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What Is Invisalign?

Invisalign transforms smiles discreetly and comfortably. The treatment uses removable aligners that are virtually invisible to straighten the teeth into a beautiful smile without using any visible metal brackets or wires.

The aligners are completely transparent and custom-made.

invisalign aligners

The clear aligners can discreetly correct various orthodontic issues. The treatment results in a well-balanced, even smile in as little as twelve months. Invisalign aligners look like clear, flexible retainers and are removable so they can be taken out before eating or brushing.

In most cases, Invisalign can also correct a wide range of teeth misalignments. However, your dentist or orthodontist may suggest braces for specific rare midline cases.

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Pros and Cons of Invisalign

There are both pros and cons of Invisalign treatment:

Pros

  • Appearance — the main benefit of Invisalign is that the retainers are discreet and virtually invisible. This makes them attractive for adults and teenagers who would otherwise feel self-conscious wearing metal brackets.
  • Removable — for optimal results, patients must wear Invisalign for 22 hours a day. This means that the aligners can be removed during eating and drinking. Patients do not have to change what they eat or how they eat it.
  • Easy to practice good oral health — patients can also remove Invisalign aligners to brush their teeth. With nothing fixed to the teeth to worry about, it is easy to continue brushing and flossing your teeth as usual.
  • Fewer consultations — most of the orthodontic treatment occurs before you wear your aligners. A 3D scan of the teeth helps to produce all the customized retainers in a laboratory. Most dentists and orthodontists require Invisalign evaluation visits every 6 weeks to monitor progress and intercept problems in tooth movement.
  • Comfortable — Invisalign retainers are produced from special plastic and are custom-fitted to each patient’s mouth. This makes the retainers more comfortable than braces.

Cons

  • Patients must be disciplined — the chance to remove your aligners is both a benefit and a disadvantage. Patients must be disciplined in putting their aligners back into their mouth after eating or drinking. Otherwise, the treatment will not provide the most effective results.
  • Inconvenient — removing and placing your aligners back into your mouth before eating or drinking anything except water can be frustrating. 
  • Cost — the cost of Invisalign is similar to braces. Depending on your dental issues, some treatments are impossible with Invisalign alone. Your orthodontist may suggest the use of braces too. This can lead to a more expensive treatment cost.

What Are Traditional Braces?

Traditional braces consist of small brackets fixed to your teeth, linked by a wire, and held to the brackets by rubber bands. These braces move the teeth into the correct position by applying pressure.

metal braces on teeth

The braces' wire is regularly tightened by an orthodontist or dentist to shift your teeth into place slowly. Sometimes, the brackets are colorful.

Pros and Cons of Braces

There are also pros and cons to braces:

Pros

  • Versatile — with braces, it often does not matter how challenging your case is. Braces can fix multiple dental and facial problems that need correcting. They are the most effective treatment method in shifting teeth into the correct position.
  • Perfect results — traditional braces can often achieve a better result than Invisalign. 
  • Choice — there are various types of braces to choose from. Patients can now choose lingual or ceramic braces that are more discreet than metal options.
  • Treatment time — when closing gaps and aligning the teeth, the braces treatment time can be quicker than Invisalign. 

Cons

  • Aesthetics — many people dislike the look of traditional braces. They can make some people feel more conscious of their appearance, especially in social settings.
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene — brushing and flossing your teeth is more challenging with braces. If you do not clean your teeth effectively, you risk plaque build up around the braces. This can lead to staining and tooth decay. Patients must always follow their orthodontist's guidance on how to brush and floss while wearing braces correctly.
  • Diet and food preparation — patients must be careful when it comes to eating certain foods and drinks. Hard and sticky dishes can lead the archwire or a bracket to break or dislodge from a tooth. If this occurs, the braces will not work until the breakage is fixed.
  • Regular consultations — braces require more frequent visits to the orthodontist to check on progress. Patients must visit their orthodontists around once per month to have their teeth checked.

Is Invisalign Faster Than Braces?

Invisalign treatment time typically takes anywhere between 12 to 18 months. While the precise amount of time depends on each patient’s requirements, Invisalign usually works faster in straightening teeth than traditional braces.

Generally, Invisalign takes less time than traditional braces to shift teeth into the correct position. This is because of the type of force the process uses to move teeth.

Invisalign clear aligners add force to the teeth altogether while braces move each tooth individually.

For optimal and quick results, it is essential to follow the instructions for wearing Invisalign clear aligners. 

Which Will Work Best For You – Braces vs Invisalign?

Both traditional braces and Invisalign have their pros and cons. If you are an adult or have a teenager who tends to be self-conscious, Invisalign may be more appealing than braces.

As Invisalign aligners are removable so you can eat, drink, brush, and floss more naturally, this may also sound more desirable. But if having to remove the aligner trays for eating or drinking anything apart from water seems inconvenient, Invisalign treatment may not be for you. Plus, patients must brush their teeth after each meal before placing their trays back into their mouth to avoid staining.

It is also essential to understand that Invisalign’s success depends almost entirely on the wearer. If you do not wear your Invisalign aligners, they will not work. But when wearing metal braces, you do not have any choice in the matter.

If you need to treat your back teeth or need to rotate or shift teeth vertically, Invisalign may not be an option. It is a good idea to visit an orthodontist experienced with both traditional metal braces and Invisalign. That way, they can recommend the most effective treatment to suit your needs.

Cost of Invisalign vs. Braces

The cost of Invisalign is comparable to braces. Metal braces are typically priced from $1,800 to $5,500. Invisalign varies from between $3,000 to $5,000.

Only your orthodontist will know how much your dental treatment will be. It is essential to know that other factors also affect the price. If your teeth require more attention and work, this will heighten the price.

If you have an overbite, this means it will take longer to shift your teeth into the desired position. The average dental prices in your city and how much your dental insurance plan will cover also affects the price.

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Resources

Azaripour, A et al., Braces versus Invisalign®: gingival parameters and patients' satisfaction during treatment: a cross-sectional study., BMC oral health vol. 15 69. 24 Jun. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4478712/ 

How much does Invisalign Treatment cost?, Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.co.uk/invisalign-cost 

Braces Have Changed, From Metal to Tooth-Colored to Clear, United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), June 2017, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/braces-have-changed-metal-tooth-colored-clear 

Ke, Yunyan et al., A comparison of treatment effectiveness between clear aligner and fixed appliance therapies., BMC oral health vol. 19,1 24. 23 Jan. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6343314/ 

Treatable cases, Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.com/treatable-cases 

Frequently asked questions, Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.com/frequently-asked-questions 

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Updated on: November 18, 2020
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Ellie Swain
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Lara Coseo
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