your mouth and then use x-rays and/or other digital imaging techniques to make a mold of your teeth. They will use that mold to design the best plan to get your teeth positioned correctly. 
From that plan, they will be able to make a series of those clear trays. Each one of those trays will move your teeth a little closer to the end goal. According to Invisalign, the average treatment takes 12 – 18 months, and you’ll change your trays every week or two. This method puts a little more of the onus on the patient because the trays can be taken out at any time. You have to make sure you’re wearing the trays at least 20 – 22 hours a day for them to work as they’re intended.

Woman gets braces checkup

Which One Will Work Best for You?

Unless you have one of those cases that just won’t work with Invisalign, the choice you make will come down to which one of these options fits your situation the best.

One of the first questions you might be asking is, “how much is this going to cost me?

On average, Invisalign will run you about $3,000 – $7,000 while traditional braces will be more like $2,000 – $6,000 (these prices don’t take insurance into account). The price will depend on how severe your case is.

You also need to ask how responsible the patient is. If you’re an adult that’s considering this, you might be responsible enough to take them out every time you eat and put them right back in when you’re done (after brushing your teeth, of course. You have to brush every time before you put your Invisalign in). On the other hand, if you’re looking for your child you might not have as much confidence that they’ll actually wear the trays like they’re supposed to. Not having to remember to take them out and put them in is a bonus in this department.

If you don’t want people to know you’re wearing them, Invisalign trays are the only way to go. They’re clear, so nobody will be able to tell you’re wearing them. Braces, while they have come a long way, are going to be much more noticeable. That might not be a terrible thing to some people, though. Many choose to turn their braces into an accessory by varying the color of bands or brackets they use.

Your lifestyle will also be a big deciding factor. People who play contact sports on the regular might be better off opting for Invisalign. Anyone who has worn braces before and been hit in the mouth will tell you it’s not fun having your braces cut your lip (as if it wasn’t already bad enough that you got hit in the mouth).

All Straightened Out

When it comes down to it, you can’t really make the wrong choice. Both methods are going to have the same result: that smile will get straightened out just like you want it. It’s likely to help you improve your overall oral health, too, since you’ll be paying closer attention to cleaning your teeth and gums

If you can’t decide for yourself or are worried you might have a case that is too severe for Invisalign or other clear trays out there, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your dentist. And once you get started stick to your treatment plan. After all, you’ll just end up wearing your braces or trays longer.